Robert Bird

Robert Bird
Professor in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures, Department of Cinema and Media Studies, and the College
Ph.D., Yale University
Research 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 was 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 was also the author of two books on the film-maker Andrei Tarkovsky, Andrei Rublev (2004) and his best-known 2008 monograph Andrei Tarkovsky: Elements of Cinema, which has been translated into Chinese, Farsi and Portuguese, and will be published in Russian later in 2020 using Bird’s own translation. 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 was published by Reaktion Books in 2012 as part of their series Critical Lives.

Robert Bird passed away on September 7 2020 after a battle with cancer. A tribute to his life and work, written by his friend and colleague Jennifer Wild, can be found here.




Courses taught during his time at UChicago include: Dostoevsky; Film and Revolution; Long-Take Cinema; Russian Modernist Poetry; History of International Cinema, Part II: Sound to 1960; Revolution; The Underground - Alienation, Mobilization, Resistance; Russian Civilization; and The Aesthetics of Socialist Realism.


Revolution Every Day - September 2017-January 2018

Revolution Everyday

Presented on the centenary of the 1917 Russian Revolution, this exhibition immersed visitors in the distinct textures and speeds of everyday life that arose—and have lingered stubbornly—in the wake of revolutionary upheaval.

Revolution Every Day juxtaposed works of Soviet graphic art—primarily posters from the 1920s and 1930s, many by female artists such as Valentina Kulagina—with works on video and film, including excerpts from Dziga Vertov’s documentary films from the 1930s, post-Soviet videos by artists like Olga Chernysheva, as well as a new commission by Cauleen Smith. Focused on the experiences of women under (and after) communism, these works involved viewers in visual and aural conversations concerning the temporality of the everyday, revealing how socialist labor involves feats of endurance and patience as much as heroic action.

The exhibition was held by the Smart Museum of Art and curated by Robert Bird and Christina Kiaer