Jared Warren

PhD Student in History, New York University

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

I remember examining atlases as a child, overwhelmed by the number of countries in Eastern Europe, most of which were still unfamiliar to me, and lamenting that I’d never remember them all. In high school, the region became more tangible as a vibrant historical place during the Orange Revolution in Ukraine. But I was most interested in France, so I eventually studied history and French literature as an undergrad. It was really until I was researching nineteenth-century France that I intellectually discovered Eastern Europe: I was (naively) surprised to find so many Slavic-speakers and exiles in Paris, and wanted to learn more. More or less ever since, I’ve been thinking about the cultural and intellectual inter-relationships of Russia, and eastern and western Europe. While studying and traveling in France, I was intrigued by regional dialects and languages—Catalan, Provençal, Alsatian—in the south and east of France; this linguistic diversity pushed me to think about the formation of modern nation states. These historical issues could be fruitfully explored in Eastern European space, it seemed. Around the same time, I discovered contemporary Polish poetry whose historical consciousness intrigued me; since I had a vague awareness of the existence of Poland from distant family who’d emigrated from Galicia in the late nineteenth century, my interests were drawn to Poland in particular.

How have your interests changed since then?

I’ve become more interested in the role of the state and institutional structures in the history of ideas, more interested the political and religious histories of East European space before the advent of modern nationalisms, as well as increasingly in early modern Eastern Europe which receives much less scholarly attention than the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. I’ve also become much more aware of—and interested in—the Ottoman Empire as a cultural and political player in East European history.

What research project are you pursuing with the Dissertation Grant?

Thanks to Dissertation Grant, I’m able to research transnational Polish romantic intellectual and religious networks in nineteenth-century Warsaw, Paris, and Rome. Much of our scholarly attention on romanticism in Eastern Europe has quite understandably paid attention to the generation’s legacy on national ideologies. However, the romantics were interested in a lot more than the nation. There was something else going on; for one, the romantics thought that the political fates of Europeans were tied together in ways beyond the nation, and I’ve wanted to understand what those aspirations toward universalism meant (and what it didn’t!). My dissertation is an attempt to make sense of that “something else” by taking a group of Polish writers—a few canonical figures and some more obscure writers—who studied in the Congress Kingdom of Poland, and then embarked on various careers as writers, politicians, diplomats, academics, and translators all across Europe and Eurasia. When we situate these Polish romantics within the networks and institutions where they lived and worked, when we understand them as participants in wider European cultural currents (rather than exceptions to it), we begin to see how much romanticism in general was driven by religious questions and engagements in ways not specific at all to Poland. Polish ideas appealed immensely to other romantics, as many Europeans were grappling with their religious heritage after the French Revolution. In other words, ideas of Poland as the “Christ of Nations” was certainly a local response by Polish writers to their own political questions, but the religious terms of this engagement were not, I don’t think, so unusual in its historical context.

What do you value about your ASEEES membership?

I look forward to the national convention every year. There’s no better place to learn about new scholarship, to expand my own horizons by attending talks outside my own field, and it’s always wonderful to catch up with friends and colleagues and make new ones. And of course: grants and fellowships!

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

I’m an amateur pianist and an avid chef. I enjoy hiking when possible, and am slowly learning the art of making a perfect cup of tea.