Spieker received a B.A. (with distinction) from the School of Slavonic and East European Studies at the University of London (1987) and a Ph.D. from Oxford University (Merton College). After extended stays in Moscow and Los Angeles, he accepted an appointment as assistant professor at Indiana University, Bloomington (1991). In 1995 Spieker took up a position at the Department of Germanic and Slavic Studies and the Comparative Literature Program at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
As an affiliate faculty member in the departments of Art and History of Art and Architecture, he teaches courses in 19th and 20th-century Russian and East-Central European literature and art. In 2004 he was a visiting professor at Constance University, Germany; and in 2015, at Freie Universität, Berlin.
His honors and awards have included fellowships at the Stanford Humanities Center (Stanford University); the Society for the Humanities at Cornell University; the Literaturzentrum in Berlin; and Monash University (Melbourne). Spieker has been a referee for the Stanford Humanities Center, the MIT Press, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. He is the founding editor of ARTMargins Print, a journal devoted to contemporary art practice in the global margins, and a member of the editorial collective that runs ARTMargins Online.
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