AL by Viktor Novikov 1 2019

Angelina Lucento

Assistant Professor of History and Art History at National Research University-Higher School of Economics

When did you first develop an interest in Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies?

My interest in Russia and Eastern Europe first emerged in the early 1990s, just after the collapse of the Soviet Union. I was a serious competitive gymnast at the time, training with Bulgarian coaches. The former Soviet and Eastern European gymnasts were at the time the absolute best in the world, and as I studied their training techniques I also became interested in their cultural backgrounds and historical. In high school, I studied Russian history and vowed to travel to the country someday, although everyone warned me that I would need to speak Russian first. I attended Bryn Mawr College where all students are required to study a foreign language. The Russian department was very enthusiastic and quickly convinced me during freshman orientation to sign up for language classes. The more I studied, the more fascinated I became with Russian art and visual culture. Although I was a pre-med student, and ultimately received a degree in chemistry (with a minor in Russian), the questions I had about the evolution of twentieth century Russian art occupied most of my attention, and I ultimately decided to pursue a Ph.D. in social art history, with a focus on Russia and the former Soviet Union.

What support have you received throughout your career (from ASEEES/other societies/federal support/etc.) that has allowed you to advance your scholarship?

I wouldn’t have been able to complete any of my research projects without the support I received from ASEEES’ Davis Graduate Student Travel Grant, Fulbright Fulbright-Hays (both for in-country research), the CEU Institute for Advanced Studies, and most recently the ACLS/Getty Post-Doctoral Fellowship in the History of Art, which has provided generous funding for a one year research and writing sabbatical.

What is your current research/work project?

I am currently completing a book about the influence of painting on the development of early Soviet visual culture entitled Moving the Masses: Painting and Communication from Budapest to Bishkek, 1918-1941.

What does your ASEEES membership mean to you? How has your involvement with ASEEES helped to further your career?

ASEEES’ travel funding, the mentorship program, and the annual conferences have helped further my career by offering diverse, yet equally critical sources of support. The conferences especially have always provided invaluable opportunities to present work in both early and late stages of progress, and I think most importantly have helped me build a strong international network of colleagues.

What do you believe is the most important impact ASEEES has on the field?

In additional to the organization’s conferences and publications, I think ASEEES’ biggest impact comes from its dedication to offering financial and other forms of support to graduate students, international scholars, and scholars who come to Russian, Eastern European, and Eurasian studies from diverse backgrounds. The more diverse we are as scholars, the stronger and more nuanced our work will become.

Besides your professional work, what other interests and/or hobbies do you enjoy?

Absent a pandemic, my number one hobby is travel, whether on a road trip around the US or a train trip across Russia. My second hobby is historical home renovation/restoration. My father, the son of Italian immigrants, was a trained stonemason, and my brother and sister-in-law run a restoration business in Virginia. I thought the interest had perhaps skipped over me, until I found myself restoring my 1964 Moscow apartment to its original mid-century, Soviet minimalist design.


Black and white headshot taken by Viktor Novikov

Color photo taken by Angelina Lucento with permission: Oksana Pavlenko, sketch for the mural Long Live the 8th of March, 1930-31, National Art Museum of Ukraine, Kyiv, Ukraine