of History and the College
PhD 2010 University of California, Berkeley
AM 2001 University of California, Berkeley
AB 1998 University of Chicago
The University of Chicago
Department of History
1126 E. 59th Street, Mailbox 33
Chicago, IL 60637
Social Science Research Building, room 515 – Office
(773) 702-0466 – Office telephone
(773) 702-7550 – Fax
Russia and the Soviet Union; modern Europe; cultural history, especially exchange and translation; the Cold War; aesthetic reception; everyday life
I specialize in the history of modern Russia and the Soviet Union, with particular interest in Soviet culture, society, and their international context. Currently, I am completing my first book, a comprehensive history of the Soviet opening to the West during the 1950s and 1960s. This project brings together the ideas that justified cultural exchange and the diplomatic negotiations that made it possible, the secrets of museum storage rooms and the publicity of radio broadcasts, lavish international film festivals and backwater countryside screenings, enormous print runs and home-made books, state-sponsored travel and emigration. I analyze the reception of Western texts, paintings, cinema, and melodies, following them as they spread to the remotest corners of the Soviet Union. Interpreting the significance that these imports acquired, I highlight translation – as a mechanism of transfer, a process of habituation, and a metaphor for cultural interaction. The book examines what happened in this encounter to entrenched ideas of class morality and cultural supremacy, familiar ways of looking at paintings, as well as the established languages of literature and cinema.
Future projects include Stalinist culture through the prism of the tango and Russia's port cities, littoral subsystems, and maritime engagements over the past three hundred years.
Before coming to the University of Chicago, I taught at New York University.
To See Paris and Die: The Soviet Lives of Western Culture. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2018.
"The Revival of Soviet Internationalism in the 1950s" and "The Thaw as an Event in Russian History (coauthored with Denis Kozlov)." In The Thaw: Soviet Society and Culture during the 1950s and 1960s, edited by Denis Kozlov and Eleonory Gilburd. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2013.
"Picasso in Thaw Culture." Cahiers du Monde russe 47, no. 1–2 (Jan.–July 2006): 65–108
"Books and Borders: Sergei Obraztsov and Soviet Travels to London in the 1950s." In Turizm: The Russian and East European Tourist Under Capitalism and Socialism, edited by Anne Gorsuch and Diane Koenker, 227–47. Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 2006.
Published To See Paris and Die: The Soviet Lives of Western Culture (Harvard, 2018)
- Harry Robertson, Book Review, Financial Times, Dec. 14, 2018