USM Professor Gives Crime and Punishment Presentation to AP Literature Students

On Wednesday, Mrs. Sutherlin’s AP Literature students viewed a presentation from Mr. Edward McCormack, Associate Dean for Gulf Coast Libraries, on Crime and Punishment author Fyodor Dostoevsky.

“Crime and Punishment is a classic novel,” said Sutherlin. “It is one of the first psychological dramas and allows a reader to enter the mind of a murderer and a prostitute vicariously.” Published in 1866, the novel is considered the first great novel of Dostoevsky’s “mature” period of writing. His goal with the book was to argue against westernizing ideas in general. He strongly opposed the doctrines of Russian nihilism, the rejection of all authority.

McCormack discussed the life of Fyodor Dostoevsky. He began with a general introduction about Dostoevsky and then played a video about the author’s life. He then gave each student a handout about the author and how he wrote Crime and Punishment. He gave the students the opportunity to ask questions at the end.

Mr. McCormack has visited St. Patrick for several years to discuss the topic of Fyodor Dostoevsky with AP Literature students right before they begin reading his most famous work. “I ask Mr. McCormack, an Associate Dean at USM, to speak on Dostoevsky and Russian history every year because of his vast knowledge and research on Russia,” said Sutherlin.

Although the language of Dostoevsky’s time differs from that of today, and the book has been translated many different ways, Mrs. Sutherlin hopes that Mr. McCormack’s presentation helps the students understand the circumstances in which the novel was written and the environment of Russia during that time. “The reader must consider how the author’s background shapes his characters and their actions, in order to understand the novel,” she said. “I hope that students are encouraged to read a bit deeper after hearing Mr. McCormack’s lecture. My desire is that the novel helps students consider the motives of a character from a different perspective and to bring that knowledge to other works that we cover.”

The students in Mrs. Sutherlin’s AP Literature class learned a great deal from Mr. McCormack’s discussion on Wednesday. Matthew Bisner, an AP Literature student, said that McCormack’s presentation was, “not only thorough and insightful, but he also made sure to make the information accessible and understandable to us students.” The students would like to thank Mr. McCormack for visiting and hope that he returns next year.

Story by Richard Springer