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Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages and Linguistics


Dr Rebecca Reich

Dr Rebecca Reich
University Associate Professor of Russian Literature and Culture
Director of Slavonic Studies Section
Slavonic Studies
Faculty of Modern & Medieval Languages & Linguistics
Contact details: 
Telephone number: 
+44 (0)1223 337 041

Jesus College
Jesus Lane
United Kingdom


Dr Reich received her PhD in Slavic Languages and Literatures from Harvard University and her BA in Russian from Yale College. She is the Consultant Editor for Russia and East-Central Europe at the Times Literary Supplement and was previously Arts Editor and Books Editor of The Moscow Times. Her articles and reviews have appeared in The New York Times Book Review, The Washington Post, the Times Literary Supplement, Bookforum, The Forward, The New Leader, The Moscow Times, and other publications.


Teaching interests: 

Dr Reich’s teaching interests lie primarily in twentieth-century Russian and Soviet literature and culture, but she also teaches across a wider historical range stretching from the eighteenth to the twenty-first century. She has a strong teaching interest in interdisciplinary approaches, in particular the intersections of literature and social, intellectual and cultural history.


Research interests: 

As a scholar of twentieth-century Russian culture, Dr Reich explores literary engagements with scientific and medical knowledge, particularly psychiatry; the history of print culture, journalism, dissent and samizdat; and the interface of literature and law.


Recent research projects: 

Dr Reich’s first book, State of Madness: Psychiatry, Literature, and Dissent After Stalin (Northern Illinois University Press, 2018), examines the interaction of psychiatric and literary discourses from the 1950s to the 1980s. It demonstrates that longstanding tensions between literature and psychiatry came to a head in the post-Stalin period and subsequent decades as dissenters tested cultural norms and the state suppressed dissent through punitive hospitalization. Drawing on published and unpublished texts, original archival research and interviews, it casts new light on dissenting writers and exposes the intensely literary orientation of psychiatrists during this period. The American Association of Teachers of Slavic and East European Languages (AATSEEL) awarded State of Madness the prize for Best First Book and named it a finalist for the prize for Best Book in Literary Scholarship. 

Dr Reich’s current book project, supported by a Leverhulme Research Fellowship in 2019-20, is a study of journalism and judgement from the 1950s to the 1980s. It traces the emergence and evolution of experientially grounded ways of writing that laid claim to their own jurisdiction over morality and reconfigured the relationship between journalism and the law for the post-Stalin era. An article emerging from this research, “Words on Trial: Morality and Legality in Frida Vigdorova’s Journalism”, appeared in Slavic Review in 2022.

Dr Reich welcomes inquiries from potential MPhil and PhD students with research interests or approaches that are relevant to her own.


Published works: 



Forthcoming: (with Simon Franklin and Emma Widdis), ed., The Cambridge History of Russian Literature (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2024).

State of Madness: Psychiatry, Literature, and Dissent After Stalin (De Kalb: Northern Illinois University Press, 2018).


Selected Articles and Book Chapters

Forthcoming: “The Madman”, in The Cambridge History of Russian Literature, edited by Simon Franklin, Rebecca Reich and Emma Widdis (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2024).

Forthcoming (with Simon Franklin and Emma Widdis): “Introduction”, in The Cambridge History of Russian Literature, edited by Simon Franklin, Rebecca Reich and Emma Widdis (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2024).

“Words on Trial: Morality and Legality in Frida Vigdorova’s Journalism.” Slavic Review 81, no. 2 (Fall 2022): 349–69.

"Over the Cuckoo’s Nest: Russian Variations on a Psychiatric Theme”, in Psychiatry in Communist Europe, edited by Sarah Marks and Mat Savelli (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), 196–215.

“Inside the Psychiatric Word: Diagnosis and Self-Definition in the Late Soviet Period.” Slavic Review 73, no. 3 (Fall 2014): 563–84.

"Madness as Balancing Act in Joseph Brodsky’s ‘Gorbunov and Gorchakov.’” The Russian Review 72, no. 1 (Winter 2013): 45–65.