Olga Smolyak

DPhil Candidate in Russian, University of Oxford
Candidate of Sciences (kandidat nayk) in Cultural Studies, Perm State Technical University/A.M. Gorkiy Ural State University, Yekaterinburg
Specialist (similar to BA Honours) in World History, Perm State University


Clarendon Scholar, Oxford


My DPhil project focuses on the discourse analysis of Soviet domestic space and encompasses the concepts of gender, family, work and leisure in the 1960s-1980s. By absorbing a set of primary sources (sociological and demographical research, legislation, published media, films, literature, household manuals, archival documents, and interviews), I am interpreting the scholarly and media discussions about the ‘second shift’ of Soviet women and the state policy that had been implemented to solve this issue. I believe my study contributes to the understanding of the social role of women and the ‘women’s question’ in the late Soviet era.

I have presented my project at the conferences organised by British (BASEES) and American (ASEEES) Associations of Slavonic studies. Currently, my article on the semiotics of pel’meni is under revision for a peer-reviewed volume about the role of food in the construction of social identity at the University of Helsinki.

Before I moved to Oxford, I taught a wide range of courses on Cultural studies, History, and Critical Theory in Russian universities. My teaching experience allows me to fluently move between disciplines, formats (e.g. lectures, tutorials, seminars), and approaches in guiding students through the analysis of historical events and cultural phenomena. However, I am enthusiastic to expand the subjects I can lecture or tutor. In 2016-2019, in my role as Teaching Assistant at New College, I taught one-to-one Russian grammar classes and the small group seminar Russian Literature and Films aimed to improve students’ communication skills in Russian.

Publications in peer-reviewed journals:

  • Olga Smolyak, ‘“Working for Yourself”: Resource Theft at a Factory in the Late Soviet Era’, Laboratorium: Russian Review of Social Research, 2 (2014), 21-57. 
  • Olga Smolyak and Alexey Golubev,‘Making Selves through Making Things: Soviet Do-It-Yourself Culture and Practices of Late Soviet Subjectivation’, Cahiers du Monde Russe, 54/3–4 (Juillet-Décembre 2013), 517–41. 
  • Olga Smolyak, ‘Sovetskie Nesuny’ [Soviet Pilferers], Otechestvennyie zapiski, 46 (1/2012), 311–18.
  • Olga Smolyak, ‘Sdelai Sam: Neskol’ko Zamechanii o Komforte i Izobretatel’nosti Sovetskogo Cheloveka v 1960 Gody’ [DIY: A Few Thoughts About Comfort and Inventiveness of a Soviet Man in the 1960s], Ab Imperio, 4 (2011), 236–59.


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