Deirdre Ruscitti Harshman

 Deirdre Harshman

Contact Information

Dept. of History
309 Gregory Hall
810 S Wright
M/C 466
Urbana, IL 61801
View CV

Research Interests

  • Russian History
  • Urban History
  • Everyday Life
  • Modern European History
  • Working Class History
  • Utopian Studies

Research Description

Dissertation: A Space Called Home: Housing and the Construction of the Everyday in Russia

This dissertation posits that management of the everyday is a fundamental part of the modern project. Far from being a vague or nebulous concept of what life could be, the management of the everyday was linked to concrete programs, which had a tangible effect on ordinary people and the spaces they lived and existed in. Furthermore, although the management of the everyday could be (and was) deployed by states and other institutions for ideological purposes, the overall concept of managing the everyday cannot be linked to any single ideological movement. As a result, it is possible to trace strong continuities in the management of everyday life, even in cases in which there were deep social, political, cultural, and/or economic ruptures.

I examine the management of the everyday in juxtaposition to the concept of the home in late Imperial and early Soviet Russia. I propose that looking at how the home functioned during the tumultuous revolutionary period offers us a new way to understand everyday life and its continuities, even in times of great social and cultural shift. I argue that reformist and revolutionary movements in Russia placed the ‘home’ and related conceptions of belonging at the center of their campaigns to create a new everyday life, and that these campaigns over show remarkable degrees of similarity, despite belonging to radically different political traditions. My dissertation examines how these different visions treated the home as lived space, the built environment and the even unbuilt environment, and how residents reacted to, shaped, and resisted these campaigns. Contests and negotiations unfolded in domestic sites and relations such as the kitchen, the landlord-tenant relationship, and nighttimeflophouses.


  • PhD, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2018
  • MA, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2013
  • BA, University of Pittsburgh, 2011

Distinctions / Awards

  • First Place, Graduate Student Essay Contest for the Midwest Slavic Association, 2017 (for the article "Cooking Up a New Everyday," as published in Revolutionary Russia)
  • Frederick S. Rodkey Memorial Prize in Russian History, awarded by University of Illinois History Department, 2013


  • Doris G. Quinn Dissertation Completion Fellowship, 2017-2018
  • William C. Widenor Teaching Fellowship, awarded through University of Illinois History Department, 2016
  • Davis Graduate Student Travel Grant for the 2015 Association for Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies (ASEEES) Annual Conference, 2015
  • Departmental Travel Grant for Pre-Dissertation Research in Moscow, Russia, 2013
  • Dissertation Research Fellowship, for dissertation research in Moscow and Perm’, Russia, awarded through the University of Illinois History Department, 2014-2015
  • Event Grant from Illinois Program from Research in the Humanities for the Fifteenth Annual Graduate Symposium on Women’s and Gender History (primary grant writer), 2013
  • FLAS Fellow (Russian), 2011-2013


  • Modernity and the Everyday in Global Context (to be taught at the Higher School of Economics, in Moscow, Russia), Fall 2018
  • HIST 381 (Urban History), Fall 2016
  • HIST 141 (Western Civilization to 1660), Spring 2016 (Teaching Assistant)
  • HIST 140 (Western Civilization to 1660, Advanced Composition), Fall 2015 (Teaching Assistant)

Selected Publications

Journal Articles

Cooking Up a New Everyday: Communal Kitchens in the Revolutionary Era, 1890-1935 Revolutionary Russia 29 2 2016, p. 211-233. Article link.

Book Contributions

Ruscitti, Deirdre ‘We have not been vermin, nor will we ever be!’: Gender and the Dynamics of Eviction in the Early Soviet Period, 1917-1930 Konstruiruia “sovetskoe”? / Constructing the “Soviet”? ‘We have not been vermin, nor will we ever be!’: Gender and the Dynamics of Eviction in the Early Soviet Period, 1917-1930 St. Petersburg Izdatel’stvo Evropeiskogo universiteta v Sankt-Peterburge 2015.