Rebecca Panovka '16, a joint concentrator in Philosophy and English, is one of two Harvard University seniors to be awarded Marshall Scholarships for 2016. While at Harvard, Panovka, a native of New York City, has served as editor of the Harvard Book Review and The Harvard Advocate’s 150th Anniversary Anthology. In addition, she has held internships with The Paris Review and is currently editing a documentary filmed in South Africa in 2015.
Panovka's senior thesis, ‘The Geneva Idea: Dostoyevsky, Rousseau, and the Confessional Personality,’examines three ways in which the work and the figure of Jean-Jacques Rousseau is responded to in the literary writings of Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Dostoyevsky was deeply suspicious of the Enlightenment ideals of liberal democracy, especially as they were inherited by Russian liberals in his time, and he associated these ideas with Rousseau. Panovka shows how Dostoyevsky’s polemic against what he called ‘Geneva ideas’ is carried on in his parody of the confessional form (particularly in Notes from Underground, in the association he makes between The Social Contract and the idea of a planned society, and in the contrast between Rousseau’s story of the ‘Fall’ of ‘natural man’ to the state of civilization, and the Christian story of the Fall and Redemption.
In the first year of her Marshall Scholarship Panovka will pursue an M.Phil in political thought and intellectual history at the University of Cambridge. In her second year she plans to earn a master's degree in visual anthropology at the University of Manchester.