Andrew Kaufman

Speech Topics

In this keynote nationally renowned educator, author, and innovator Andrew Kaufman will inspire audiences with the story of how he unexpectedly came upon a way of using Russian literature to change the lives of incarcerated youth and university students through the unique Books Behind Bars program he created. Books Behind Bars, which is the subject of a forthcoming feature documentary, instills crucial lessons about compassion, courage, and the shared human experience, and the program illustrates how we all have the power to make a profound difference in the lives of others in this very moment, no matter what our background, interests, or profession.

In this keynote address, Dr. Andrew Kaufman shows how Tolstoy’s greatest work speaks directly to each of us in the 21st century, offering answers to our most modern of questions through the sometimes comic, sometimes tragic, and always inspiring examples of the novel’s beloved characters. Touching on a broad range of topics from courage to romance, parenting to death, or success to happiness, Kaufman inspires audiences to appreciate how Tolstoy’s wisdom can help us live fuller, richer, more meaningful lives.


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Andrew D. Kaufman is an author, educator, speaker, and innovator. He is an internationally recognized Russian literature scholar and featured Tolstoy expert who is bringing classic literature to millions.

Dr. Kaufman has spent the last twenty five years bringing the Russian classics to life for Americans young and old. An innovative, award-winning teacher of Russian language, literature and culture, Kaufman holds a Ph.D. in Slavic Languages and Literatures from Stanford University and currently lectures at the University of Virginia. He’s the author of Give War and Peace a Chance: Tolstoyan Wisdom for Troubled Times and Understanding Tolstoy as well as co-author of Russian for Dummies. He is a featured Tolstoy expert for and has appeared on various national and international TV and radio shows.

In addition to his Russian expertise, Kaufman created and teaches a renowned community-based literature course, “Books Behind Bars: Life, Literature and Leadership,” in which university students have life-changing discussions about Russian literature with incarcerated youth at a juvenile correctional center in Virginia. The course has been featured in the Washington Post, on Katie Couric, and on Russian national television, and it will be the subject of a documentary film forthcoming in 2016.

Dr. Kaufman is a sought-after keynote speaker who has spoken at TEDx, the Aspen Institute, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies, the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Leo Tolstoy Museum and Estate at Yasnaya Polyana, and at book clubs and libraries, corporations, prisons, and colleges and universities across the United States. A professionally-trained actor and long-time college instructor, he is an entertaining and inspirational speaker who draws on the wisdom of great Russian books, as well as his own lifelong journey with them, to offer audiences nourishment for the mind and soul, while also providing them with practical insights that are immediately applicable to their own lives.

To learn more about Dr. Kaufman, please visit his website at


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