Svetlana Boym, a Harvard professor who examined nostalgia and vanished worlds, died in Boston

Svetlana Boym was best-known for her work studying myth, memory, and identity. Handout

After being told that emigrating to the United States meant she wouldn’t be able to return her home in Russia, Svetlana Boym arrived in the U.S. in 1981. She made a life for herself in Boston as a scholar and an artist, exploring the worlds of myth, memory, and identity.

Dr. Boym died from cancer at age 56 in Boston on August 5, the New York Times reports.

She earned degrees from Boston University and Harvard University, and went on to teach slavic languages and literatures and comparative literature at Harvard. Dr. Boym was a writer, photographer, and playwright, but was perhaps best known for her book, “The Future of Nostalgia.’’


Dr. Boym examined two kinds of nostalgia in her book, one being “reflective nostalgia,’’ which she wrote focuses on “longing and loss, the imperfect process of remembrance.’’ Dr. Boym understood this type well due to her experience as an immigrant from the former Soviet Union.

Read Dr. Boym’s full obituary at the Times.

Notable deaths of 2015:

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