Nancy Kollmann

William H. Bonsall Professor of History

At Stanford Since

M.A., Ph.D., Harvard University, 1974, 1980; B.A., Middlebury College, 1972

Research Interests

I am broadly interested in how politics worked in early modern Russian autocracy, that is, from the rise of Moscow from the fourteenth century through the eighteenth. Theoretically I am interested in how early modern states, particularly empires, tried to create, at best, social cohesion and, at least, stability, by ritual, ideology, law and the measured use of violence. My work has focused on the structures of power at the Kremlin court and the influence of kinship and marriage in politics, on social values from Muscovy to the Enlightenment, and on legal culture. Through the prisms of criminal law and disputes over honor, I have explored the essential legality of Muscovy’s autocratic system, showing how people used the law, how judges and other officials played roles in the system, how the law was written and interpreted. I have explored continuities and transformations in these various realms over the "Petrine revolution" in the eighteenth-century Russia. My current work turns to the visual – icons, frescos, miniatures, woodcuts, illustrated early printed books  -- as a medium for political communication and an avenue into exploring cultural change.

Courses Taught

Lecture Courses

  • Early Modern Russia, 1400-1800
  • Aristocracies and Absolutism: Early Modern Eastern Europe, 1400-1800

Undergraduate Colloquia

  • "Men, Women and Power in Early Modern Russia"
  • "Women, Marriage and Family in Early Modern West and Eastern Europe"
  • “Honor, Law and Modernity in Early Modern Europe and Russia.”
  • "Freshman Seminar: Peter the Great: Man and Myth"
  • "Early Russian Culture: Belief and Practice – Sophomore College"
  • "Europe confronts the East European Other – Freshman Seminar"

Graduate Courses

  • Research seminar in early modern Russia and colloquia on Russian historiography with particular attention to the premodern era.
  • Various specialized topics such as governance, identity and national consciousness, and social values (with primary focus on 16-18th centuries).


  • “Pictures at an Execution: Johann Georg Korb’s ‘Execution of the Strel’tsy’,” Dubitando: Studies in History and Culture in Honor of Donald Ostrowski. Brian Boeck, Russell E. Martin and Daniel Rowland, eds. (Bloomington, IN: Slavica Publishers, 2012), 399-407.
  • Crime and Punishment in Early Modern Russia, 1500-1725. Cambridge University Press, 2012.      Winner: Frances Richardson Keller-Sierra Prize, Western Association for Women Historians 2013. Honorable Mention: 2013 Heldt Prize, Best Book in Slavic/Eastern European/Eurasian Studies from Association of Women in Slavic Studies
  • "The Seclusion of Elite Muscovite Women," Russian History 10, pt. 2 (1983): 170-87.
  • "Ritual and Social Drama at the Muscovite Court," Slavic Review 45, no. 3 (Fall 1986): 486-502.
  • "Consensus Politics: The Dynastic Crisis of the 1490s Reconsidered," Russian Review 45, no. 3 (1986): 235-67.
  • Kinship and Politics: The Making of the Muscovite Political System, 1345-1547, Stanford University Press, l987. 324 pp.
  • "Was There Honor in Kiev Rus'?" Jahrbucher für Geschichte Osteuropas 36, no. 4 (October 1988): 481-92.
  • "Collateral Succession in Kievan Rus'," Harvard Ukrainian Studies, 14, no. 3/4 (1990): 377-87.
  • The New Cambridge Medieval History: vol. 6, "The Rus' Principalities in the Fourteenth Century"; vol. 7, "Russia in the Fifteenth Century."
  • "Problema chesti zhenshchin v Moskovskoi Rusi [The Problem of Women's Honor in Muscovite Russia]," Sotsial'naia istoriia. 1998/99 (Moscow, 1999), 205-16.
  • "Women's Honor in Early Modern Russia," in Russia's Women: Accommodation, Resistance, Transformation, ed. Barbara Evans Clements, Barbara Alpern Engel and Christine D. Worobec (Berkeley, 1991), pp. 60-73.
  • By Honor Bound: State and Society in Early Modern Russia (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1999). 296 pp.Russian translation: Soedinnenye chest’iu, trans. A. B. Kamenskii (Moscow, 2002). 461 pp
  • "Concepts of Society and Social Identity in Early Modern Russia" in Baron and Kollmann, eds., Religion and Culture in Early Modern Russia and Ukraine(1997)
  • "Muscovite Russia, 1450-1598," Russia: A History, ed. Gregory Freeze (New York, 1997), pp. 27-54.
  • "Pilgrimage, Procession and Symbolic Space in Sixteenth-Century Russian Politics" in Medieval Russian Culture, Vol. II (Berkeley, 1994), pp. 163-81.
  • By Honor Bound. State and Society in Early Modern Russia (Cornell University Press, 1999).
  • "Murder in the Hoover Archive," The Rhetoric of the Medieval Slavic World. Essays presented to Edward L. Keenan, Harvard Ukrainian Studies 19 (1995): 324-34.
  • "Convergence, Expansion, and Experimentation: Current Trends in Muscovite History-Writing," Kritika 2, no. 2 (2001): 233-40. Updated and anthologized in After the Fall. Essays in Russian and Soviet Historiography (Bloomington, IN, 2004), 9-22.
  • "The Extremes of Patriarchy: Spousal Abuse and Murder in Early Modern Russia," Russian History 25 nos. 1-2 (1998): 133-40
  • "'What's Love Got to Do With It?': Changing Models of Masculinity in Muscovite and Petrine Russia in Barbara Evans Clements, Rebecca Friedman and Dan Healey, eds., Russian Masculinities in History and Culture (London, 2002 ), pp. 15-32.
  • "Russian Law in a Eurasian Setting: The Arzamas Region, Late Seventeenth - Early Eighteenth Century," in Gyula Szvak, ed., The Place of Russia in Europe (Budapest, 2001),200-6.
  • "Lynchings and Legality in Early Modern Russia," Forschungen zur osteuropäïschen Geschichte 56 (2002): 1801-6
  • “Romancing the Sources,” in Adventures in Historical Research: Reminiscences of American scholars from the Cold War to the Present (Armonk, N.Y.: M.E. Sharpe, 2003), pp. 153-64.
  • “Gender and the Problem of Muscovite Particularities,” in Gyula Szvak, ed., Muscovy: The Peculiarities of its Development (Budapest, 2003), pp. 34-41.
  • “Judicial Autonomy in the Criminal Law: Beloozero and Arzamas,”in Die Geschichte Russlands im 16. Und 17. Jahrhundert aus der Perspektive seiner Regionen, ed. Andreas Kappeler [Forschungen zur osteuropäïschen Geschichte] (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2004), 252-68.
  • “Self, Society and Gender in Early Modern Russia and Eastern Europe,” Teresa A. Meade and Merry E. Wiesner-Hanks, eds, A Companion to Gender History (London: Blackwell, 2004), 358-70.
  • "Society and Identity," Modernizing Muscovy: Reform and Social Change in Seventeenth-Century Muscovy, ed. Jarmo Kotilaine and Marshall Poe (London and New York: Routledge, 2004),417-31.
  • Associate Editor, Europe. 1450 to 1789. Encyclopedia of the Early Modern World, ed. Jonathan Dewald (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2004).
  • “Law and Society in Seventeenth-Century Russia,” in Maureen Perrie, ed. Cambridge History of Russia (Cambridge, 2006), 559-78.
  • “The Quality of Mercy in Early Modern Legal Practice” Kritika 7, 1 (2006): 5-22. 
  • “The Cap of Monomakh,” Picturing Russia: Visual Documents Reader, ed. Valerie Kivelson and Joan Neuberger (Yale University Press, 2007).
  • "Change and Continuity in the Law under Peter I,” in Eighteenth-Century Russia: Society, Culture, Economy. Papers from the VII International Conference of the Study Group on Eighteenth-Century Russia, Wittenberg 2004, eds. Roger Bartlett and Gabriela Lehmann-Carli (Münster: LIT-Verlag, 2007), pp. 383-91.
  • “27 October 1698: Peter Punishes the Strel’tsy,” in Days from the Reigns of Eighteenth-Century Russian Rulers. Newsletter of the Study Group on Eighteenth-Century Russia (Cambridge, 2007), I: 23-36. 
  • "Thoughts on Beauty and Violence: Images of the Crucifixion in Russian Iconography,” in Anfologion (Moscow: Indrik, 2008), pp. 362-69.
  • “Torture in Early Modern Russia,” in V. Kivelson, K. Petrone, N. S. Kollmann and Michael Flier, eds., The New Muscovite Cultural History (Bloomington, Ind.: Slavica, 2009), pp. 159-70.
  • “Marking the Body in Early Modern Judicial Punishment,” Harvard Ukrainian Studies 28, no. 1-4 (2006; publ. 2009): 557-65.
  • “The Concept of Political Culture in Russian History,” A Companion to Russian History, ed. Abbott T. Gleason (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009), pp. 89-104.
  • “Pictures at an Execution: Johann Georg Korb’s ‘Execution of the Strel’tsy’,” (Columbus, Ohio: Slavica, forthcoming). 
  • Crime and Punishment in Early Modern Russia, Cambridge University Press, forthcoming Autumn 2012Work in Progress:  Book: “The Russian Empire, 1450-1801” -- Oxford University Press (200,000 words) Article: “The Litsevoi Svod as Graphic Novel: Narrativity in Iconographic Style.”

Edited Collections

  • Major Problems in Early Modern Russian History (New York: Garland Publishing, 1992). Collection of ca. 15 seminal essays with brief introduction.
  • With Samuel H. Baron, Religion and Culture in Early Modern Russia and Ukraine (DeKalb, Ill.: Northern Illinois Univ. Press, 1997)
  • With Andrei Pliguzov, Donald Ostrowski and Daniel Rowland, eds., Rhetoric of the Medieval Slavic World. Essays presented to Edward L. Keenan on his Sixtieth Birthday, Harvard Ukrainian Studies 19, 1997
  • Editor with Harvey Goldblatt, "Language and History in the Many Rus' Cultures: Essays in Honor of Michael Flier,"Harvard Ukrainian Studies 28 (forthcoming)


  • 2011-12 Fellow, Center for the Advanced Study of the Behavioral Sciences, Stanford
  • 2007-8: Faculty Research, Stanford Humanities Center
  • 2007 Kahn-Van Slyke Award for Graduate Mentoring, Dept. of History
  • 2003-4: Stanford Institute for International Studies Faculty Research Fellow
  • 2003-4: National Endowment for Humanities Faculty Research Fellowship
  • 2003-4: American Philosophical Society Sabbatical Fellowship
  • June 2002: Walter J. Gores Award for Excellence in Teaching for 2002
  • 1998-99: Internal Faculty Fellowship, Stanford Humanities Center
  • 1994-95: John Simon Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship
  • 1976-77, 1986, 1995: International Research and Exchanges Board fellowships for research travel to Russia
  • 1976-77, 1986, 1998 (deferred): Fulbright-Hays Faculty Research Abroad fellowship
  • 1993: National Endowment for Humanities Summer Stipend
  • 1986: National Endowment for the Humanities Independent Study and Research Fellowship
  • 1984-85: Dean's Award for Distinguished Teaching, Stanford University

University Service

  • Director of Graduate Studies, Dept. of History, 2006-7
  • Director of Graduate Teaching, Dept. of History, 2006-13
  • University Prize Committee (Gores, Dinkelspiel, Cuthbertson), Registrar’s Office, 2002-3, 2009-11
  • Academic Standing Review Board, VPUE, 2009-13
  • Thinking Matters Governance Board, VPUE, 2013-

Professional Service

  • Executive Committee, National Council for East European and Eurasian Research (NCEEER) 2006-12
  • Member at Large, Board of Directors, American Assoc. for the Advancement of Slavic Studies, 1995 - 1997
  • Chair, Visiting Committee for Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute, 1993, 1998, 2002