Slavic and Eurasian Studies

Rebecca Johnston Awarded Stephen F. Cohen-Robert C. Tucker Dissertation Research Fellowship

Tue, July 24, 2018
Rebecca Johnston Awarded Stephen F. Cohen-Robert C. Tucker Dissertation Research Fellowship
Rebecca Johnston

Congratulations to Rebecca Johnston — CREEES MA alumna and current doctoral candidate in Russian and Soviet History in UT’s Department of History — on receiving the prestigious Stephen F. Cohen-Robert C. Tucker Dissertation Research Fellowship!




The Stephen F. Cohen-Robert C. Tucker Dissertation Research Fellowship (CTDRF) is awarded annually to six doctoral students in any discipline whose dissertation topic focuses substantially on 19th- through 21st-century Russian historical studies. The award provides a stipend of up to $22,000 for dissertation travel and research in Russia.

This September, Rebecca, a fourth-year student working under the supervision of Dr. Joan Neuberger, will travel to Moscow, Siberia, and Eastern Europe to conduct research on cultural governance in the Soviet Union. She will draw upon preliminary research that she conducted in Moscow and Irkutsk over the last two years with support from CREEES and the Department of History. Rebecca’s dissertation project is focused on the Soviet Ministry of Culture in the period following Stalin’s death in 1953, a subject which has so far received very little academic attention. She is particularly interested in Soviet cultural policies in theory and practice. To this end, she will examine Soviet policymakers’ beliefs and assumptions about the role culture in the post-Stalin era as well as the result of these policies on the local level.

Rebecca developed her dissertation topic as a continuation of her CREEES Master’s thesis on the Russian punk collective Pussy Riot. According to Rebecca, Pussy Riot was denounced by Russia’s Cultural Minister as a group of “hooligans” whose work had no relationship to art. “A lot of that project dealt with today’s Ministry of Culture, and ever since then I've been fascinated by the activist role that it plays in Russian politics and society,” Rebecca said. “When I found out that its Soviet predecessor was largely unexplored, I was stunned.” She also credits Dr. Sheila Fitzpatrick’s work on cultural studies in the Soviet Union, including her influential study, The Commissariat of Enlightenment, as a “huge inspiration” for her dissertation project.

Rebecca will spend eleven months in Russia and Eastern Europe before returning to Austin in July of next year to write her dissertation. Congratulations, Rebecca, on your prestigious award, and good luck in Russia!


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