Jonathan Bolton's research crosses back and forth between literary studies and history. His book Worlds of Dissent combines approaches from both disciplines to offer a new approach to the dissident movements in East Central Europe under Communism. He teaches graduate and undergraduate courses on Czech literature, history, and culture, as well as comparative European literatures more generally.
He is particularly interested in the relationships between literature and political power: the mechanics of political crackdown and repression; dissent, protest, and dissident movements; and the complex negotiations between repressive regimes and the writers they are trying to control. He also studies conceptions and ideologies of Central European identity; language and narrative form in first-person writing; and literary theory and theory of literary history. He translates Czech prose and poetry, and has edited and translated a book of poems by Ivan Wernisch, In the Puppet Gardens: Selected Poems, 1963-2005.