University of South Florida
College of Arts and Sciences
Office: SOC 201
Ph.D., University of Chicago, 1996
M.A., Yale University, 1988
I teach a variety of courses on topics related to the history of modern Europe, Imperial Russia and the Soviet Union, and historical methods and historiography. My undergraduate and graduate courses on the history of the Soviet Union, Stalinism, and twentieth-century Europe tend to focus on the problems of war and revolution, genocide and human rights, as well as culture and everyday life. When possible, I try to engage student interest by incorporating a variety of media (art, film, music) and assigning diverse readings (primary sources, literature, memoirs, poetry). In particular, I enjoy showing students my slides from when I lived in the Soviet Union and Russia under Gorbachev, Yeltsin, and Putin. Over the years, I have advised many bright USF students, both graduate and undergraduate. Some of them have been accepted into first-rate doctoral programs in Russian/Soviet history, others have joined the Peace Corps or pursued careers in international law and business, the military, diplomacy, teaching, and journalism.
I have authored two books and co-edited another. My most recent book, Illness and Inhumanity in Stalin’s Gulag, was published by Yale University Press in 2017. The work examines the system of violent human exploitation in the Stalinist forced labor camps, 1929-1953. It draws upon recently declassified archival materials from the Gulag health department to reveal how prisoners were fundamentally dehumanized and managed as commodities. Mortality was much greater than the official Soviet records indicate, as prisoners were routinely released on the verge of death. The book argues that human exploitation in the Stalinist camps was deliberately destructive and that the regime concealed the Gulag’s destructive capacity.
My first book, Stalin’s Outcasts: Aliens, Citizens, and the Soviet State, 1926-1936(Cornell, 2003), examines Stalin’s disenfranchisement policy, and the lives and voices of those deprived of rights (lishentsy). At the center of the work is an analysis of over five hundred petitions to Soviet officials for the reinstatement of rights. I discovered these handwritten letters from social outcasts in a closed archive in western Siberia just months after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The book demonstrates how, from Kremlin leaders to marked aliens, many engaged in identifying citizens and non-citizens and challenging the terms of social membership in the Stalinist state.
The volume I co-edited, Writing the Stalin Era: Sheila Fitzpatrick and Soviet Historiography (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011) includes my article, “A Torture Memo: Reading Violence in the Gulag.” I have published several articles including, most recently: “Medical Research in Stalin’s Gulag,” Bulletin of the History of Medicine (2016); “Exiting the Gulag after War: Women, Invalids, and the Family,” Jahrbücher für Geschichte Osteuropas(2009); “Stalin and the Politics of Kinship: Practices of Collective Punishment, 1920s-1940s,” Comparative Studies in Society and History (2008); “Soviet Citizenship, More or Less: Rights, Emotions and States of Civic Belonging,” Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History (2006); and “Amnesty 1945: The Revolving Door of Stalin’s Gulag,” Slavic Review (2005).
Modern Europe, Russia and the Soviet Union, Stalin and Stalinism