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Ana Siljak

Associate Professor of Humanities
By appointment

Ana Siljak received her PhD in History from Harvard University and was a professor of history at Queen’s University until 2023. She received a grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada to study the philosophy and literature of the Russian Silver Age. Her edited volume entitled Religion and Secular Modernity in Russian Christianity, Judaism, and Atheism is forthcoming from Cornell University Press in 2024, as is her edition of the translation of the correspondence of Nikolai Berdiaev and Jacques Maritain, to be published by McGill-Queen’s University Press. Ana Siljak’s first book, entitled Angel of Vengeance, on Russia’s first female terrorist, was nominated for the Charles Taylor Prize for narrative non-fiction and was named one of the top 100 books of the year by the Globe and Mail. She is currently a co-author of the textbook, Visions of the West, to be published by Oxford University Press in 2025. Her recent articles include “The Personalism of Nikolai Berdiaev,” in the Oxford Handbook of Russian Religious Thought; “Nikolai Berdiaev and the Origin of Russian Messianism,” published in the Journal of Modern History; “Sigmund Freud, Sublimation, and the Russian Silver Age, published in Modern Intellectual History; and “Friedrich Nietzsche, Dmitrii Merezhkovskii, and the Russian Renaissance,” published in Canadian Slavonic Papers. She is currently writing a book on the personalist philosophy of Nikolai Berdiaev. She has contributed essays in Mere Orthodoxy and the Literary Review of Canada.

Current Project

Ana Siljak’s current project is the recovery of the personalist thought of Nikolai Berdiaev and of the Russian personalism more broadly. In 1948 Time Magazine dubbed Berdiaev “one of the great religious philosophers of his time,” but Berdiaev is now rarely studied in the history of philosophy. Funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, this project will center on the explication of his personalism, and it will also reveal the wide-ranging influence of his thought, not just in Europe, but around the world. Berdiaev’s prescient criticism of modernity, including its anti-human aspects, will be set forth in the book, The Prophet of Modernity: The Personalism of Nikolai Berdiaev. The project will also include a digital archive of heretofore undiscovered letters and papers (forthcoming November 2024), a comprehensive, interactive bibliography of Berdiaev’s works in multiple languages (forthcoming May 2024), and a publication of the volume of correspondence with the French philosopher Jacques Maritain (forthcoming March 2024).


  • Ph.D. in History, Harvard University, 1997
  • A.B. in Political Science, Stanford University, 1990

Publications - Books

Books (forthcoming):

Editor, Religion and Secular Modernity in Russian Christianity, Judaism, and Atheism. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, forthcoming November 2024.

Editor, Nikolai Berdiaev and Jacques Maritain: An Exceptional Dialogue (1925-1948), by Bernard Hubert. Translated by Christopher Jon Delogu. Montreal: McGill Queen’s University Press, forthcoming March 2024.

Visions of the West, with Eric Robinson and Heather Weidner. New York: Oxford, forthcoming 2025.

Publications - Articles

The Personalism of Nikolai Berdiaev,” In The Oxford Handbook of Russian Religious Thought, edited by George Pattison, Caryl Emerson, and Randall Poole, 309-326. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2020.

“’The Beauteous Terrorist’: Russian Women and Terrorism in Literature at the Turn of the Century,” In The Oxford Handbook of the History of Terrorism, edited by Carola Dietze and Claudia Verhoeven, 275-291. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2020.

Sigmund Freud, Sublimation, and the Russian Silver Age,” Modern Intellectual History 15, no. 2 (August 2018): 443–470.

“Friedrich Nietzsche, Dmitrii Merezhkovskii, and the Russian Renaissance,” Canadian Slavonic Papers 60, no. 1-2 (May 2018): 236-255.

Nikolai Berdiaev and the Origin of Russian Messianism,” Journal of Modern History 88, no. 4 (December 2016): 737-763.

“Controversies over Nationalism: The Teaching of Russian History, 1890-1904.” In Rossiia i SShA na stranitsakh uchebnikov: opyt vzaimnykh representatsii, edited by Victoria Zhuravleva and Ivan I. Kurilla, 106-140. Volgograd: Volgograd State University Press, 2009.

“The Trial of Vera Zasulich.” In Russian and Soviet History: From the Time of Troubles to the Collapse of the Soviet Union, edited by Steven Usitalo and William Benton Whisenhunt, 147-161. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2008.

Between East and West: Hegel and the Origins of the Russian Dilemma,” Journal of the History of Ideas 62, no. 2 (April 2001): 335-358.

“Christianity, Science, and Progress in Sergei M. Solov’ev’s History of Russia,” In Historiography of Imperial Russia: The Profession and Writing of History in a Multinational State, edited by Thomas Sanders, 215-238. Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe Press, 1999.

Non-Academic Articles

The Golden Calf,” Mere Orthodoxy, October 2, 2023.

There is no materialist path to the promised land,” Mere Orthodoxy, November 7, 2022.

Atheist Nones and the Problem of Soviet Atheism,” Mere Orthodoxy, November 5, 2021.

Purity Culture,” Mere Orthodoxy, April 13, 2021.

D.B. Hart’s Inquisitor,” Mere Orthodoxy, July 1, 2020

The New Edwardians.” The new Gilded Age and Jennifer Welsh’s The Return of History. Literary Review of Canada, October 2016.

A Strange Road to Hell.” A review of The War that Ended Peace: The Road to 1914 by Margaret MacMillan, Literary Review of Canada, January-February, 2014.

“The Enigmatic Monarch.” A review of The Winter Palace by Eva Stachniak. Literary Review of Canada, May 2012.

Adventure and Empathy.” A review of A Passion for History: Conversations with Denis Crouzet, by Natalie Zemon Davis, May 2011.

“Can Sociology Save Us?” A review of The Sense of Sociability: How People Overcome the Forces Pulling Them Apart, by Lorne Tepperman, Literary Review of Canada, September 2010.

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