Professor Friedman's research focuses on the history and culture of modern Russia. Her 2006 book on the history of masculinity in Russia—Masculinity, Autocracy and the Russian University, 1804-1863—examines behavior, loyalty and sociability among a generation of Russian university students that would reshape the Russian social and political landscape for decades to come. She is particularly interested in exploring the models of manhood these young men encountered and created during their three to four years of study, including the respectable servitor, drunken comrade, honorable fraternity member, romantic friend and loyal son. This project offers a picture of the complex processes through which gender ideologies were forged and negotiated in the nineteenth century. She also edited (with Barbara Clements and Dan Healy) the collection Russian Masculinities in History and Culture, which is the first volume in English to focus on the growing field of Russian masculinity studies. She has also written about Russian childhood and the gendering of the Cadet Corps.
Friedman is currently working on a larger project tentatively entitled Time at Home. This book project—supported by a National Endowment for the Humanities Faculty Research Grant—reveals how domestic space embodies modern concepts of time. In particular, Time at Home highlights how, in a period of tremendous upheaval from about 1890-1930, Russians embraced notions of the home that reflected new ideas about the flow of historical time.
Professor Friedman's teaching interests include: Imperial Russian and Soviet gender, cultural, social history; European identities; European women's history; the history of gender and sexuality; history of childhood; material culture and the home; nationalism in East Central Europe; family history; war and revolution; memoir and memory in modern Europe; and history of the home; notions of modernity.