Michael Brinley

Assistant Professor of History
G-22 Dickinson Hall

Michael Brinley is a historian of the Soviet Union and Modern Russia. He is broadly interested in the urban revolutions of the twentieth century and the attending social and political conflicts that gave shape to the modern world. He is currently finishing a book tentatively titled Model Cities and Mobilized Citizens: Contesting Soviet Urban Growth in the Era of Developed Socialism that tracks the evolution of Soviet city planning institutions in the postwar decades during a period of industrialized mass housing construction, a period when Soviet city planners and architects played surprisingly central roles in urban politics. His research focuses on questions of citizenship, state formation, techno-politics, and expertise in the final years of rapid urbanization and it contributes to a growing understanding of Soviet socialist world-making projects and their legacies in the 21st century.

His 2023 article in the Journal of the History of Ideas on the late career of structuralist linguist Roman Jakobson received honorable mention for the Selma V. Forkosch Prize for best article. In it he recasts Jakobson the academic and intellectual as a diplomat with standing on both sides of the Iron Curtain by analogy to his articulation of the communicative functions. Additionally, he is working on a project about late imperial Russian historiography and professionalization, illuminated through the case of the Feodor Kuz'mich legend, which posited that Tsar Alexander I had faked his death in 1825 and gone into hermitage in a remote Siberian gold mining community. Turn-of-the-century Russian historians took up the political challenges of this legend in ways that reflected their own disciplinary preoccupations and that highlight the moral dilemmas faced by those attempting to establish the authority of history for a growing audience of readers in a society racked by revolutionary upheavals.

Area of Interest
Cold War History
Intellectual History
Political History
Urban History
20th Century
Russia and Eurasia