My career research interests focus on the nexus of technology, culture, politics, and the arts in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Russia.
In 2006, Cambridge University Press launched its “Centennial of Flight Series” with the publication of my first monograph, Dictatorship of the Air: Aviation Culture and the Fate of Modern Russia. Drawing upon never-before utilized archival, documentary, and visual sources, Dictatorship of the Air remains the only account, in any language, to examine the evolution, institutionalization, and representation of Russian machine-powered flight. The work challenges scholars to reconsider vital linkages between technology and culture in Russia by demonstrating that Imperial and Soviet responses to the airplane were grounded in shared assumptions about authority, modernity, and state-sponsored development deeply rooted in the nation’s traditions and markedly different from those embraced in the West.
Dictatorship of the Air was the first Russian history selected to be “born digital” by the American Council of Learned Societies’ Humanities E-Book Project. In late 2007, ACLS published an expanded, XML-encoded version of my monograph. This on-line edition, including an additional chapter, digitized archival documents and film clips, and original translations of rare short stories, poems, and essays, is a more complete demonstration of my research findings. An example of the ways on-line platforms can enhance and strengthen historical understanding, the e-book is a valuable model for those interested in utilizing new media in scholarship and teaching.
Currently I am at work on a second monograph. Tentatively titled, How Russia was Made: Technology and Culture from the Icon to the Internet, my next book will fill a major gap in existing literature as the first survey of technology’s contributions to Russian historical development. Based upon secondary sources and archival materials, this work-in-progress employs a comparative approach in examining the foreign origins and domestic development of major technological systems from the founding of the Kievan State through the opening decades of the twenty-first century. The study will reveal how technological innovation has tested political leaders, transformed social institutions, and inspired new cultural forms while drawing attention to the material burdens and symbolic meanings that have accompanied Russian modernization.