The Department of Russian at Bristol ranks as one of the UK’s leading centres for research in Russian Studies. Founded in 1963, the Department’s research initially focused primarily on Russian literature. Nowadays, the Department’s traditional strength in literature is complemented with research on areas such as film, media, cultural and intellectual history, religious culture, and gender studies.
Our research covers language, culture, and society in Russia and the Russophone world from the eighteenth century to the present. Our staff have a diverse range of interest and expertise, but are united by a commitment to innovative, interdisciplinary research at the cutting edge of Russian Studies.
Our academic staff have particular expertise in the following fields:
- Russian literature from the 18th century to the present
- Russian intellectual history from the 18th century to the 20th century
- Russian film and visual culture
- Soviet history
- Historical sociolinguistics
- British-Soviet relations
- Literary and cultural theory
- Issues of cultural identity (semiotics of space, perceptions of time and of modernity)
- Urban studies
- Russian Orthodox theology and culture
- Gender in Russian literature and culture
- Translation studies
- Media studies
- A History of Russian Time, led by Prof Andreas Schönle, which explores the co-existence of plural temporalities in Russia, as seen in a broad cross-cultural context. This project investigates how calendars, informal temporal practices, and historical meta-narratives shape identities from the eighteenth century to the present.
- Dr Claire Knight’s project on popular Soviet cinema, Stalin’s Final Films is nearing completion. Her monograph explores what these oft-neglected works can tell us about the Soviet regime and the legacy of war in Stalin’s final years (1945-53).
- Dr Ruth Coates' new project The Reception of Orthodox Culture, Theology, and Spirituality in the United Kingdom analyses Anglican-Orthodox intellectual exchange in the 20th and 21st centuries and investigates its impact on spiritual practice in the UK.
- Queer Life-Writing in Russian, a research project to investigate how LGBT+ people in Russia and the Russophone world narrate their experiences and life stories in prose, led by Dr Connor Doak. A symposium on this topic and a special issue of the journal AvtobiografiЯ is planned for 2022.
- The History of the French Language in Russia, a multidisciplinary AHRC-funded research project led by Prof Derek Offord. The final overarching monograph arising out of the project was published by Amsterdam University Press in 2018 and won the 2019 Marc Raeff Prize and (jointly) the 2019 R. Gapper Prize.
- Transnational Russian Studies, a research project to extend the map of Russian Studies beyond Russia, led by academics from the universities of Bristol, Durham and Manchester. This resulted in an edited volume, Transnational Russian Studies, co-edited by Andy Byford (Durham), Connor Doak (Bristol) and Stephen Hutchings (Manchester) (Liverpool University Press, 2020).
- Bristol UK-Russia Research Symposium, a conference in January 2018 funded by the British Academy that brought together emerging and experienced researchers in Russian Studies in the UK and in Russia. The conference was co-organized by Dr Connor Doak with Dr Claire Shaw (Warwick) and Dr Margarita Vaysman (St Andrews).
Research staff in Russian studies have been involved in the following initiatives at Bristol:
- The Bristol Poetry Institute. In 2017 the Institute supported the half-day festival Poetry in Revolution.
- The Gender Research Centre and Gender Interdisciplinary Group, which promote research into gender issues across the University.
- The Romantic and Victorian Studies Research Group, an interdisciplinary research group focusing on culture, history, and politics in the nineteenth century.
- The Screen Research Group, an interdisciplinary group of academics across the University working on film, television, and digital media.
Collaborations and activities
Our staff present regularly at academic conferences and frequently give invited talks and workshops. We are actively involved in collaborations with other universities and scholarly organizations. For example:
- Dr Connor Doak is currently representative for Slavonic and East European Languages in the University Council of Modern Languages, the UK’s main organization that supports research and teaching in languages in higher education.
- Dr Connor Doak is co-organizer (with Dr Muireann Maguire, Exeter, and Dr Margarita Vaysman, St Andrews) of the BASEES Nineteenth-Century Study Group.
- Dr Claire Knight is a member of the Russian Cinema Research Group at University College London.
- Dr Claire Knight is Archives By-Fellow at Churchill College, Cambridge during her research leave in 2021, as she pursues archival research in their collections.
- Professor Andreas Schönle is a Fellow of the British Academy and is active on fellowship selection committees.
- Professor Andreas Schönle is an assessor for the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021.
Beyond academia, we work regularly with partners in the cultural sector, the media, and publishing.
We have recently worked with the BBC, Kino Klassika Foundation, the Oxford Character Project, and Pushkin House. We have partnered with cultural organizations in Bristol and the southwest, including Bristol’s Watershed Cinema and the Exeter Phoenix.
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Research in the faculty
Our research forms part of the overall research activities and strategies of the Faculty of Arts.