Mikhail Naumovich Epstein (Russian: Михаи́л Нау́мович Эпште́йн; born 1950) is an Anglo-American and Russian literary theorist and critical thinker. Mikhail Epstein is S. C. Dobbs Professor of Cultural Theory and Russian Literature at Emory University, USA, and Professor of Russian and Cultural Theory at Durham University, UK. He moved from the USSR (Moscow) to the USA (Atlanta) in 1990 and from the USA to England (Durham) in 2012. He is founder and director of Centre for Humanities Innovation at Durham University.

His areas of specialization include postmodernism, cultural theory, Russian literature and intellectual history, contemporary philosophical and religious thought, ideas and electronic media, and interdisciplinary approaches in the humanities. Professor Epstein is also an expert on Russian philosophers of the 19th and 20th century as well as Soviet era philosophers like Nikolai Berdyaev.[1]


Epstein was born in Moscow of Jewish heritage. He was the founder and director of the Laboratory of Contemporary Culture in Moscow.

He moved to the USA in 1990 and was fellow of Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars (Washington D.C.) in 1990–1991. He joined Emory faculty in 1990. In 1992–1994 he received grant from National Council for Soviet and East European Research to work on the history of Russian thought of the late Soviet period. He has authored inteLnet and a number of other interdisciplinary web sites in the humanities.

His latest project is "On the Future of the Humanities: Paradigmatic Shifts and Emerging Concepts" on which he worked as an inaugural senior fellow at the Center for Humanistic Inquiry (Emory University, 2002–03).

Mikhail Epstein has won national and international prizes, including Andrei Bely prize (St. Petersburg, 1991); The Social Innovations Award 1995 from the Institute for Social Inventions (London) for his electronic Bank of New Ideas; the International Essay Contest set up by Lettre International and Weimar – Cultural City of Europe 1999; and Liberty Prize, awarded for his outstanding contribution in the development of Russian-American cultural connections (New York, 2000).

Epstein maintains blog "Snob", where, in particular, since 2007 he reports "СЛОВО ГОДА" - a Russian-language "Word of the Year".[2]


In the realm of aesthetics, Epstein (together with poet and conceptual artist Dmitry Prigov) is credited with introducing the concept of "new sincerity" (novaia iskrennost) as a response to the dominant sense of absurdity in late Soviet and post-Soviet culture.[3] In Epstein's words, "Postconceptualism, or the New Sincerity, is an experiment in resuscitating "fallen," dead languages with a renewed pathos of love, sentimentality and enthusiasm."[4]



  • Epstein, Mikhail (1990). Tagebuch für Olga. Chronik einer Vaterschaft. Aus dem Russischen von Otto Markus. München: Roitman Verlag. 
  • The Transformative Humanities: A Manifesto. New York–London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2012, 318 pp.
  • PreDictionary. Berkeley: Atelos, 2011, 155 pp. (paperback). ISBN 1-891190-34-2
  • Cries in the New Wilderness: From the Files of the Moscow Institute of Atheism. Trans. and intr. by Eve Adler. Philadelphia: Paul Dry Books, 2002, 236 pp. (hardcover and paperback). ISBN 0-9679675-4-6
  • Transcultural Experiments: Russian and American Models of Creative Communication (with Ellen Berry). New York: St. Martin's Press (Scholarly and Reference Division), 1999, 340 pp. (of 23 chapters in this book, 16 are written by this author). ISBN 0-312-21808-7
  • Russian Postmodernism: New Perspectives on Post-Soviet Culture (with Alexander Genis and Slobodanka Vladiv-Glover, in the series Studies in Slavic Literature, Culture, and Society, vol. 3). New York, Oxford: Berghahn Books, 1999, 528 pp. (of 24 chapters in this book, 16 are written by this author). Hardcover and paperback editions. ISBN 1-57181-028-5
  • After the Future: The Paradoxes of Postmodernism and Contemporary Russian Culture, Amherst: The University of Massachusetts Press, 1995, 392 pp. Hardcover and paperback editions. Electronic edition, Boulder, Colo.: NetLibrary, Inc., 2000. ISBN 0-585-15509-7
  • Relativistic Patterns in Totalitarian Thinking: An Inquiry into the Language of Soviet Ideology. Kennan Institute for Advanced Russian Studies, Occasional Paper, #243. Washington: Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, 1991,94 pp.
  • Filosofiia vozmozhnogo. Modal'nosti v myshlenii i kul'ture (The Philosophy of the Possible: Modalities in Thinking and Cultrure). S-Petersburg: Aleteia, 2001, 336 pp.
  • Postmodern v Rossii: literatura i teoriia (The Postmodern in Russia: Literature and Theory). Moscow: LIA Elinina, 2000, 370 pp.
  • Bog detalei. Narodnaia dusha i chastnaia zhizn' v Rossii na iskhode imperii (A Deity of Details: The Public Soul and Private Life at the Twilight of the Russian Empire). New York: Slovo/Word, 1997, 248 pp.; 2nd, revised and expanded edition, Moscow: LIA Elinina, 1998, 240 pp.
  • Na granitsakh kul'Tur. Rossiiskoe – amerikanskoe – sovetskoe (On the Borders of Cultures: Russian – American – Soviet). New York, Slovo/Word, 1995, 343 pp.
  • Vera i obraz. Religioznoe bessoznatel'noe v russkoi kul'ture XX veka (Faith and Image: The Religious Unconscious in Twentieth Century Russian Culture), Tenafly (New Jersey): Hermitage Publishers, 1994, 270 pp.
  • Novoe sektantstvo: tipy religiozno-filosofskikh umonastroenii v Rossii, 1970-80-e gody (New Sectarianism: The Varieties of Religious-Philosophical Consciousness in Russia, the 1970s–1980s). Holyoke (Massachusetts): New England Publishing Co., 1993, 179 pp.; 2nd edition, reprint, Moscow: Labirint, 1994, 181 pp.
  • Velikaia Sov'. Filosofsko-mifologicheskii ocherk (Great Sov'. A Philosophical-Mythological Essay). New York: Word/Slovo, 1994, 175 pp.
  • Ottsovstvo (Fatherhood. An Essay), Tenafly (New Jersey): Hermitage Publishers, 1992, 160 pp. ISBN 1-55779-045-0. Ottsovstvo (Fatherhood. A Metaphysical Journal), 2nd ed. S-Petersburg: Aleteia, 2003, 246 pp.
  • 'Priroda, mir, tainik vselennoi...' Sistema peizazhnykh obrazov v russkoi poezii ('Nature, the World, the Mystery of the Universe...': The System of Landscape Images in Russian Poetry). Moscow: Vysshaia Shkola, 1990, 304 pp.
  • Paradoksy novizny. O literaturnom razvitii XIX-XX vekov (The Paradoxes of Innovation: On the Development of Literature in the 19th and 20th Centuries). Moscow: Sovetskii Pisatel', 1988, 4l6 pp.


  • Epstein, Mikhail (Mar–Apr 2013). "The art of world-making". Philosophy Now. 95: 22–24. 


  1. ^ Russian Philosophy On The Intelnet
  3. ^ Alexei Yurchak, "Post-Post-Communist Sincerity: Pioneers, Cosmonauts, and Other Soviet Heroes Born Today," in Thomas Lahusen and Peter H. Solomon, eds., What Is Soviet Now?: Identities, Legacies, Memories (LIT Verlag Berlin-Hamburg-Münster, 2008), ISBN 978-3-8258-0640-8, p.258-59, excerpt available at Google Books.
  4. ^ Mikhail Epstein, "A Catalogue of New Poetries," in Mikhail Epstein, Aleksandr Genis, Slobodanka Vladiv-Glover, eds., Russian Postmodernism: New Perspectives on Post-Soviet Culture (Berghahn Books, 1999), ISBN 978-1-57181-098-4, p. 146, excerpt available at Google Books.

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