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Michael G. Smith

Michael G. Smith

Professor // History

Professor // Cornerstone

Office and Contact

Room: UNIV 027

Office hours:

  • Spring 2021
  • MWF 11:30-12:30 pm
  • By appointment
  • or by email


Phone: (765) 496-2420

Fax: (765) 496-1755


Transformative Texts: Critical Thinking and Communication I & II (SCLA 101 and 102); History of Russia to 1861 (HIST 238), History of Russia from 1861 (HIST 239); History of Aviation (HIST 384); History of the Space Age (HIST 387).


Purdue undergraduate students in the Department of History’s “aerospace” archival-research seminars (HIST 395) have published their papers in both local and national forums over the last several years.  See, for example:

Matt Meyer, “Happy Landings: The Aviation Career of Purdue’s Ralph Johnson,” Journal of Purdue Undergraduate Research 5/9 (Fall of 2015): 64-71.

Amanda Wegener,  “Art from the Inside: NASA Mission Insignia and Patches,” Quest: The History of Spaceflight Quarterly 23, no. 4 (2016): 3-17. 

Michael Brannigan, “America’s First Cosmonauts: Reflections on the Human Cost of Shuttle-Mir,”   Astropolitics The International Journal of Space Politics & Policy 15, no. 1 (2017) : 27-50. 

The seven student articles in Flight Paths: Purdue University’s Aerospace Pioneers , at  (2018), an online pop-up magazine created by the Purdue Archives and Department of History.

The three engineering and science students (Sam Conklin, Alex Crick, and Jaehyeok Kim), in Think, the magazine of the College of Liberal Arts (fall of 2019).  See their full articles in “Man + Machine: Research from Purdue's Neil A. Armstrong Papers,” at: 2019-fall_smaller.pdf ( 



Michael Smith teaches Russian History and Aerospace History, and is finishing a monograph on the history of Maurice Zucrow’s Jet Propulsion Center at Purdue University (between 1946 and 1969). He received his Ph.D. from Georgetown University in 1991. Here are his publications:


Rockets and Revolution: A Cultural History of Early  Spaceflight (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2014).

Language and Power in the Creation of the USSR, 1917-1953 (Berlin and New York: Mouton de Gruyter Publishers, 1998).


“An Empire of Substitutions: The Language Factor in the Russian Revolution,” Harvard Ukrainian Studies 35/1-4 (2017-2018): 125-144.

“Power and Violence in the Russian Revolution: The March Events and Baku Commune of 1918,”  Russian History 41, nos. 1-2 (2014): 197-210.

"Cosmic Plots in Early Soviet Culture: Flights of Fancy to the Moon and Mars,”  Canadian-American Slavic Studies 47, no. 2 (2013): 170-199.

“Stalin’s Martyrs: The Tragic Romance of the Russian Revolution,”  Totalitarian Movements and Political Religions 4, no. 1 (2003): 95-126.

“The Russian Revolution as a National Revolution: Tragic Deaths and Rituals of Remembrance in Muslim Azerbaijan, 1905-1920,”  Jahrbücher fur Geschichte Ost Europas 49, no. 3 (2001): 363-388.

“Anatomy of a Rumour: Murder Scandal, the Musavat Party and Narratives of the Russian Revolution in Baku, 1917-20,”  Journal of Contemporary History 36, no. 2 (2001): 211-240.

“Cinema for the ‘Soviet East’: National Fact and Revolutionary Fiction in Early Azerbaijani Film,”  Slavic Review 56, no. 4 (Winter 1997): 645-678.

“Gramsci in the Mirror of Italian Fascism: Mussolini, Gentile, and Spirito,”  Italian Quarterly 31 (Winter-Spring 1990): 57-80.

“Marx, Technocracy and the Corporatist Ethos,”  Studies in Soviet Thought 36 (1988): 233-250.


“An Empire of Substitutions: The Language Factor in the Russian Revolution,” in  The Battle for Ukrainian: A Comparative Perspective, ed. Michael S. Flier and Andrea Graziosi (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2017), 143-166. Reprint.

“The Hegemony of Content: Russian as a Language of State Assimilation in the USSR,” in  Kampf um Wort und Schrift: Russifizierung in Osteuropa im 19.-20. Jahrhundert, ed. Zaur Gasimov (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck, 2012): 193-208.

“The Tenacity of Form: Language, Nation, Stalin,” in  Politics and the Theory of Language in the USSR, 1917-1938, ed. Craig Brandist and Katya Chown (London: Anthem Press, 2010): 105-122.

“Pamiat’ ob utratakh i Azerbaidzhanskoe obshchestvo / Traumatic Loss and Azerbaijani National Memory,” in  Azerbaidzhan i Rossiia: obshchestva i gosudarstva / Azerbaijan and Russia: Society and State, ed. Dmitrii Furman (Moscow: Andrei Sakharov Institute, 2001): 88-117.

“The Eurasian Imperative in Early Soviet Language Planning: Russian Linguists at the Service of the Nationalities,” in  Beyond Sovietology: Essays in History and Politics, ed. Susan G. Solomon (Armonk, New York: M. E. Sharpe, 1993): 159-91.

“Ethnicity and Culture,” in  The Soviet Union, ed. Daniel C. Diller (Washington, D. C.: Congressional Quarterly, 1990): 129-149.


“The Aerial Game: How Football and Aviation Grew Up Together,”  Air and Space Smithsonian  Magazine (2 February 2018).

“Stalinism and the Genesis of Cosmonautics,” in Russian Science Fiction Literature and Cinema: A Critical Reader, ed. Anindita Banerjee (Boston: Academic Studies Press, 2018): pages 201-213.

“A Race to the Stratosphere in 1933: Long before the Cold War, Soviets and Americans Dueled to Reach the Top of the Atmosphere,” excerpt in Air and Space Smithsonian Magazine (24 August 2015).

Editor with Isaiah Gruber and Sandra Pujals, Russia beyond the Traditional Boundaries: Essays in Honor of David M. Goldfrank, in Russian History 41, nos. 1-2 (2014): double issue with sixteen articles.

“The People’s Commissariat for Nationality Affairs,” in The Supplement to the Modern Encyclopedia of Russia, Soviet, and Eurasian History, #16, ed. Bruce Adams (Gulf Breeze, Florida: Academic International Press, 2005): 183-187.

“Internet Approaches to Global History: Building Community and Creativity through Distance Learning,” Annual Conference of the American Historical Association, Chicago, Illinois (January 2000).

Editor with A.I. Zevelev et al.,  Istoriia natsional’nykh politicheskikh partii rossii / A History of the National Political Parties of Russia (Moscow: Russian Political Encyclopedia, 1997).

“The Archeology of Empire in Baku,” Surviving Together: A Quarterly on Grassroots Cooperation in Eurasia 14, no. 4 (Winter 1996): 47-49.

“Tongue Ties: a Brief Historical Survey of Language Politics in the USSR” and “Finding the Right Words: the Status of the Native Language in Azerbaijan,” Surviving Together: A Quarterly on Grassroots Cooperation in Eurasia 13, no. 1 (Spring 1995): 57-60.

“Kultura Revolucio en Sovetunio: Lingvaj Reformoj kaj Esperanto, 1917-1937,”  Sociaj Aspektoj de la Esperanto-movado, ed. Senad Colic, trans. Ralph Dumain (Sarajevo: Elbih, 1988): 53-58.

“For Rationalization of Language: the Bolshevik Experience with Esperanto,” in  The Idea of a Universal Language, ed. Humphrey Tonkin and Karen Johnson-Weiner (New York: Center for Research of World Language Problems, 1986): 69-76.