Robert Bird

Professor, Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures, Department of Cinema and Media Studies, and the College.
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Foster 416
(773) 702-8195

Special Interests

Aesthetic practice and theory of Russian modernism; the symbolist tradition in cinema and new media; poetry and cinema; contemporary theories of aesthetic mediation; the history of Soviet cinema; Andrei Tarkovsky

Robert Bird's main area of interest is the aesthetic practice and theory of Russian modernism. His first full-length book Russian Prospero (2006) is a comprehensive study of the poetry and thought of Viacheslav Ivanov. He is also the author of two books on the film-maker Andrei Tarkovsky, Andrei Rublev (2004) and Andrei Tarkovsky: Elements of Cinema (2008). His translations of Russian religious thought include On Spiritual Unity: A Slavophile Reader (1998) and Viacheslav Ivanov's Selected Essays (2001). His biography of Fyodor Dostoevsky is forthcoming from Reaktion Books in their series Critical Lives.

In 2011 Robert has been involved in three exhibitions of Soviet graphic art, including "Adventures in the Soviet Imaginary," for which he has edited the catalogue, compiled in part from contributions by graduate students. He is at work on a series of essays on scale models, primarily in Soviet literature and cinema.

Selected Publications


  • Fyodor Dostoevsky. London: Reaktion Books, 2012. (Series "Critical Lives") 
  • Andrei Tarkovsky: Elements of Cinema. London: Reaktion Books, 2008. 255p.
  • The Russian Prospero: The creative universe of Viacheslav Ivanov. Madison, WI: The University of Wisconsin Press, 2006. 310p. 
  • Andrei Rublev [by Andrei Tarkovsky] . London: BFI, 2004. 87p. (BFI Film Classics). Czech translation 2006; French translation 2008.

Volumes translated with critical apparatus:

  • Viacheslav Ivanov. Selected Essays. Translated and with notes by Robert Bird. Edited and with an introduction by Michael Wachtel. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 2001. Paperback edition: 2003. 328p. 
  • With Boris Jakim. On Spiritual Unity: A Slavophile Anthology, Hudson, NY: Lindisfarne Press, 1998. 365p.

Volumes edited:

  • Konstantin Bal'mont, Pis'ma k Dagmar [Letters to Dagmar]. Forthcoming. 
  • Adventures in the Soviet Imaginary: Soviet Children's Books and Graphic Art. Chicago: University of Chicago Library, 2011. 
  • Viacheslav Ivanov and Mikhail Gershenzon. Perepiska iz dvukh uglov [Correspondence from Two Corners]. Ed. Robert Bird. Moscow: Vodolei Publishers, Progress-Pleiada, 2006. 207p. (Edition of text and extensive historical essay.)

Articles and Book Chapters:

  • "The Poetics of Peat in Soviet Literary and Visual Culture." Slavic Review vol. 70 no. 3 (Fall 2011) 591-614.
  • "The Functions of Poetry: TASS Windows and the Soviet Media System in Wartime." Windows on the War. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2011.
  • "Intimate, International, Intense," catalogue essay for Vision and Communism, ed. Matthew Jesse Jackson. New York: The New Press, 2011.
  • "Uzbek Elegy: The Films of Ali Khamraev." ArtMargins June 2011.
  • "The Celluloid Icon," in The Icon and Modernity, eds. Jefferson Gattrall and Douglas Greenfield. Penn State University Press, 2010. 227-45 (and plates 15, 16)
  • "Russian Symbolism and the Aesthetics of Cinema: Viacheslav Ivanov, Alexander Bakshy and Adrian Piotrovskii." Sankirtos: Studies in Russian and East European Literature, Society and Culture. Vienna: Peter Lang, 2008. Pp. 195-217.
  • "The Imprinted Image." Tarkovsky , ed. Nathan Dunne (London: Black Dog Publishing, 2008) 207-29.
  • "Voices of Silence: Antigone and Niobe in Akhmatova's Requiem ." Festschrift Anna Lisa Crone . Bloomington, IN: Slavica, 2007) 331-49.
  • "Voices of History: The Narrative Poem in Russian Modernism." Slavic and East European Journal v. 51, no. 1 (2007).
  • "Viach. Ivanov i massovye prazdnestva rannei sovetskoi epokhi" [V. Ivanov and the Early Soviet Mass Festivals]. Russkaia literatura no. 2, 2006, 174-190.
  • V. I. Ivanov, "K voprosu ob organizatsii tvorcheskikh sil narodnogo kollektiva v oblasti khudozhestvennogo deistva" [On the Organization of the Popular Collective's Creative Forces in the Realm of Artistic Act], ed. Robert Bird, Russkaia literatura no. 2, 2006, 189-197.
  • "Russkii simvolizm i razvitie kino-estetiki: Nasledie Viach. Ivanova u A. Bakshi i Adr. Piotrovskogo." Novoe literaturnoe obozrenie no. 2, 2006, 67-98.
  • With E. V. Ivanova. "Byl li vinoven Bal'mont?" [Was Bal'mont Guilty?], Russkaia literatura (St. Petersburg). No. 3 (2004) 55-85.
  • "Refiguring the Russian Type: Dostoevsky and the Limits of Realism." Focus on The Brothers Karamazov. Ed. Robert L. Jackson. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 2004. 17-30.
  • "The Tragedy of Russian Religious Philosophy: Sergei Bulgakov and the Future of Orthodox Theology." Orthodox Christianity and Contemporary Europe. Eds. Jonathan Sutton and Wil van den Bercken. Leuven-Paris-Dudley, MA: Peeters, 2003. 211-28.
  • "The Geology of Memory: Pavel Florenskii's Hermeneutic Theology," Pavel Florenskij: tradition und modern. Eds. N. Franz, M. Hagemeister, F. Haney. Frankfurt et al.: Peter Lang, 2001. 83-95.
  • "YMCA i sud'by russkoi religioznoi mysli (1906-1947)" [The YMCA and Russian Religious Thought], Issledovaniia po istorii russkoi mysli. Ezhegodnik. 2000. Moscow: OGI, 2000. 165-223.
  • "Martin Heidegger and Russian Symbolist Philosophy," Studies in East European Thought 51 (1999): 85-108.
  • "Viacheslav Ivanov i sovetskaia vlast'. Neizvestnye materialy" [V. Ivanov and the Soviet Government: Unknown Materials], Novoe literaturnoe obozrenie no. 40 (1999) 305-331.



  • Introduction to Russian Literature (all periods)
  • Humanities Core Curriculum ("Human Being and Citizen")
  • Andrei Tarkovsky's Andrei Rublev
  • The Late Tolstoy
  • The Demons
  • The Brothers Karamazov
  • Russian and Polish Film 1956-present
  • all levels of Russian language from introductory to advanced


  • The Soviet Imaginary
  • Poetic Cinema
  • Image, Narrative, Thought
  • The Aesthetics of Eastern Orthodoxy
  • Narratives of Suspense in Literature and Cinema
  • Marxism and Modernism
  • The Russian Narrative Poem of the 20th Century
  • Andrei Platonov

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