Liza Knapp has taught at the University of California at Berkeley for the past ten years. The courses she always enjoys the most are "Dostoevsky, Tolstoy and the English Novel" and "Russian, French and American Novels of Adultery," both of which showcase Anna Karenina. She has taught this novel to hundreds of students and finds something new in it every time.
Together with Amy Mandelker, Liza Knapp co-edited the Modern Language Association's Approaches to Teaching Anna Karenina. She has written a book on Dostoevsky and edited a critical companion to Dostoevsky's The Idiot. She is currently at work on two books, Tolstoy's Quest for Meaning in Anna Karenina and Dostoevsky and the Novel of the Accidental Family.
Liza started learning Russian as teenager, after she fell in love with the Russian literature that she read in translation. Early in her studies of Russian, Liza had the privilege of meeting Tolstoy's youngest daughter, Alexandra, who was then approaching ninety. Liza was studying Russian in a program that was held on the Tolstoy Foundation's farm in Valley Cottage, New York. The encounter was on a path outside the barn, where Alexandra Tolstoy had been talking to one of the farm workers, a refugee aided by her foundation. This encounter gave Liza first-hand evidence that Alexandra Tolstoy was very much her father's daughter. Liza's later visit to Tolstoy's Iasnaia Poliana in Russia made the world of Anna Karenina and of Leo Tolstoy really come alive for her.
This summer, Liza, her husband and their sons will move to New York City. Liza will begin teaching at Columbia University in September.