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Recent Faculty Publications

Vladimir Alexandrov

The Black Russian

The Black Russian (2014)

The Black Russian chronicles the life of the notable African-American who began life as a Mississippi farm boy but moved to Russian 1899 and became one of the city’s richest and most famous owners of restaurants and variety theaters. Shortlisted for the Pushkin House Russian Book Prize (UK); Winner of the Yale MacMillan Center Gustav Ranis International Book Prize.

Sergei Antonov

Bankrupts and Usurers of Imperial Russia

Bankrupts and Usurers of Imperial Russia: Debt, Property, and the Law in the Age of Dostoevsky and Tolstoy (2016)

Professor Antonov’s first book, Bankrupts and Usurers of Imperial Russia: Debt, Property, and the Law in the Age of Dostoevsky and Tolstoy, appeared from Harvard University Press in 2016. It won the Ed A. Hewett Book Prize for an outstanding publication on the political economy of Russia, Eurasia and/or Eastern Europe, awarded by the Association for Slavic, East European, & Eurasian Studies. It is the first full-length history of the culture of personal debt in Russia. Based on close readings of previously unexamined court cases, it argues that informal personal debt was central to the imperial-era regime of private property, which, in turn, underpinned Russia’s social and political stability.

Edyta Bojanowska

A World of Empires

A World of Empires: The Russian Voyage of the Frigate Pallada (2018)

Many people are familiar with American Commodore Matthew Perry’s expedition to open trade relations with Japan in the early 1850s. Less well known is that on the heels of the Perry squadron followed a Russian expedition secretly on the same mission. Serving as secretary to the naval commander was novelist Ivan Goncharov, who turned his impressions into a book, The Frigate “Pallada”, which became a bestseller in imperial Russia. In A World of Empires, Edyta Bojanowska uses Goncharov’s fascinating travelogue as a window onto global imperial history in the mid-nineteenth century.

Reflecting on encounters in southern Africa’s Cape Colony, Dutch Java, Spanish Manila, Japan, and the British ports of Singapore, Hong Kong, and Shanghai, Goncharov offers keen observations on imperial expansion, cooperation, and competition. Britain’s global ascendancy leaves him in equal measures awed and resentful. In Southeast Asia, he recognizes an increasingly interlocking world in the vibrant trading hubs whose networks encircle the globe. Traveling overland back home, Goncharov presents Russia’s colonizing rule in Siberia as a positive imperial model, contrasted with Western ones.

Marijeta Bozovic

 Poetics and Politics of the Danube River

Watersheds: Poetics and Politics of the Danube River, ed. Marijeta Bozovic and Matthew Miller (2015)

The Danube serves as an artery of a culturally diverse geographic region, frustrating attempts to divide Europe from non-Europe, and facilitating the flow of economic and cultural forms of international exchange. Yet the river has attracted little scholarly attention, and what exists too often privileges single disciplinary or national perspectives. Adopting a multidisciplinary approach to the river and its cultural imaginaries, the anthology “Watersheds: Poetics and Politics of the Danube River” remedies this neglect and explores the river as a site of transcultural engagement in the New Europe.

Nabokov’s Canon

Nabokov’s Canon (2016)

Nabokov’s translation of Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin (1964) and its accompanying Commentary, along with Ada, or Ardor (1969), his densely allusive late English-language novel, have appeared nearly inscrutable to many interpreters of his work. If not outright failures, they are often considered relatively unsuccessful curiosities. In Bozovic’s insightful study, these key texts reveal Nabokov’s ambitions to reimagine a canon of nineteenth- and twentieth-century Western masterpiesces with Russian literature as a central, rather than marginal, strain [of his work].

Nabokov Upside Down

Nabokov Upside Down (2017), ed. Brian Boyd and Marijeta Bozovic

Nabokov Upside Down brings together essays that explicitly diverge from conventional topics and points of reference when interpreting a writer whose influence on contemporary literature is unrivaled. Scholars from around the world here read Nabokov in terms of bodies rather than minds, belly-laughs rather than erudite wit, servants rather than master-artists, or Asian rather than Western perspectives.

Molly Brunson

 Literature and Painting, 1840-1890

Russian Realisms: Literature and Painting, 1840-1890 (2016)

By tracing the engagement of literature and painting with aesthetic debates on the sister arts, Brunson argues for a conceptualization of realism that transcends artistic media. Russian Realisms integrates the lesser-known tradition of Russian painting with the familiar masterpieces of Russia’s great novelists, highlighting both the common ground in their struggles for artistic realism and their cultural autonomy and legitimacy.

Paul Bushkovitch

A Concise History of Russia (2011)

Accessible to students, tourists and general readers alike, this book provides a broad overview of Russian history since the ninth century. Paul Bushkovitch emphasizes the enormous changes in the understanding of Russian history resulting from the end of the Soviet Union in 1991. Since then, new material has come to light on the history of the Soviet era, providing new conceptions of Russia’s pre-revolutionary past. The book traces not only the political history of Russia, but also developments in its literature, art and science. Bushkovitch describes well-known cultural figures, such as Chekhov, Tolstoy and Mendeleev, in their institutional and historical contexts. Though the 1917 revolution, the resulting Soviet system and the Cold War were a crucial part of Russian and world history, Bushkovitch presents earlier developments as more than just a prelude to Bolshevik power.

“Peter the Great and the Northern War,” in Dominic Lieven, ed., The Cambridge History of Russia.vol. 2 (2006)

From the end of the fifteenth century to Peter’s time the main preoccupation of Russian foreign policy was the competition with Poland-Lithuania for territory and power on the East European plain. Peter’s new war was also a surprise because Russian foreign policy after 1667 had been preoccupied with the Ottoman Empire and its Crimean vassal. In Peter’s time, from the 1670s to 1719, the population grew from some 11 million to about 15.5 million. Russia’s foreign trade grew throughout the century, primarily through Archangel. The final war of Peter’s life was in a totally different direction, and seems to have been entirely commercial in inspiration. Peter’s dreams and Russia’s new position demanded not only a better army and navy, it demanded a new diplomatic corps. Russian culture changed rapidly after about 1650, with knowledge of Polish and Latin spreading among the elite and much geographic knowledge in translation as well.

Peter the Great: the Struggle for Power 1671-1725 (2001)

A narrative of the fifty years of political struggles at the Russian court, 1671–1725. This book shows how Peter the Great was not the all-powerful tsar working alone to reform Russia, but that he colluded with powerful and contentious aristocrats in order to achieve his goals. After the early victory of Peter’s boyar supporters in the 1690s, Peter turned against them and tried to rule through favourites - an experiment which ended in the establishment of a decentralized ‘aristocratic’ administration, followed by an equally aristocratic Senate in 1711. The aristocrats’ hegemony came to an end in the wake of the affair of Peter’s son, Tsarevich Aleksei, in 1718. After that moment Peter ruled through a complex group of favourites, a few aristocrats and appointees promoted through merit, and carried out his most long-lasting reforms. The outcome was a new balance of power at the centre and a new, European, conception of politics.

David Engerman

The Price of Aid: The Economic Cold War in India (2018)

Looking back to the origins and evolution of foreign aid during the Cold War, David C. Engerman invites us to recognize the strategic thinking at the heart of development assistance—as well as the political costs.

In The Price of Aid, Engerman argues that superpowers turned to foreign aid as a tool of the Cold War. India, the largest of the ex-colonies, stood at the center of American and Soviet aid competition. Officials of both superpowers saw development aid as an instrument for pursuing geopolitics through economic means. But Indian officials had different ideas, seeking superpower aid to advance their own economic visions, thus bringing external resources into domestic debates about India’s economic future. Drawing on an expansive set of documents, many recently declassified, from seven countries, Engerman reconstructs a story of Indian leaders using Cold War competition to win battles at home, but in the process eroding the Indian state.

Laura Engelstein

Russia in Flames

Russia in Flames (2017)

In this monumental and sweeping new account, Laura Engelstein delves into the seven years of chaos surrounding 1917 – the war, the revolutionary upheaval, and the civil strife it provoked. These were years of breakdown and brutal violence on all sides, punctuated by the decisive turning points of February and October. As Engelstein proves definitively, the struggle for power engaged not only civil society and party leaders, but the broad masses of the population and every corner of the far-reaching empire, well beyond Moscow and Petrograd.

Marta Figlerowicz

 Affect and Awareness in Modernist Literature

Spaces and Feeling: Affect and Awareness in Modernist Literature (2017)

Spaces of Feeling features close readings of works by Virginia Woolf, James Baldwin, John Ashbery, Ralph Ellison, Marcel Proust, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Sylvia Plath and Wallace Stevens. Figlerowicz points out that these poets and novelists often place their protagonists in domestic spaces – such as bedrooms, living rooms, and basements – in which their cognitive dependence on other characters inhabiting these spaces becomes clear. Figlerowicz highlights the diversity of aesthetic and sociopolitical contexts in which these affective dependencies become central to these authors’ representations of selfhood. By setting these novels and poems in conversation with the work of contemporary theorists, she illuminates pressing and unanswered questions about subjectivity.

 A Theory of Novel Character

Flat Protagonists: A Theory of Novel Character (2016)

We’ve all encountered protagonists who, over the course of the novel, turn out to be more complicated than we thought at first. But what does one do with a major character who simplifies as a novel progresses, to the point where even this novel’s other characters begin to disregard him? Flat Protaganists shows that writers have undertaken such formal experiments – which give rise to its titular “flat protagonists” – since the novel’s incipience. It finds such characters in British and French novels ranging from the late-seventeenth to the early-twentieth century by Aphra Behn, Isabelle de Charrière, Fraçoise de Graffigny, Thomas Hardy and Marcel Proust.

John MacKay

 Life and Work

Dziga Vertov: Life and Work (Volume 1: 1896-1921) (2018)

Largely forgotten during the last 20 years of his life, the Soviet filmmaker Dziga Vertov (1896-1954) has occupied a singular and often controversial position over the pasty sixty years as a founding figure of documentary, avant-gard and political-propaganda film practice. Creator of “Man with a Movie Camera” (1929), perhaps the most celebrated non-fiction film ever made, Vertov is equally renowned as the most militant opponent of the canons of mainstream filmmaking in the history of cinema. This book, the first of a three-volume study, addresses Vertov’s youth in the largely Jewish city of Bialystok, his education in Petrograd, his formative years of involvement in filmmaking, his experiences during the Russian Civil War, and his interests in music, poetry and technology.

Isabela Mares

Conditionality & Coercion: Electoral Clientelism in Eastern Europe

Conditionality and Coercion: Electoral Clientelism in Eastern Europe uses a mixed method approach to understand how illegal forms of campaigning including vote buying and electoral coercion persist in two democratic countries in the European Union. It argues that we must disaggregate clientelistic strategies based on whether they use public or private resources, and whether they involve positive promises or negative threats and coercion. We document that the type of clientelistic strategies that candidates and brokers use varies systematically across localities based on their underlying social coalitions. We also show that voters assess and sanction different forms of clientelism in different ways. Voters glean information about politicians’ personal characteristics and their policy preferences from the clientelistic strategies these candidates deploy.

From Open Secrets to Secret Voting: Democratic Electoral Reforms and Voter Autonomy (2015)

The expansion of suffrage and the introduction of elections are momentous political changes that represent only the first steps in the process of democratization. In the absence of institutions that protect the electoral autonomy of voters against a range of actors who seek to influence voting decisions, political rights can be just hollow promises. This book examines the adoption of electoral reforms that protected the autonomy of voters during elections and sought to minimize undue electoral influences over decisions made at the ballot box. Empirically, it focuses on the adoption of reforms protecting electoral secrecy in Imperial Germany during the period between 1870 and 1912. The book provides a micro-historical analysis of the democratization of electoral practices, by showing how changes in district level economic and political conditions contributed to the formation of an encompassing political coalition supporting the adoption of electoral reforms.

Isaac Nakhimovsky

Commerce and Peace in the Enlightenment

Commerce and Peace in the Enlightenment (2017), ed. Béla Kapossy, Isaac Nakhimovsky, Richard Whatmore

For many Enlightenment thinkers, discerning the relationship between commerce and peace was the central issue of modern politics. This volume showcases the variety and the depth of approaches to economic rivalry and the rise of public finance that characterized Enlightenment discussions of international politics. It presents a fundamental reassessment of these debates about ‘perpetual peace’ and their legacy in the history of political thought.

 Jealousy of Trade and the History of Political Thought

Markets, Morals, Politics: Jealousy of Trade and the History of Political Thought, ed. Béla Kapossy, Isaac Nakhimovsky, Sophus A. Reinert, Richard Whatmore

When Istvan Hont died in 2013, the world lost a giant of intellectual history. A leader of the Cambridge School of Political Thought, Hont argued passionately for a global-historical approach to political ideas. To better understand the development of liberalism, he looked not only to the works of great thinkers but also to their reception and use amid revolution and interstate competition. His innovative program of study culminated in the landmark 2005 book Jealousy of Trade, which explores the birth of economic nationalism and other social effects of expanding eighteenth-century markets. Markets, Morals, Politics brings together a celebrated cast of Hont’s contemporaries to assess his influence, ideas and methods.

Douglas Rogers

The Depths of Russia

The Depths of Russia (2015)

In The Depths of Russia, Douglas Rogers offers a nuanced and multifaceted analysis of oil’s place in Soviet and Russian life, based on ethnographic fieldwork and archival research in the Perm region of the Urals. Moving beyond models of oil calibrated to capitalist centers and postcolonial ‘petrostates,’ Rogers traces the distinctive contours of the socialist – and then postsocialist – oil complex, showing how oil has figured in the making and remaking of space and time, state and corporation, exchange and money, and past and present.

Susan Rose-Ackerman

 The United States, South Africa, Germany, and the European Union

Due Process of Lawmaking: The United States, South Africa, Germany, and the European Union (2018)

With nuanced perspective and detailed case studies, Due Process of Lawmaking explores the law of lawmaking in the United States, South Africa, Germany, and the European Union. This comparative work deals broadly with public policymaking in the legislative and executive branches. In dialogue with each other, the case studies demonstrate the interplay between constitutional principles and political imperatives under a range of different conditions.

Marci Shore

 An Intimate History of Revolution

The Ukrainian Night: An Intimate History of Revolution (2018)

In this lyrical and intimate book, Marci Shore evokes the human face of the Ukrainian Revolution. Grounded in the true stories of activists and soldiers, parents and children, Shore’s book blends a narrative of suspenseful choices with a historian’s reflections on what revolution is and what it means. She gently sets her portraits of individual revolutionaries against the past as they understand it – and the future as they hope to make it. In so doing, she provides a lesson about human solidarity in a world, our world, where the boundary between reality and fiction is ever more effaced.

Timothy Snyder

The Road to Unfreedom

The Road to Unfreedom: Russia, Europe, America (2018)

In this forceful and unsparing work of contemporary history, based on vast research as well as personal reporting, Snyder goes beyond the headlines to expose the true nature of the threat to democracy and law. To understand the challenge is to see, and perhaps renew, the fundamental political virtues offered by tradition and demanded by the future. By revealing the stark choices before us – between equality and oligarchy, individuality or totality, truth and falsehood – Snyder restores our understanding of the basis of our way of life, offering a way forward in a time of terrible uncertainty.

 Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century

On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century (2017)

The Founding Fathers tried to protect us from the threat they knew, the tyranny that overcame ancient democracy. Today, our political order faces new threats, not unlike the totalitarianism of the twentieth century. We are no wiser than the Europeans who saw democracy yield to fascism, Nazism, or communism. Our one advantage is that we might learn from their experience.

 The Holocaust as History and Warning

Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning (2016)

In this epic history of extermination and survival, Timothy Snyder presents a new explanation of the great atrocity of the twentieth century, and reveals the risks that we face in the twenty-first. Based on new sources from Eastern Europe and forgotten testimonies from Jewish survivors, Black Earth, recounts the mass murder of the Jews as an event that is still close to us, more comprehensible than we would like to think, and thus all the more terrifying.

Julia Titus

Poetry Reader for Russian Learners

Poetry Reader for Russian Learners (2015)

Through the poetry of nineteenth- and twentieth-century Russian authors, including Pushkin and Akhmatova, Poetry Reader for Russian Learners helps upper-beginner, intermediate, and advanced Russian students refine their language skills. The text facilitates students’ interaction with authentic texts by means of a complete set of learning tools, including biographical sketches of each poet, stress marks, annotations, exercises, questions for discussion, and a glossary.

Aleh Tsyvinski

The Industrialization and Economic Development of Russian

The Industrialization and Economic Development of Russia through the Lens of a Neoclassical Growth Model, with Anton Cheremukhin, Mikhail Golosov, Sergei Guriev (2017)

This article studies the structural transformation of Russia in 1885-1940 from an agrarian to an industrial economy through the lens of a two-sector neoclassical growth model. We construct a data set that covers Tsarist Russia during 1885-1931 and the Soviet Union during 1928-1940. We develop a methodology that allows us to identify the types of frictions and economic mechanisms that had the largest quantitative impact on Russian economic development. We find no evidence that Tsarist agricultural institutions were a significant barrier to labor reallocation to manufacturing, or that “Big Push” mechanisms were a major driver of Soviet growth.

Tomas Venclova

 Conversations with Thomas Venclova

Magnetic North: Conversations with Thomas Venclova, by Tomas Venclova and Ellen Hinsey (2017)

Taking the form of an extended interview with Lithuanian poet Tomas Venclova, the book interweaves Eastern European postwar history, dissidence, and literature. Venclova, who personally knew Akhmatova, Pasternak, Milosz, Brodsky, and many others, was also one of the five founding members of the Lithuanian Helskinki Group, one of the first human rights organizations in Eastern Europe. Magnetic North provides an in-depth account of ethical choices and artistic resistance to totalitarianism over a half century. It also details Venclova’s artistic work, expanding our understanding of the significance of this writer, whose books are central to contemporary European culture.