Department of History


Associate Professor, Department of History
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(812) 386-76-34
  • (Re)Writing Soviet and Contemporary Russian History, Semester 1 – From the Late Imperial Period to the Death of Stalin
  • (Re)Writing Soviet and Contemporary Russian History, Semester 2 – From the Death of Stalin to the Present
  • Autobiography in Russia: Theory and Practice
  • The Modern Self and Subjectivity



  • Ph.D., Columbia University, 2011
  • M.Phil., Columbia University, 2003
  • M.A., Columbia University, 2002
  • B.A., Northwestern University, 1999

Research interests

Intellectual and cultural history of the Stalin-era and post-Stalin-era USSR; subjectivity, autobiography, and genre in Russian and Soviet history; and Russian and Soviet literature.

Professor Anatoly Pinsky’s current book project, provisionally titled, The Origins of the Thaw: Thought and Literature under Stalin and Khrushchev, begins with the observation that, after the death of Joseph Stalin in 1953, Soviet intellectuals devoted more attention to the views of ordinary citizens. What were the origins of this shift, and what precisely does it refer to? Professor Pinsky’s book addresses these questions by studying writers whose careers began under Stalin but continued into the post-Stalin era, such as Aleksandr Tvardovskii and Fedor Abramov. The project uncovers a 1930s Soviet romanticism, conceptualized as positing a natural seed in the self, to be cultivated by the Stalinist Party into a true individual and agent of history. Professor Pinsky shows that romanticism, having bestowed the self with a natural core, granted it an epistemological space that enabled independent exploration. A root of the turn to the individual is thus paradoxically found in high Stalinism.

If the individual was cast as a force of progress under Stalin, the most important engine of history was the Soviet leader himself. In contrast, Stalin’s successors democratized their view of historical agency. Tvardovskii, Abramov, and others took a further step, asserting that citizens also had the right to search for the truth. They thus decentered the source of knowledge, embracing what Professor Pinsky calls an ideal of epistemological autonomy. The ideal found expression especially in diaries, a form his subjects privileged over the once dominant novel. He argues that the rise of a new privileged genre was related dialogically to the ascent of the new normative subjectivity. He thus foregrounds the historical significance of literary form, long overlooked in work on Soviet history.

Professor Pinsky is also working on a long historiographical essay on the concept of subjectivity in Russian studies.


Edited Volumes

  • Editor of, and author of introduction for, Posle Stalina: pozdnesovetskaia sub”ektivnost’ (1953-1985) [After Stalin: Subjectivity in the Late Soviet Union (1953-1985)] (Saint Petersburg: Izdatel'stvo EUSPb, 2018) 


Peer-Reviewed Articles

  • “The Origins of Post-Stalin Individuality: Aleksandr Tvardovskii and the Evolution of 1930s Soviet Romanticism,” Russian Review, Vol. 76, No. 3 (July 2017): 458-83

  •  “The Diaristic Form and Subjectivity under Khrushchev,” Slavic Review, Vol. 73, No. 4 (Winter 2014): 805-27


Review Essays

  •  “Soviet Modernity Post-Stalin: The State, Emotions, and Subjectivity,” Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History, Vol. 16, No. 2 (Spring 2015): 395-411


 Conference Proceedings

  •  “Znachenie iskrennosti: Fedor Abramov i pervaia ottepel’, 1952-1954” [The Meaning of Sincerity: Fedor Abramov and the First Thaw, 1952-1954], translated by Vitaliy Eyber. In Chelovek i lichnost’ v Rossii: XIX-XX vv: Materialy mezhdunarodnogo kollokviuma (Sankt-Peterburg, 7-10 iuniia 2010 goda)[The Person and Personality in Russia: The Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries: Materials from an International Colloquium (Saint Petersburg, June 7-10, 2010)], edited by Jochen Hellbeck and Nikolai Mikhailov, 598-612. Saint Petersburg: Nestor-Istoriia, 2013


Work in progress

  • Editor of, and author of introduction for, Subjectivity after Stalin, special issue of Russian Studies in History 
  • "The Origins of the Thaw: Thought and Literature under Stalin and Khrushchev"(book-length manuscript) 



  • Aleksanteri Institute (Helsinki, Finland), Aleksanteri Visiting Fellowship (Spring 2016)
  • Harriman Institute at Columbia University Pepsico Research/Travel Fellowship (Winter 2010, Winter 2004-05, Winter 2003-04)
  • Harriman Institute at Columbia University Junior Fellowship (2009-10, 2007-08)
  • Columbia University at Columbia University History Department Teaching Fellowship (Spring 2007, Fall 2004, 2001-03)
  • Harriman Institute at Columbia University Philip Moseley/John H. Backer Fellowship (2006-07)
  • American Councils for International Education (ACTR/ACCELS), Advanced Research Fellowship (2005-06)
  • Columbia University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Summer Fellowship (2005)
  • Columbia University English Department Teaching Fellowship (Spring 2005, 2003-04)
  • Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship, German (Summer 2004)
  • Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship, Ukrainian (Summer 2003, Summer 2002)
  • Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship, Russian (Summer 2001)


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