Susan gained her degree in Modern Languages (Russian and German) and completed an MA and PhD in History of Art at the University of Pennsylvania. She has taught History of Art at Sheffield Hallam University and at Northumbria University. In 2001, Susan joined the Department of Russian and Slavonic Studies at the University of Sheffield where she became the Professor of Russian Visual Culture. In 2015, Susan became the Professor of Cultural History at Loughborough University.
Susan’s research focuses on the visual and cultural history of Soviet Russia, and she has published widely on material culture, art, gender, consumption and the everyday life in the USSR. The main themes of Susan’s research involve mid-century Soviet modernity in art and design; gender issues in the context of the Cold War; relations between the state authorities; art and design specialists, on one hand, and lay consumers or audiences on the other.
Susan is currently working on an oral history project on everyday aesthetics, socialist modernity, consumption and identity in Krushchev-era housing, provisionally entitled Krushchev Modern: Making Oneself at Home in the Soviet 1960s. The aim of the research is explore how the economic modernisation, the formation of a Soviet consumer society and the increased international contact in the context of the Cold War following Stalin’s death were experienced by ‘ordinary’, Soviet people.
- Soviet Russia
- Soviet consumerism
- Cold War art and design
- Russian and German
- Pleasures in Socialism: Leisure and Luxury in the Eastern Bloc, edited with David Crowley (Northwestern University Press, 2010)
- Foreword, in Simo Mikkonen and Pekka Suutari (eds), Music, Art and Diplomacy: East-West Cultural Interactions and the Cold War (Farnham: Ashgate, 2015)
- “Khrushchev in Wonderland: The Pioneer Palace in Moscow’s Lenin Hills, 1962,” in Andreas Müller and Susanne Pietsch (eds), Walls that Teach (Amsterdam: Japsam, 2014), 127-56. This volume was awarded the Dam Architectural Book Award, 2015.
- “Communist Comfort: Socialist Modernism and the Making of Cosy Homes in the Khrushchev Era,” in K. H. Adler and Carrie Hamilton (eds), Homes and Homecomings: Gendered Histories of Domesticity and Return (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010), 11-44
- “Cold War Binaries and the Culture of Consumption in the Late Soviet Home,” Journal of Historical Research in Marketing 8, issue 1(February 2016).
- “Everyday Aesthetics in the Khrushchev-Era Standard Apartment,” Etnofoor 24, no. 2 (2013): 79-106