Professor Catriona H M Kelly

Catriona Kelly, M.A., D.Phil. FBA
Professor of Russian; Fellow of New College;
Lecturer at Merton College

I was born and brought up in London, and studied Russian there and at the University of Voronezh, USSR. After holding a Junior Research Fellowship and a British Academy Post-Doctoral Fellowship at Christ Church, Oxford, I was employed for three years at the University of London (SSEES) before taking up my present post in 1996. Oxford is an excellent place to work on Russian culture – there are first-rate libraries, a resident community of Russians, and a fine collection of paintings and drawings in the Ashmolean Museum. I also regularly visit Russia (Covid permitting), where I have a long-standing collaboration with the European University, St Petersburg, and I have done research and given lectures and talks in numerous other Russian cities also, including Moscow, Ekaterinburg, Vologda, and Kazan’, as well as in other parts of the former USSR where Russian is widely spoken, for instance Kyiv, Riga, and Almaty.


I work on Russian literature and on Russian cultural history, particularly Russian modernism, gender history, the history of childhood, national identity, the recent history of Leningrad/St Petersburg, and the institutional and production history of Russian and Soviet cinema. Grants from the Leverhulme Trust and the British Academy, as well as the University of Oxford and New College, 2002-2007, funded my work on Children’s World (Yale U.P. 2008) (see From 2007 to 2011, I led a large international project on Russian national identity, sponsored by a major grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (see My study of cultural memory in Leningrad/St Petersburg since 1957, supported by work in archives, interviews, and first-hand observation as well as work with printed sources, St Petersburg: Shadows of the Past, was published by Yale University Press in 2014. Soviet and Post-Soviet Identities, co-edited with Mark Bassin, came out in 2012 from Cambridge University Press. I have published extensively on the preservation of architectural heritage, and the history of cinema in the post-Stalin years, particularly under Brezhnev. My other interests include oral history (for information about the Oxford Archive of Life History, see I have also published literary translations, particularly of poetry, and have frequently written for the general literary press (particularly The Guardian and The Times Literary Supplement) and appeared on radio and TV. I have been a member of juries for literary and book prizes (the Independent Prize for Foreign Fiction, the Pushkin Russian Book Prize, and the Joseph Brodsky Prize for the translation of Russian poetry) and for the Golden Arch film prize (Moscow, 2018 and 2019). I am on the editorial board of several leading specialist journals, including Kritika, Russian Review ,Slavic Review, Slavonic and East European Review, and Antropologicheskii forum/Forum for Anthropology and Culture (St Petersburg). In 2015, I was President of the Association of Slavic„ East European, and Eurasian Studies, USA (ASEEES) – the only person so far not working at a US university to hold this position.

For a podcast about my research on childhood (the interviewer is writer and translator George Miller, a graduate of the Faculty), see A video clip appears on For other interviews about the book on Petersburg, see Alexander Kan, BBC World Service, (in Russian) and also (ABC Radio, Sydney).

Recent interviews in Russian about my work include Egor Sennikov for (, Stanislav Kuvaldin for (, and Masha Nesterenko for Gorky Media


Selected Publications

 (for a more detailed list, see

Soviet Art House: Lenfilm Studio under Brezhnev (Oxford University Press, 2021).


‘Memory and Truth: Stravinsky’s Childhood (1882-1901)’, in Graham Griffiths (ed.), Stravinsky: A Cambridge Companion (Cambridge University Press, 2021).


Стоп-кадр: Катриона Келли, «Мама вышла замуж» [Freeze Frame: Catriona Kelly on Vitaly Mel’nikov’s Mother’s Got Married ],1.10.2018

Период запоя: Кинопроизводство в Ленинграде брежневской эпохи [Period of Intoxication: Filmmaking in Brezhnev-Era Leningrad] // Новое литературное обозрение. № 152. 2018.


‘Protest and Discipline: Shostakovich and the Revolutionary Self’, in Vestnik Sankt-Peterburskogo gosudarstvennogo universiteta. Istoriya. Vol. 63 (2018), no. 4, pp. 1132-55.


‘Russian Modernism: Kandinsky, Stravinsky, Mayakovsky’ for The Cambridge History of Russian Modernism  ed. Vincent Sherry (2017).

Socialist Churches: Radical Secularization and the Preservation of the Past in Petrograd and Leningrad, 1918-1988 (Northern Illinois University Press, 2016).

St Petersburg: Shadows of the Past (Yale University Press, 2014). (Forthcoming in Russian, Bibliorossika/Academic Studies Press, 2021).

‘The New Soviet Man and Woman’, in Simon Dixon (ed.), The Oxford Companion to Russian History  <>St Petersburg: Shadows of the Past (Yale University Press, 2014).

‘Leningrad Cuisine/La cuisine leningradaise: A Contradiction in Terms?’, Forum for Anthropology and Culture, no. 9 (2013),

(ed., with Mark Bassin) Soviet and Post-Soviet Identities (Cambridge University Press, 2012).

’”Исправлять ли историю”: споры об охране памятников в Ленинграде 1960-х-1970-х гг.’, Neprikosnovennyi zapas (special number “Советская память/Память о советском”). Also co-editor of the introduction., 2 (2009), ,   Article Weblink

With Svetlana Sirotinina, ‘ “I didn’t understand, but it was funny”: Soviet state festivals through the eyes of children’, Forum for Anthropology and Culture, 5 (2008).

Children’s World: Growing Up in Russia, 1890-1991 (London and New Haven: Yale University Press, 2007)

Comrade Pavlik: The Rise and Fall of a Soviet Boy Hero Also in Russian as Товарищ Павлик: Взлет и падение советского мальчика-героя) (London, Granta Books; М.: НЛО, 2005; 2009)

Russian Literature: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2001)

Refining Russia: Advice Literature, Polite Culture, and Gender from Catherine to Yeltsin (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2001)

Editor, with Stephen Lovell, Russian Literature, Modernism and the Visual Arts (Cambridge: CUP, 2000 (reprinted 2008))

With David Shepherd, Constructing Russian Culture in the Age of Revolution (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1998)

A History of Russian Women’s Writing (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1994)

Petrushka, the Russian Carnival Puppet Theatre (Cambridge CUP, 1990 (reprinted 2009))


Research Supervision

I am happy to work across a wide range of different eras and subjects. My former graduate students at doctoral and master’s levels have covered topics such as iconoclasm in the post-Stalin era, the culture of Russian spas, the rise of literary academia in the late nineteenth century, literature teaching in the Stalinist school, the revival of local memory in North-Western Russia in the 1960s-present day, domestic space in Russian silent film, heroism in the Brezhnev years, ballet in the 1920s, writers’ rest homes in the post-Stalin years,  the Komsomol in the 1960s, and post-colonial writings in the former USSR. I am currently supervising theses on the biography of Ekaterina Furtseva, domesticity in the Brezhnev era, urban space in St Petersburg, neo-classical drama in early twentieth-century Russia, violence in contemporary Russian culture, and memories of perestroika.

Undergraduate Teaching

I give tutorials for New College, Merton, and other Oxford colleges on a variety of different authors and topics. Among regular courses that I give at Faculty level are an introduction to Russian film for the first year, a series on St Petersburg and Leningrad in Russian literature, workshops on literary translation, an introduction to poetry by Russian women, an introduction to Russian modernism, and an introduction to major works by Leo Tolstoy. I often supervise assessed work such as extended essays, bridge essays for History and Modern Languages, and projects for the Gender in Russian Culture course, which is examined by portfolio submission, and particularly enjoy this area of working with undergraduates.

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