Metcalf Award

Portrait of Alexis Peri.

Alexis Peri

College of Arts & Sciences

Alexis Peri is an associate professor of history and director of graduate studies at Boston University’s College of Arts & Sciences. She inspires her students to develop their powers of “historical imagination” and creative problem-solving. As she put it: “A creative mind is a resilient mind. It can solve challenges. It can build bridges. It can cultivate compassion.”

For a decade, Professor Peri has helped students understand history by immersing them in the intimate details of everyday life, especially in Russia and the Soviet Union. Through a combination of lecture, discussion, and creative projects, she brings the past to life and helps instill in students an attitude of empathy for those who came before.

Professor Peri’s colleagues and students laud her as a patient educator and passionate expert. Students frequently praise her “thought-provoking” approach to history. Using diaries, letters, literature, and even food, jokes, and fashion from the period, students explore how people lived, thought, and felt in their day-to-day lives as they experienced monumental historical moments. Students describe her as “honest, caring, and influential” and “a true teacher who puts students’ learning first.” According to her department chair, “her view of education is capacious, and it includes individual growth, intellectual independence, and the future lives of her students.”

Professor Peri’s first book, The War Within: Diaries from the Siege of Leningrad, won the Pushkin House Book Prize and the Wall Street Journal called it one of the ten best books on the Soviet home front. Her latest book is Dear Unknown Friend: The Remarkable Correspondence between American and Soviet Women. She is a Jeffrey Henderson Senior Research Fellow at the Boston University Center for the Humanities and a recipient of the Gerald and Deanne Gitner Family Undergraduate Teaching Prize in History. She earned her BA in history and psychology and her MA and PhD in history from the University of California, Berkeley.

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