About me

I am interested in the intellectual history of Soviet Russia and its literary institutions. My new project is an in-depth exploration of the paradoxical history of institutionalised intellectual autonomy in Stalin’s Russia. By combining intellectual and institutional history, I locate and reconstruct a seminal moment of state-sponsored liberalization of Soviet literary and art criticism and demonstrate its impact on Soviet cultural institutions during the Great Terror of the 1930s. Starting from the late 1920s, literary and art criticism in the Soviet Union was dominated by ‘vulgar sociology’, a repressive form of Marxist aesthetics which discussed literature and art exclusively in terms of the socioeconomic origin and status of the respective authors. In the early 1930s, a group of intellectuals led by two prominent philosophers, Georg Lukács and Mikhail Lifshitz, was sanctioned by the state to launch a campaign countering this style of criticism. To reveal the contradictory implications of the struggle against ‘vulgar sociology’ for institutionalised intellectual autonomy, I reconstruct the hitherto insufficiently researched history of IFLI, the Institute of Philosophy, Literature, and History in Moscow (1931-1941) which became the central platform for this campaign. Following its establishment in 1931, IFLI had grown to become a prestigious college where students of different backgrounds were taught by leading Soviet philosophers, translators, and literary and art critics.

My upcoming monograph, The Secret Order of Shandeans: Laurence Sterne and his Readers in Soviet Russia,  explores the translations and interpretations of the eighteenth-century British writer Laurence Sterne in Soviet Russia during the 1920s-30s. By providing a microhistory of reader responses to Sterne and introducing a range of previously unpublished archival materials (translations, illustrations, interpretations, and personal correspondence), it sheds new light on the mechanisms of cultural transfer and on the place of translated literature in the wider Soviet canon. My research has appeared in leading peer-reviewed journals and collections. I have published in such venues as The Slavic and East European JournalNovoe Literaturnoe Obozrenie, and The Shandean, the leading journal for Laurence Sterne studies. I authored a chapter for the first-ever collection of scholarly essays dedicated to Laurence Sterne's A Sentimental Journey, where I suggest an innovative reading of this work. Also in 2021, I published an unknown 1934 translation of Sterne’s Tristram Shandy by the prominent Russian philosopher Gustav Shpet, with my introduction and notes. I have also co-edited a cluster on ‘Early Soviet Translations of English Literature’ for The Slavic and East European Journal, to appear in 2022. Additionally, I am co-editing, with Emily Finer, a volume of scholarly essays entitled World Literature in Soviet Contexts to be published by Bloomsbury Academic (2023).

I earned my master's degree at the University of Toronto and my doctorate at the University of Oxford, where I was supported by the Clarendon scholarship.