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My DPhil project is the first to trace the specific cultural history of bisexuality in Russia, charting approximately three decades of bisexual sources and voices (1991-2023). Each chapter examines a different form of media to provide a holistic view of how bisexual themes, people, and characters have been (self-)represented across the period.

Specifically, in these chapters I explore: the independent lesbian and gay press in the 1990s; the ways in which bisexuals have talked about themselves, and others about them, on the Russian-language internet; bisexual themes in popular culture; and how bisexual subjectivities have been articulated in literature and poetry. Through this approach, I am not only investigating the ways in which bisexual identity has been variously mediated in Russian across the period, but also aiming to establish distinctly bisexual canons for future research.

My broader academic interests lie in sexuality and gender studies, depictions of mental health, life writing, and histories of repression and incarceration (especially those of the Gulag). My research is supported by the Open-Oxford-Cambridge AHRC DTP, the Clarendon Fund, and Wadham College’s Mr Michell Scholarship.


Alongside my DPhil research, I have taught undergraduate classes on translation from Russian to English. I also co-taught the joint BA/MSt/MPhil module on 'Gender and Representation in Russian Culture from 1800', for which students opted to write on topics as diverse as gender and queerness in Slavic folklore, contemporary feminist performance art, and non-binary gender identity in music videos. I am currently teaching a number of undergraduate tutorials about nineteenth- and twentieth-century Russian literature. 


Rowan Dowling, ‘Russian Trans* Stories: Collective Transgender Autobiography as Activism’, Avtobiografija 11 (2022): 161–86,

Rowan/Charlotte Dowling,  ‘Across the Divide: Feats of Friendship and Romance in the Gulag’. FORUM: University of Edinburgh Postgraduate Journal of Culture & The Arts, no. 28 (June 2019),

Other Activities

I am a co-convenor of the TORCH-affiliated Network Queer Intersections Oxford, an expressly interdisciplinary space for queer, trans, and feminist studies. I also run QUEERCAMP, a reading group for graduate students and early career researchers to explore LGBTQ+ voices, cultures, and histories from across Eastern Europe, Russia, the Caucasus, and Central Asia. Since I co-founded the group in 2021, we have grown to include participants at multiple U.K. universities.  In addition to running a number of film screenings, we have held discussions drag culture in Kazakhstan and Russia; LGBTQ+ Ukrainian voices during wartime; same-sex intimacy in the Gulag; queer and genderqueer fashion in Georgia, Ukraine and Russia; trans/non-binary self-expression in different languages; and much more.