After receiving my BA in Slavic and French studies at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor (1993), I was trained as a literary and cultural historian with a comparative specialization in Russian (MA, 1996; PhD, 1999, University of Wisconsin-Madison) and French (MA, 1998, Middlebury College). In 1999-2001, I have taught Russian language, literature, and culture at Grinnell College (Iowa), Middlebury College (Vermont), and Davidson College (North Carolina), before assuming my present position at the University of Toronto, where I have taught, since 2001, Russian and Comparative literature and Jewish studies.
My current research stems from previous projects whose results appear in several books.
How It Was Done in Paris: Russian Émigré Literature and French Modernism (2003), explored Russian literary life in interwar France, the epicenter of the anti-Soviet emigration whose cultural elite found in French artistic and intellectual traditions creative means to resist Stalinist culture. As a corollary to this project, I published a volume of documents, Le Studio franco-russe (2005), related to literary and cultural exchanges between émigré and French intellectuals. My next book, Russian Émigrés in the Intellectual and Literary Life of Interwar France (2010), examined of the exiled intelligentsia’s contribution to the aesthetic, philosophical, and political debates in interwar France. In tandem with this project, I have written a history of the Russian literary avant-garde in the 1920s Paris, to be published in 2014.
I have also explored the issue of Jewish representation in European arts and folklore, in The Jewish Persona in the European Imagination: A Case of Russian Literature (2010), which examines the meanings and functions of the language of Jewish difference in the economy of artistic texts. The final part of this book focuses on the dynamic of Jewish representation by Russian-Jewish modernist authors. Fortuitously overlapping with my research on Russian émigrés in France, this work gave new directions to my scholarly pursuits.
Presently, I am working on two inter-related projects. On the one hand, I am researching the potential role of gender in the formation of hybrid cultural and artistic identities in exile; and of modernism as a liberation ideology espoused by Russia’s educated women on a quest for new aesthetic and social ideals. On the other hand, I am writing a critical reexamination of scholarly approaches to Russian modernist culture in its European context. This revisionist study proposes new ways of conceptualizing modernist experience at the crossroads of history, sociology, and cultural studies.