Author Archives: Andrew Jenks

Gagarin as Christ

Adding to the previous thread of comments about Gagarin and religion, perhaps the most striking amendment to the Gagarin legend since the collapse of the Soviet Union has been his re-imagination as a devout Russian Orthodox Christian. I often heard … Continue reading

Posted in Post-Soviet Russia, Russian Orthodoxy, Soviet and Russian Space Flight | 4 Comments

A Priest Contemplates Gagarin’s Feat

Here is a painting entitled “Meditation,” which was done in 1964 by Pyotr Mikhailov. It is from the old Leningrad Museum of the History of Religion and Atheism of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR.  In it a priest … Continue reading

Posted in Cold War, Russian and Soviet Art, Soviet and Russian Space Flight, Soviet Era 1917-1991 | 10 Comments

Article about my Gagarin book

Just a brief post on an article from my university about my forthcoming Gagarin book. My reference in the interview to the International Astronomical Society should be the International Aeronautical Federation.

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Transnational History and Space Flight

Having finally finished my biography of Yuri Gagarin (The Cosmonaut Who Couldn’t Stop Smiling: The Life and Legend of Yuri Gagarin, due out in March with Northern Illinois University Press) I’m trying to figure out my next project. This blog … Continue reading

Posted in Cold War, Russia in World History, Soviet and Russian Space Flight, Soviet Era 1917-1991 | 13 Comments

Aftermath!

Just a quick update to my last post on “Ivan the Terrible and the American adolescent.” The show in which I appeared (http://www.spike.com/full-episodes/59fkzw/deadliest-warrior-ivan-the-terrible-vs-hern-n-cort-s-season-3-ep-307) declared Hernan Cortes the victor over Ivan the Terrible. Ivan’s weapons were superior but psychological factors, once … Continue reading

Posted in Films, Russian History in Popular Culture, Teaching Russian History | 1 Comment

Ivan the Terrible and the American adolescent

I got involved in the TV show described below to see first hand the process whereby expertise gets turned into entertainment. The show is called Deadliest Warrior. It’s on Spike TV and seems to be for the 12-18 year-old male … Continue reading

Posted in Films, Russian History in Popular Culture | 2 Comments

The Russian Concept?

I’ve just seen an engaging 2010 documentary entitled the “Russian Concept” (for a trailer see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0-l66s2Fglk). Based on interviews with artists, art collectors and esteemed art historians, the documentary provides a short and entertaining survey of art little known to … Continue reading

Posted in Films, Post-Soviet Russia, Russian and Soviet Art, Soviet Era 1917-1991 | 4 Comments

The Woman with the Five Elephants

This blog is about an excellent 2010 documentary by Vadim Jendreyko entitled “The Woman with the Five Elephants.” (For a trailer see: http://www.traileraddict.com/trailer/woman-with-5-elephants/trailer) The five elephants referred to in the title are classic novels of Fyodor Dostoevsky. Svetlana Geier, the … Continue reading

Posted in Films, Russian Literature, World War II | 3 Comments

On Monkies and Lost Colonies

Having just finished my last classes for my modern Russia survey, I wanted to share some thoughts on a documentary that I used to discuss Post-Soviet Russia. The 2008 documentary is entitled The Lost Colony. For a clip, see: http://hotdocsaudience.bside.com/2008/films/thelostcolony_hotdocs2008. … Continue reading

Posted in Cold War, Films, Nostalgia and Memory, Post-Soviet Russia, Soviet Science | 6 Comments

A Provincial Talisman

The heartland of the Russian nation, as seen through the Gagarin cult, was not in Moscow but in Gagarin’s hometown of Gzhatsk. Renamed “Gagarin” after the cosmonaut’s death in 1968, the town is a typical Russian provincial backwater. In the … Continue reading

Posted in Nostalgia and Memory, Post-Soviet Russia, Soviet and Russian Space Flight | 5 Comments

Important New Gagarin Book in Russian

There is a new biography of Gagarin out in Russian. I’m trying to get a hold of it (by Lev Danilkin, a prominent literary critic in Russia, titled Iurii Gagarin). I’ve read excerpts posted on line at the Molodaya Gvardiya … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

The Flight that Launched a Thousand Rumors

As I noted in my first post (“Creating Cover Stories: A National Pastime”), an intense feeling of vulnerability and insecurity had compelled the Soviets, along with Russia’s authoritarian traditions, to surround Yuri Gagarin’s flight in secrecy. But they paid for … Continue reading

Posted in Cold War, Soviet and Russian Space Flight, Soviet Era 1917-1991 | 3 Comments

Some Notes from My Gagarin File

When I began my study of Yuri Gagarin many years ago, my biggest challenge, as any historian who has worked in Russian archives can appreciate, was getting access to sources. Gagarin was and remains not just a Soviet icon — … Continue reading

Posted in Cold War, Post-Soviet Russia, Soviet and Russian Space Flight, Soviet Era 1917-1991 | 10 Comments

NPR Causes a Gagarin Kerfuffle

A recent controversy surrounding the biography of Yuri Gagarin, and involving NPR, highlights the gaping divide separating academic history writing and the public presentation of history. Last week Robert Krulwich, who writes on science for NPR, posted a blog based … Continue reading

Posted in Cold War, Soviet and Russian Space Flight, Soviet Era 1917-1991, Soviet Science | 5 Comments

The Russian Icarus: How Gagarin Became Cosmonaut #1

Colleagues at cocktail parties and in the lounges of hotels after conferences have often asked me why Yuri Gagarin was chosen to be the first cosmonaut on April 12, 1961. This blog, excerpted from a draft of my book on … Continue reading

Posted in Cold War, Soviet and Russian Space Flight, Soviet Era 1917-1991 | Leave a comment

Creating Cover Stories: A National Pastime

This coming April 12 marks the 50th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin’s historic flight into space. In honor of that jubilee, and also because I’m finishing a biography on the world’s first cosmonaut, I’ll be blogging on and off about various … Continue reading

Posted in Cold War, Soviet Era 1917-1991 | 2 Comments