Svetlana Boym

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Svetlana Boym (Russian: Светла́на Ю́рьевна Бо́йм; 1959[1] – August 5, 2015)[2] was the Curt Hugo Reisinger Professor of Slavic and Comparative Literatures at Harvard University, and a media artist, playwright and novelist.[3] She was an associate of the Graduate School of Design and Architecture at Harvard University. Much of her work focused on developing the new theoretical concept of the off-modern.


Boym was born in Leningrad, USSR. She studied Spanish at the Herzen Pedagogical Institute in Leningrad.[4] She received an M.A. from Boston University and a Ph.D. from Harvard.[5] Boym passed away on August 5, 2015, aged 56, in Boston, Massachusetts, following a year-long battle with cancer.[5]


Boym's written work explored relationships between utopia and kitsch, memory and modernity, and homesickness and the sickness of home.[6] Her research interests included 20th-century Russian literature, cultural studies, comparative literature and literary studies. In addition to teaching and writing, Boym also sat on the Editorial Collective of the interdisciplinary scholarly journal Public Culture. Boym was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Cabot Award for Research in Humanities, and an award from the American Council of Learned Societies. She won a Gilette Company Fellowship which provided her half a year study at the American Academy in Berlin.[7]

Artistic practice[edit]

In 2006, an exhibition showing Boym's media art opened in Factory Rog-Metelkovo, an art space in Ljubljana during the City of Women Festival. After that, she exhibited her work in various spaces including the Center for Book Arts in New York in 2008, and Galerija 101 in Kaunas in 2009.

She also curated the exhibit "Territories of Terror: Memories and Mythologies of Gulag in Contemporary Russian-American Art" at Boston's University Art Gallery in 2006.[8] The exhibition featured works by Vitaly Komar, Alexander Melamid, Leonid Sokov, Grisha Bruskin, Eugene Yelchin, Irina Nakhova and Vadim Zakharov. The exhibition tackled the dual imperative of Gulag history and mythology, map and territory.[9] Boym also edited the exhibition catalogue that accompanied the exhibition.[9]

Selected bibliography[edit]


  • Another Freedom: The Alternative History of an Idea (University of Chicago Press, 2010) ISBN 978-0-226-06973-9
  • Ninotchka: A Novel (SUNY Press, 2003)
  • Kosmos: Remembrances of the Future - photographs by Adam Bartos, text by Svetlana Boym (Princeton Architectural Press, 2001)
  • The Future of Nostalgia (Basic Books, 2001)
  • Common Places: Mythologies of Everyday Life in Russia (Harvard University Press, 1994)
  • Death in Quotation Marks: Cultural Myths of the Modern Poet (Harvard University Press, 1991)


  • The Off-Modern Mirror, E-flux, no. 19, October 2010.[1]
  • Scenography of Friendship, Cabinet Magazine, Issue 36: Friendship, Winter 2009/10.[2]
  • Poetics and Politics of Estrangement: Victor Shklovsky and Hannah Arendt, Poetics Today, Vol. 26, no. 4, 2005, pp. 581-611.[3]
  • Nostalgia and Its Discontents, The Hedgehog Review, Summer 2007.[4]
  • Conspiracy Theories and Literary Ethics: Umberto Eco, Danilo Kiš and the Protocols of Zion, Comparative Literature, Vol. 51, no. 2, Spring 1999, pp. 97-122.[5]
  • On Diasporic Intimacy: Ilya Kabakov's Installations and Immigrant Homes, Critical Inquiry, Vol. 24, no. 2, Winter 1998, pp. 498-524.[6]
  • Estrangement as a Lifestyle: Shklosvky and Brodsky, Poetics Today, Vol. 17, No. 14, Winter 1996, pp. 511-530.[7]
  • From the Russian Soul to Post-Communist Nostalgia, Representations, Vol. 49, Winter 1995, pp. 133-166.[8]
  • The archeology of Banality: The Soviet Home, Public Culture, Vol. 6, no. 2, 1994, pp. 263-292.[9]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^
  2. ^ Obituary,; accessed August 8, 2015.
  3. ^ Frank Wilczek. "The Future of Nostalgia". 
  4. ^ "Eurozine - Svetlana Boym". 
  5. ^ a b "In Memoriam: Professor Svetlana Boym". 
  6. ^ Profile,; accessed August 8, 2015.
  7. ^ "Svetlana Boym - Gillette Company Fellow, Class of Fall 2003". American Academy in Berlin. Retrieved March 10, 2012. 
  8. ^ Profile,; accessed August 8, 2015.
  9. ^ a b 1959-2015., Boym, Svetlana, (2006). Territories of terror : mythologies and memories of the Gulag in contemporary Russian-American art. Boston, Mass.: Boston University Art Gallery. ISBN 1881450252. OCLC 122930060. 

External links[edit]