Alexis Peri is originally from the San Francisco Bay Area. She received her B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley in Late Modern European History. She specializes in Russian and Soviet History, and has strong interests in the history of modern warfare, terror and terrorism, private life, and the relationship between literature and history. She is currently conducting a research project on diaries of the Leningrad Blockade. She is the recipient of grants from the Fulbright Program, the International Research & Exchanges Board, the Mabelle McLeod Lewis Memorial Fund, Phi Beta Kappa, the Foreign Language & Area Studies Program (US Department of Education), the Office of the Chancellor (UC Berkeley).

Selected Publications:

“Revisiting the Past: History and Historical Memory during the Leningrad Blockade,” The Soviet and Post-Soviet Review, Vol. 38 (2011), 105–129.

“How Terrorists Learned to Map: Plots and Plotting in Boris Savinkov’s Recollections of a Terrorist & The Pale Horse,” Mapping the Other Petersburg (Olga Matich, Ed.) (Madison: Wisconsin University Press, 2010).

“Kraiinosti povsednevnoi zhizni: dnevniki Ol’gi Richardovna Peto (Everyday life in Extremity:  The Diaries of Ol’ga Richardovna Peto) ” (Sankt Peterburg: “Nestor” Rossiiskaia Akademiia Nauk, Institut Istoriii, 2010).

“Heroes, Cowards, & Traitors:  The Crimean War & its Challenge to Russian Autocracy,” Berkeley Program in Soviet & Post Soviet Studies' Working Paper Series, Institute of East European & Eurasian Studies, University of California, Berkeley, Summer: 2008



Courses offered in the past four years.
indicates offered in the current term
indicates offered in the upcoming term[s]

FYSE 1377 - Terror in the Soviet Union      

The Revolution Devours her Children: Violence and Terror in the Soviet Union
The Soviet Union holds the distinction of being one of the most violent regimes in history. The regime promised its citizens peace and abundance, but the main way it found to establish this worldly utopia was to purify society through violence. Long before Stalin, state-initiated terror was used to cleanse the hearts and minds of the general public. In this seminar we will examine how terror played an integral role in the revolutionary project, how the show trials, secret police, and the gulag developed. Our sources will include secret archival documents, private diaries, court testimonies, fiction, films, and historical scholarship. 3 hrs. sem.


Fall 2012

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HIST 0247 - Imperial Russia      

Imperial Russia
This course introduces students to the major themes, problems, and events of Russia’s imperial past focusing on the 300-year rule of the Romanov dynasty and extending to the dawn of the revolutionary era. Our major themes will include: the development of Russia’s absolutist state; the processes of secularization, westernization, and industrialization; the interplay between reform, rebellion, and revolution in enacting political change; the growth of Russia’s multi-ethnic, multi-confessional empire; and the role of the radical intelligentsia in Russian thought. We also will give special attention to the vexed question of Russian identity and examine how notions of Russia’s cultural heritage, mission, and position between Europe and Asia, shifted throughout the 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries.


Fall 2011, Spring 2014

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HIST 0248 - History of the Soviet Union      

History of the Soviet Union
In this course we will explore the tumultuous history of Russia's revolutions and the attempts to create a socialist utopia on earth. The course will be organized around three revolutionary moments: the political revolutions of 1905 and 1917, Stalin’s socioeconomic “revolution from above” in the 1930s, and Mikhail Gorbachev’s “accidental revolution” that led to the demise of the USSR in the 1980s. Through secret party documents, novels, diaries, films, and images, students will get a vivid look at everyday life, party dynamics, the shifting status of women, and the centrality of violence in Soviet society.


Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Fall 2013

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HIST 0314 - Children of Russian Revolution      

Born Under a Red Star: Children of Russia’s Revolution at Home, at School, and at Play
To understand a particular society, consider how it regards its children. In the USSR, children represented more than future guardians of culture and tradition, they were the lifeblood of the revolution. The state's existence depended on how well it imbued its youth with the spirit of socialism. Soviet children were politically privileged, but also constant victims of poverty and political turmoil. In this seminar we will study their experiences at school, at home, and at play. Using schoolbooks, fairytales, diaries, drawings, and the material culture of sports, toys, and fashion, we will explore childhood (Soviet and otherwise) as a historically constructed phenomenon. 3 hrs. sem.


Spring 2014

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HIST 0359 - Experience of Total War      

The Experience of Total War
In this course we will explore how the two greatest conflicts of the 20th century--the First and Second World Wars--shaped the everyday lives of ordinary men and women. We will address such themes and problems as: the motivations to fight, war's role in individual development, the sources of obedience and mutiny, the phenomena of atrocity and genocide, experiences on the home front, and the reflection of war in culture and memory. Students will think critically across genres and national boundaries and will analyze fiction, personal narrative, and poetry from a historical perspective.


Fall 2011, Spring 2013

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HIST 0410 - Readings in Soviet History      

Readings in Soviet History: The "New Man" in the Russian and Soviet Imagination
In this seminar we will examine that superman of modernity who inspired and terrified a century of Russian philosophers, artists, and revolutionaries: the New Man. We will explore the emergence and development of this ideal type between the 1840s and the 1940s. We will trace how radical socialists and religious conservatives constantly re-conceptualized him, and we will study Soviet attempts to transform its citizens into New Men and Women through Marxism-Leninism. Readings will include many of Russia's greatest philosophical and literary works of the period.


Spring 2012, Fall 2013

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HIST 0500 - Special Research Projects      

Special research projects during the junior year may be used to fulfill the research seminar requirements in some cases. Approval of department chair and project advisor is required.

Fall 2013, Spring 2014

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HIST 0700 - Senior Independent Study      

The History Senior Thesis is required of all majors. It is written over two terms, with the final grade applying to both terms. The project is generally begun in the fall and completed during winter or spring. Approval is required to begin the thesis in winter or spring, and such students must still attend the Thesis Writer's Workshops that take place in fall and winter.

Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Winter 2014, Spring 2014

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IGST 0450 / HIST 0450 - U.S./Soviet Popular Culture      

Twentieth-Century U.S. and Soviet Popular Culture
In this comparative history seminar we will examine the United States and Russia from the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917 through the Cold War. Popular culture provides rich material and suggests analytical frameworks for examining American and Soviet perceptions of each other. It also invites critical analysis of each society's "way of being": their cultural values, political priorities, assumptions, and their personal and national identities. Students will examine the ways popular culture informed social movements and international relations, paying close attention to changes and continuities across the 20th century. Of particular interest is the way that popular culture, which initially was used to drive a wedge between American and Soviet peoples, eventually became an unexpected force of rapprochement in the 1970s and 1980s. Throughout the seminar students will consider how race, class, and gender shape cultural understandings of identity. This course is equivalent to HIST 0450. 3 hrs. sem.


Spring 2013

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IGST 0701 / INTL 0701 - REES Senior Thesis      

Russian and East European Studies Senior Thesis
(Approval Required)

Fall 2012, Winter 2013, Winter 2014

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LITS 0710 - Senior Honors Essay      

Senior Honors Essay
(Approval Required)

Spring 2012

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