Karen Petrone's primary research interests are cultural history, gender history, propaganda, representations of war, and the history of subjectivity and everyday life, especially in Russia and the Soviet Union.
Her new book The Great War in Russian Memory (Indiana University Press, 2011) challenges the notion that World War I was a forgotten war in the Soviet Union. She argues that although the war was not officially commemorated by the Soviet state, it was the subject of lively discouse about religion, heroism, violence and patriotism during the interwar period. The book then traces how this discourse disappeared due to the growing militarization of the Soviet state in the 1930s. This work broadens Petrone's expertise on the culture of the Soviet interwar period, a subject she first explored in her book on Stalinist celebrations in the 1930s, Life Has Become More Joyous, Comrades: Celebrations in the Time of Stalin (Indiana University Press, 2000).
Both in the project on World War I memory and in a series of other on-going projects, Petrone explores issues of gender. She has co-edited a volume of essays in comparative history with Jie-Hyun Lim of Hanyang University in Seoul, South Korea, entitled Gender Politics in Mass Dictatorship: Global Perspectives (Palgrave, 2011). She is co-writing an article (with Choi Chatterjee) on the development of gender history in post-Soviet Russia. In her next project on the Soviet domestic perceptions of the Soviet Afghan war (1979-1989), she hopes to explore the role of gender in Soviet justifications of and the population’s resistance to the Soviet war in Afghanistan.
Karen Petrone is also currently working (with Kenneth Slepyan) on a textbook project for Oxford University Press, using primary documents to narrate Soviet history from 1939-2000. She is co-editing a book on Everyday Life in Russia (with Choi Chatterjee, Mollie Cavender, and David Ransel) as well.
- Life Has Become More Joyous, Comrades: Celebrations in the Time of Stalin, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2000.
- The Great War in Russian Memory, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2011.
- Guest Editor, Russian Studies in History, Volume 42, No. 2: Soviet Mass Culture, Fall 2003.
- Guest Editor with Choi Chatterjee, Left History, Volume Six, Number Two: Essays from the conference "Inventing the Soviet Union: Language, Power and Representation, 1917-1945." York, Ontario: Fall 1999.
Scholarly Articles and Review Essays:
- With Choi Chatterjee, "Models of Selfhood and Subjectivity: The Soviet Case in Historical Perspective, Slavic Review, 2008.
- “‘All Quiet’ on the Don and the Western Front: Mikhail Sholokhov and Erich Maria Remarque Respond to World War I,” in The Human Tradition in Modern Europe, edited by Cora Granata and Cheryl Koos, Rowman and Littlefield, 2007.
- “Motherland Calling: National Symbols and the Mobilization for War,” in Picturing Russia: Explorations in Visual Culture, edited by Valerie Kivelson and Joan Neuberger, Yale University Press, March 2008.
- “Soviet Women’s Voices in the Stalin Era,” Review Essay, Journal of Women’s History, Summer 2004.
- “Imperial and Soviet Masculine Heroes and Patriotic Cultures,” in Russian Masculinities, edited by Barbara Evans Clements, Rebecca Friedman, and Dan Healey, Palgrave, 2002.
- "Gender and Heroes: The Exploits of Soviet Pilots and Arctic Explorers in the 1930s" in Women and Political Change: Perspectives from East-Central Europe, edited by Sue Bridger, St. Martin’s Press, 1998, pp. 7-26.
- "Family, Masculinity, and Heroism in Russian Posters of the First World War" in Borderlines: Genders and Identities in War and Peace, 1880-1930, edited by Billie Melman, Routledge, 1998, pp. 95-119.