My long-standing interest in terrorism as a strategy of political violence stems from the role played by the imagination in lending terrorism its power over us. Specifically, my research examines the way that modern terrorism, which arose in Russia in the mid-nineteenth century, was profoundly shaped by the Russian literary imagination. In my book Written in Blood: Revolutionary Terrorism and Russian Literary Culture, I argue that Russia's most celebrated writers and literary critics contributed to the ethos, pathos, and image of terrorism and the terrorist. The great novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky, especially, was deeply attuned to and anticipated the trajectory of terrorism in the modern world. More generally, I am interested in the intersection of political and literary narratives and am especially intrigued by political paranoia and conspiracy theories (and even better -- satires of both, like G.K. Chesterton's outstanding The Man Who Was Thursday and Mikhail Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita). These interests lead to the underlying problem of cognition and narrative: how do we know which stories to believe, and how do stories influence our perceptions of reality?
“Remembering ‘The Terrorism:’ Sergei Stepniak-Kravchinsky’s Underground Russia ” Slavic Review vol. 68 no. 4 (Winter, 2009)
“Dressed to Kill and Die: Terrorism, Gender, and Dress” Jahrbücher für Geschichte Osteuropas 58 /2010.
“The Byronic Terrorist: Boris Savinkov’s Literary Self-Mythologization” in Tony Anemone ed. Just Assassins? The Culture of Russian Terrorism Northwestern University Press, 2010.
“Fallen Women: The Female Terrorist and/as Prostitute in the Russian Literary Tradition” in Sylvia Schraut and Christine Hikel ed. Terrorismus, Geschlecht, Gedächtnis Campus Verlag, 2012.
Book manuscript Provokator: The Paranoid Style in Russian History, Politics, and Culture (manuscript, 2019)
Cluster article “‘Il rit; il rit beaucoup:’ Dostoevsky’s Provocateurs” (article solicited for the cluster “Revolutionary Dostoevsky” ed. Sarah Young)