Courses and Seminars

For several years, Natalya Sukhonos was a Teaching Fellow in my introductory humanities course “Journeys,” and I cannot speak highly enough of her erudition, her zestful approach to teaching and learning, and her unfailing warmth, generosity, and high spirits. I wish my children had enjoyed the gift of a class with Dr. Sukhonos, and that is the highest praise I can give.

Tobias Wolff

American short story writer

A sample of recent courses

Seminars on Nikolai Gogol

March 5, 2021
The whole of Russian literature, according to the Russian critic Belinsky, emerged from Gogol’s “The Overcoat.” One of the foundational writers of the Russian 19th century, Nikolai Gogol is unabashedly romantic and darkly humorous. His Saint Petersburg tales are absurdist and satirical. They are filled with enigmas that force the reader to ponder the quagmire of bureaucracy while rooting for the forgotten everyman. At the same time, Gogol’s stories leave us with paradoxes and questions unanswered. Gogol’s roots in the Ukrainian folk oral tradition enrich his writing.

Vladimir Nabokov referred to Gogol’s “The Overcoat” as the greatest Russian short story ever written. Indeed, Gogol’s work has influenced Bulgakov, Dostoevsky, and writers beyond the Russian canon such as Jonathan Safran Foer and Isaac Bashevis Singer. Please join me for a seminar this winter, as we climb into Gogol’s “The Overcoat” and try it on for size. The reading will be provided in advance, and the format of the seminar will feature a 10-minute lecture followed by a lively and nuanced discussion. Please register by February 28, 2021, at least 5 days in advance.

April 10th, 2021 — “The Nose”
A follow-up to the previous seminar, this seminar will be an investigation of Nikolai Gogol’s “The Nose”. We will specifically look for connections to “The Overcoat”, as well as explore the notion of metafiction and the role of humor in Gogol’s work.

Ongoing Russian Poetry Seminar

I am also teaching a semi-private Russian Poetry Seminar where we explore poetic techniques in Russian literature with an eye on historical and cultural context. So far, we’ve done Alexander Pushkin’s The Bronze Horseman and will move onto Eugene Onegin.

Student Testimonials

I took Dr. Natalya Sukhonos’s class entitled “Vladimir Nabokov: His Life and Works” through the Stanford Continuing Studies program. I was always so impressed with Dr. Sukhonos’s extensive knowledge and insight into a complex work of literature. She approaches teaching by combining visual presentations, group discussions, lectures, and guest speakers and scholars. Classroom discussions were highly engaging and students shared a variety of perspectives. I came away from the class with a much deeper appreciation of Vladimir Nabokov’s life and work, and an intellectual enthusiasm to study other complex works of literature. I highly recommend Dr. Natalya Sukhonos to you.”
Edward Lester

Stanford Continuing Studies student

I’ve taken a number of classes through Stanford Continuing Studies, including the Nabokov course I took with Natalya, and she is, by far, my favorite instructor. She has deep subject matter expertise and is brilliant at facilitating robust discussion among her students, making the class a dynamic and meaningful learning experience.
Amy Harcourt

Stanford Continuing Studies student

A talented and astute literature professor, Natalya consistently offers instruction of exceedingly high caliber. She sets the learning bar quite high, with a warm, engaging, and inclusive pedagogical style. If you’re seeking depth, inspiration and new insights, look no further. I don’t think you’ll find a better teacher out there.
Howard Rappaport

Stanford Continuing Studies student

We were individuals with varied backgrounds and perspectives. Through her cogent, thought-provoking lectures and well-chosen questions, Natalya guided us to dig deep with a focus while appreciating different interpretations of literary masterpieces. Her success is not only due to her profound knowledge and excellent training, but also because of her generosity and open-mindedness. Natalya’s class on Vladimir Nabokov is one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had with Stanford Continuing Studies’ program.
Xiaoyan Zhao Drasnin, Ph.D.

Stanford Continuing Studies student

Reading a great book of literature with Natalya is like visiting an enchanted world with a brilliant tour guide and dear friend. I have taken two courses with Natalya- one on Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace, and another that was an introduction to the works of Vladimir Nabokov. Natalya is an incredible discussion facilitator- she introduces each session with thoughtful discussion questions and a brief, insightful lecture. She then invites students to share their original insights related to her compelling discussion questions. Natalya has a remarkable talent for affirming students’ ideas while tethering the discussion to established, scholarly analysis, plus her own remarkable interpretations. I can’t recommend Natalya highly enough as an instructor and reading mentor.
Jamey Burho

Stanford Continuing Studies student