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School of Languages, Linguistics and Film

Russian Research

Research and teaching in Russian covers a wide range of areas, both conceptually and geographically, around language, literature, theory, history and culture from Russia and the former Soviet world. The department has a longstanding expertise in Soviet cinema and writing, memory and trauma in 20th Russia, and 19th century literature and culture, with seminal studies on Chekhov, Dziga Vertov and films of the holocaust, among others. There is also a strong focus on Russophone and postcolonial studies, with the department being one of the few in the world where students can study post-Soviet literature and film from the Caucasus and Central Asia. Decolonial approaches are also increasingly permeating Russian language teaching, including translation practice and theory, another particular strength of the department.

Book cover of Defining Documentary FilmBook cover of The Galosh and Other Stories

Research areas in Russian include:

  • 19th century Russian literature (canonical; women’s writing)
  • Soviet literature (in particular Zoshchenko, non-fiction, journalistic forms)
  • Soviet cinema (especially documentary, Dziga Vertov, wartime and Russian Holocaust cinema)
  • Memory and trauma in twentieth century Russia
  • Russophone postcolonial theory, literature and culture
  • Post-Soviet literature and film from the Caucasus and Central Asia

The research staff and their areas of expertise: 

Professor Jeremy Hicks

  • Soviet film and World War Two; Soviet Film and the Holocaust; Russian Film and Humanitarianism; Russian and Soviet Documentary Film; Dziga Vertov; Reception of Soviet film in the West (1920s-40s); Mikhail Zoshchenko, Soviet literature (1920s-40s)

Professor Emeritus Donald Rayfield

  • Chekhov; 19th century Russian literature and culture, Georgian literature and history; translation

Humanitarian Film and Communist Agitation: Russian and International Films of The Volga Famine 1921- 1923

British Academy/Leverhulme Small Research Grant £10,000, July 2021-2023

Aestheticization of Life and Cosmopolitan Modernity: The Poetics of Elegance in the Long 19th Century

Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship awarded to Andreas Schönle and Dr. Anna Ananieva (2016-2018) (Euro 195,454)

Anna Hillman - Carnivals of Transition: Cuban and Russian Film (1960-2000)

Victoria Walden - Holocaust Cinema and Haptic Engagement with Memory

Katie McElvanney - Female Journalists in the Russian Revolutions and Civil Wars: Case Studies of Ariadna Tyrkova-Williams and Larisa Reisner, 1917-1926.


Veselina Dzhumbeva (Primary supervisor Galin Tihanov (Comparative Literature); Second supervisor: Tamar Koplatadze


Archie Wolfman (Primary Supervisor Libby Saxton (Film); Second supervisor: Jeremy Hicks)


Assiya Issemberdiyeva (Primary supervisor Jeremy Hicks; Second supervisor: Matthew Hilton (History))

For all enquiries, or to buy our books by cheque, please contact: or write to:

Garnett Press, School of Languages, Linguistics and Film, Queen Mary University of London, Mile End Road, London E1 4NS, UK.

If ordering by post you may pay by cheque made out to Queen Mary University of London, but sent to Donald Rayfield, Garnett Press.

You can buy our books with a few clicks and a debit or credit card (Visa, MasterCard).

Available from the Garnett Press:

Otar Chiladze A Man Was Going Down the Road (a Georgian novel based on the legend of Jason and Medea), 2012  435 pp. ISBN 978-0-9564683-0-7. £16.00

postage etc: UK:  £2.80; Europe  £6.10; rest of world  £10.50

Otar Chiladze (1933-2009) is by consensus the most important novelist of the 20th century in Georgia. His first novel ( also the first of his works to be translated into English), A Man Was Going Down the Road, is the key to his later work. It begins with the Greek legend of Jason and the golden fleece and the consequences for the obscure kingdom of Colchis after the Greek Jason comes and abducts Medea. But it is also an allegory of the treachery and destruction that ensued when Russia, and then the Soviets, annexed Georgia, as well as Chiladze's interpretation of life as a version of the ancient Anatolian story of Gilgamesh, and a study of Georgian life, domestic and political, in which women and children pay the price for the hero's quests, obsessions and doubts.

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Donald Rayfield, The Literature of Georgia - A History, 3rd, revised and expanded edition. 2010, pp 366. ISBN 978-0-9535878-8-9.  £25.00. Postage, etc: UK:  £2.50; Europe  £5; rest of world  £7.50

The first comprehensive history of the literature of Georgia, revealed to be unique among those of the former Byzantine and Russian empires, both in its quality and its 1500 years' history. First published in 1994, with a second edition in 2000, this book has been revised and expanded to take into account recent scholarship and the renaissance of the Rose Revolution.

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Nikolai Gogol, Marc Chagall, Dead Souls, a new translation by Donald Rayfield, with 96 engravings and 12 vignettes reproduced from the 1948 Tériade edition. 2008. pp 366. ISBN 978-0-9535878-7-2.  £29.99

postage etc: UK:  £6; Europe  £12; rest of world  £18

This translation aspires to be the fullest, most accurate and readable so far: Part 2 has been expanded by incorporating passages from Gogol's earliest version. Chagall's 96 illustrations are reproduced in A4 format and high resolution on 120gm matt paper: together with the vignettes, ornamented initials and table of illustrations, they show such inventiveness and sympathy with the text that henceforth it will be as impossible to separate Chagall from Gogol as, say, Tenniel, from Lewis Carroll.

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D. Rayfield, O. Makarova (ed.), Dnevnik Alekseia Sergeevicha Suvorina (Diary of Aleksei Suvorin, the 19th C. Russian magnate, in Russian). 1999, xl+666pp. ISBN 0-9535878-0-0.  £20.00

postage etc: UK:  £4; Europe  £8; rest of world  £12

The first full decipherment of one of the most important of 19th century diaries, shedding light on personal family tragedy, on Russian literature (especially Chekhov) and theatre, and on Russian politics.

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D. Rayfield, J. Hicks, O. Makarova, A. Pilkington (editors), The Garnett Book of Russian Verse. An Anthology with English Prose Translation2000. 748 pp. ISBN 0-9535878-2-7.  £25.00 ( £20.00 to registered university students or staff)

postage etc: UK:  £4; Europe  £8; rest of world  £12

This anthology of Russian verse brings together the best of some seventy-five Russian poets over three hundred years, with an English prose version at the bottom of each page. It is aimed at a wide range of interested readers of poetry, from those with a rudimentary knowledge, but strong interest in Russian, to university students of Russian poetry. It can be a bedside book for a reader of poetry, or a textbook for a postgraduate course. As well as the familiar canon, much unusual work of interest has been uncovered. Care has been taken to establish authoritative texts of the Russian originals and accurate, transparent yet readable English versions. The fullest use has been made of the research in the 1990s in Russia which has retrieved so much forgotten and repressed verse. Over five hundred poems by seventy-five Russian poets of the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries from Lomonosov to Brodsky.

Robin Milner-Gulland (TLS): Three cheers for a large new anthology'¦ boldness deserves congratulation.

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Donald Rayfield, editor in chief (with Rusudan Amirejibi, Shukia Apridonidze, Laurence Broers, Levan Chkhaidze, Ariane Chanturia, Tina Margalitadze), A Comprehensive Georgian-English Dictionary. 2006. 2 vols. pp xl + 172. ISBN 978-0-9535878-3-4.  £75.00

(a few seconds [8 replacement pages inserted in volume 2] are available at  £40.00)

postage etc: UK:  £10; Europe  £20; rest of world  £30 (outside the UK we use DHL, so please email us your telephone contact number) N.B. This dictionary weighs 3.4 kilos

With 140,000 entries, full grammatical and idiomatic information, this dictionary is an essential tool for anyone handling Georgian discourse. It encompasses the whole language from the fifth century to today, including dialect, jargon, specialist terminology.

Peter Nasmyth (TLS): superb new dictionary'¦ Johnsonian enterprise'¦ thoroughness of listings

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Peter Pišt'anek, translated by Peter Petro, Rivers of Babylon. 2007. pp 259. ISBN 978-0-9535878-4-1.  £12.99

postage etc: UK:  £2; Europe  £4; rest of world  £6

Peter Pišt'anek's reputation is assured by Rivers of Babylon and by its hero, the most mesmerizing character of Slovak literature, Rácz, an idiot of genius, a psychopathic gangster. Rácz and Rivers of Babylon tell the story of a Central Europe, where criminals, intellectuals and ex-secret policemen have infiltrated a new 'democracy'. Slovak readers acknowledge Peter Pišt'anek as their most flamboyant and fearless writer, stripping the nation of its myths and false self-esteem. The novel has been translated by Peter Petro of British Columbia University, in close collaboration with author and publisher.

William Boyd (The Guardian): an astonishing find'¦ fuelled with formidable energy and ice-cool satire. It displays a fierce black humour that is both ruthless and exhilarating.

Tibor Fischer (The Telegraph): the best fiction I've read on the 'wild west' period

Johnny le Falbe (Literary Review): fast and very funny'¦ translation is excellent

Peter Pišt'anek, translated by Peter Petro, The Wooden Village(Rivers of Babylon 2). 2008. pp 205. ISBN 978-0-9535878-5-8.  £11.99

postage etc: UK:  £2; Europe  £4; rest of world  £6

Set around the wooden snack bars in a Bratislava of thieves and pornographers, the characters of Rivers of Babylon sink to new depths and rise to new heights. A naïve American Slovak blunders into Rácz's world and nearly loses his life in this black comedy.

Peter Pišt'anek, translated by Peter Petro, The End of Freddy (Rivers of Babylon 3). 2008. pp 320. ISBN 978-0-9535878-6-5.  £13.99

postage etc: UK:  £2.50; Europe  £5; rest of world  £7.50

Pišt'anek's tour de force of 1999 turns car-park attendant and porn king Freddy Piggybank into a national hero, and the unsinkable Rácz aspires to be an oil oligarch, after Slovaks on an Arctic archipelago rise up against oppression. The novel expands from a mafia-ridden Bratislava to the Czech lands dreaming of new imperial glory, and a post-Soviet Arctic hell. Death-defying adventure and psychological drama supersede sheer black humour.

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In preparation

Avicenna (Ibn Sina) The Laws of Medicine (Al Qanun fi at Tibb), the first full translation into English

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