Robert Bird

Professor, Director of Graduate Studies
Jointly appointed in the Department of Cinema and Media Studies and the College undergraduate major Fundamentals: Issues and Texts

Research Interest:
Russian literature, cinema and intellectual history

Foster 416
(773) 702-8195

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Robert Bird’s primary area of interest is the aesthetic practice and theory of Russian/Soviet modernism. He has published books on Viacheslav Ivanov, Fyodor Dostoevsky and Andrei Tarkovsky, and essays on a variety of topics in Russian literature, intellectual history, film and video art. Recently he was co-editor (with Christina Kiaer and Zachary Cahill) of Revolution Every Day: A Calendar (Mousse Publishing, 2017), the catalogue to the exhibition Revolution Every Day at the Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago, on which he was co-curator. He holds a fellowship from the Neubauer Collegium for the project “Revolutionology,” an intellectual history of revolution. He is currently completing a book ‘Soul Machine: How Soviet Film Modeled Socialism,’ which analyzes the rise of socialist realism as a modeling aesthetic.

Recent Publications:

Revolution Every Day: A Calendar. Co-edited with Christina Kiaer and Zachary Cahill. Milan: Mousse Publishing, The Smart Museum of Art, 2018. 800p.

“How to Keep Communism Aloft.” E-Flux Journal February 2018.

“Revolutionary Synchrony: A Day of the World.” Baltic Worlds X:3 (2017) pp. 45-52.

 “Stalker’s Curse.” The Review, 14 November 2017.

“Gateless Fortress: Deciphering Dostoevsky’s Drawings,” Times Literary Supplement 19 January 2018, pp. 10-11.

Viacheslav Ivanov’s Final Work: Freedom and the Tragic Life as an Authorized Translation. Europa Orientalis 35 (2016) 391-403.

“Protivostoianie formalizmu: ot simvolizma k sotsrealizmu. Pavel Medvedev, Andrei Belyi i Boris Pasternak na rubezhe 1930-kh gg.” [The opposition to Formalism, from Symbolism to Socialist Realism: Pavel Medvedev, Andrei Belyi and Boris Pasternak at the Turn of the 1930s]. Novoe literaturnoe obozrenie 139 (2016) 53-60; Epokha “ostraneniia.” Russkii formalism i sovremennoe gumanitarnoe znanie: Kollektivnaia monografiia, eds. Ia. Levchenko and I. Pil’shchikov (Moscow: Novoe literaturnoe obozrenie, 2017) pp. 276-286.

“O afeto Tarkovski” (The Tarkovsky Affect). CULT (Sao Paolo, Brazil) 214, July 2016: 38-41.

 “Lenfilm.” Companion to Russian Cinema. Ed. Birgit Beumers. London: Wiley, 2016: 66-91.

“Sotsrealism kak teoriia” [Socialist Realism as Theory]. Russkaia intellektual’naia revoliutsiia 1910-1930-kh gg. Ed. Sergei Zenkin and E. P. Shumilova. Moscow: NLO, 2016. 205-221.

"Schematics and Models of Genre: Bakhtin and Soviet Satire." Persistent Forms: Explorations in Historical Poetics, eds. Boris Maslov and Ilya Kliger (New York: Fordham University Press, 2015) 429-57.

 “Mundane Virtuosity: Olga Chernysheva’s Work on Video,” Afterall 35 (2014) 106-115. Reprinted in: Moving Image, ed. Omar Kholeif (London: Whitechapel; Boston, Mass.: MIT Press, 2015). (Documents of Contemporary Art series)

Selected Other 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.)


 “Medium Intimacy.” The Cinema of Alexander Sokurov. Eds. Birgit Beumers and Nancy Condee. London: IB Tauris, 2012: 90-106.

Portuguese: “Meio e intimidade,” trans. Paulo Scarpa, Alexander Sokurov: poeta visual, eds. Fábio Savino e Pedro França (Rio de Janeiro: Banco do Brasil, Ministério da Cultura, Zipper Produções, 2013) 219-239.

“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: 92-103.

“Intimate, International, Intense,” Vision and Communism, ed. Matthew Jesse Jackson. New York: The New Press, 2011: 39-73.


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