I earned my Masters in Soviet Area Studies and Ph.D. in History from Harvard University. Since that time I have taught at the University of Oklahoma, where I am a Brian and Sandra O'Brien Presidential Professor, past coordinator of Russian and East European Studies, and affiliate faculty in Women's and Gender StudiesTrained in Russian history and modern European intellectual history, I have focused my research on the political and cultural history of early 20th century Russia, with particular interest in World War One and the revolution. Above all, I have been attracted to questions of national identity and issues of rights and belonging within given communities. My first book, Paul Miliukov and the Quest for a Liberal Russia, 1890-1918 (Cornell University Press, 1996), was a biography of an influential historian, theoretician, and political leader who was one of Russia's most important public figures in a tumultuous period of war and revolution.The book I will be completing at the Wilson Center is "A Hard Country to Love:" Patriotism and National Identity in Russia's Great War. It addresses an issue that many contemporaries later concluded was a major factor in Russia's defeat: namely, the allegedly underdeveloped sense of nationhood, and correspondingly of patriotism, in the multi-national empire. I explore various efforts to define the Russian nation and to promote patriotism and national cohesion through such issues as censorship and propaganda, rewarding and commemorating soldiers, public self-mobilization for the war effort, and the search for internal enemies and scapegoats. I also chart the altered landscape of national-patriotic discourse and behavior after the February 1917 revolution, as profound upheaval helped reconfigure notions of what it meant to be "Russian."Other publications related to questions of patriotism and national identity include my essay in the American Historical Review, "My Death for the Motherland is Happiness: Women, Patriotism, and Soldiering in Russia's Great War" (awarded the Heldt Prize for Best Article in 2004) and "What is a Fatherland? Changing Notions of Duties, Rights, and Belonging in Russia," in the volume I co-edited with Mark Bassin and Christopher Ely, Space, Place and Power in Modern Russia. (Northern Illinois University Press, 2010) The upcoming anniversary of the outbreak of World War I inspires another ongoing project, Russia's Great War and Revolution: The Centennial Reappraisal. This is a 7 volume international, collaborative project which explores the period 1914-1922 as one "continuum of crisis." It draws on the expertise of some 250 contributors from Russia, Europe, and North America; I am a co-editor of the books on Russian culture in war and revolution.My love of history also embraces teaching it. I offer an array of courses on Russian and Soviet history, as well as courses on World War I, the history of capitalism and socialism, and "Nations and Nationalism." I've particularly enjoyed teaching a graduate course on WWI to active duty service personnel at U.S. and NATO military bases in the Netherlands, Italy, and Germany, which has provided the opportunity to work with exceptional, highly-motivated students and do some great sight-seeing.On a more personal note, I enjoy good food, reading (especially memoirs and mysteries), exploring new cities, and the company of both people and dogs. Living in D.C. and joining the community of scholars at the Wilson Center will be a welcome chance to do all of those things.


B.A. (1979) History, University of Tulsa; M.A. (1981) Soviet Area Studies, Harvard University; Ph.D. (1989) History, Harvard University


  • Brian and Sandra O'Brien Presidential Professor, University of Oklahoma, 2006 to present
  • Associate Professor of History, University of Oklahoma, 1996 to present
  • Assistant Professor of History, University of Oklahoma, 1989-1996
  • Instructor in History and Literature, Harvard University, 1988-1989


Russian history, World War I, nationalism and national identity

Project Summary

This study explores the ways in which the Russian government, Russian Orthodox Church, and various groups within the empire defined and promoted patriotism and national identity over the course of the Great War. It suggests that the ordeal of total war helped forge a more modern and inclusive national identity, one based on notions of the shared service and sacrifice of a mobilized citizenry, as well as religion and ethnicity.

Major Publications

  • Mark Bassin, Christopher Ely, and Melissa K. Stockdale, eds., Space, Place and Power in Modern Russia. Essays in the New Spatial History (Northern Illinois University Press, 2010).
  • Melissa K. Stockdale, "'My Death for the Motherland is Happiness.' Women, Patriotism, and Soldiering in Russia's Great War, 1914-1918," American Historical Review, 109 (February 2004): 78-116.
  • Melissa Kirschke Stockdale, Paul Miliukov and the Quest for a Liberal Russia, 1880-1918 (Cornell University Press, 1996).