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Dr Claire Shaw

Associate Professor in the History of Modern Russia

Co-director (with Dr Anna Ross) of the European History Research Centre.


Office: FAB 3.39 (to the left as you enter block C)

Phone: 024 76150550, internal extension 50550


Office Hours: Tuesdays 11-12, Thursdays 10-11 


I am a historian of Russia and the Soviet Union, with a particular interest in the formation of Soviet identity and the history of disability and marginality.

My first book, Deaf in the USSR, examines the deaf community in Soviet Russia from 1917 to 1991, focusing on the impact of deafness on Soviet programmes of identity, and examining how Soviet deaf people developed their sense of individual and collective selfhood. In the book, I ask what it meant to be deaf in a culture that was founded on a radically utopian, socialist view of human perfectibility. Engaging with a wide range of sources from both deaf and hearing perspectives—archival sources, films and literature, personal memoirs, and journalism—I consider how fundamental contradictions inherent in the Soviet revolutionary project were negotiated by a vibrant and independent community of deaf people who engaged in complex ways with Soviet ideology. It was named one of Australian Book Review's Books of the Year 2017, and won the BASEES Women's Forum Book Prize in 2019. You can hear more about the book in my conversation with Sean Guillory for Sean's Russia Blog. 

I published a short textbook, Stalin (All You Need to Know), in 2018. I have also worked on contemporary Russian fashion and Soviet public space, topics which I hope to return to in the future.

I am currently working on a book on Soviet attempts to cultivate an ideal human body from the revolution to the collapse of socialism.

Academic Profile

2019 to present: Associate Professor in the History of Modern Russia, University of Warwick

2017-2019: Assistant Professor in the History of Modern Russia, University of Warwick

2011-2017: Lecturer in Russian, University of Bristol

2009-2011: Junior Research Fellow, Institute of Historical Research in London


HI153 Making of the Modern World (undergraduate first-year core module)

HI289 History of Russia since 1881 (undergraduate second-year option module)

HI2E1 Historiography I and HI2E2 Historiography II (undergraduate second-year core modules)

HI3J7 Socialist Bodies: Dreams and Realities of the Physical in Soviet Russia (undergraduate final-year Advanced Option module)

Postgraduate Supervision

Current and past doctoral students include:

Shamaila Anjum, 'Disability in Late Imperial Rural Russia'. ESRC-funded.

Caroline Ridler, ‘Viktor Tsoi, Leningrad rock poetry and the cultural politics of glasnost’. M4C-funded.

Samir Hamdoud, 'The Royal Albert: Childhood Idiocy and the Institutionalisation of Children’s Care in Victorian and Edwardian Britain' [Wellcome Trust-funded].

Beckie Rutherford, ‘Disabled women organising: rethinking agency within British liberation movements, 1976-1998'. Warwick University-funded. Successfully completed September 2023.

Diego Repenning, 'Understanding Siberia as a Colony: Bureaucracy and Civil Society in the Era of the Great Reforms'. Successfully completed January 2021.

James Taylor, 'The Cultural Doctors: Music, Health and Identity in Revolutionary Russia'. Successfully completed December 2017.

I would be happy to supervise dissertations and research projects in any related fields.

Selected Publications

Anna Toropova and Claire Shaw, eds., Technologies of Mind and Body in the Soviet Union and the Eastern BlocLink opens in a new window. Bloomsbury Academic, 2023.

'Take Care of Your Hearing! Fighting Deafness in the Stalinist 1930sLink opens in a new window', Zeithistorische Forschungen/Studies in Contemporary History, 2/2022.

'"Just Like It Is at Home!" Soviet Deafness and Socialist Internationalism during the Cold War', in: Kateřina Kolářová and Martina Winkler (eds.), Re/imaginations of Disability in State Socialism: Visions, Promises, Frustrations. Campus Verlag, Frankfurt/New York, 2021, p. 27-62.

‘Soviet Memoir Literature: Personal Narratives of a Historical Epoch’, in Reading Russian Sources: A Student’s Guide to Text and Visual Sources from Russian History, ed. George Gilbert. Routledge: London, 2020.

Deaf in the USSR: Marginality, Community, and Soviet Identity, 1917-1991. Cornell University Press, 2017.

‘Deafness and the Politics of Hearing’. in: Tricia Starks, Matthew Romaniello (eds) Russian History through the Senses: From 1700 to the Present. Bloomsbury Academic, London, 2016 pp. 193-218.

‘“We Have No Need to Lock Ourselves Away”: Space, Marginality, and the Negotiation of Deaf Identity in Late Soviet Moscow’. Slavic Review, vol 74., pp. 57-78.

‘'Speaking in the Language of Art': Soviet Deaf Theatre and the Politics of Identity during Khrushchev's Thaw’. The Slavonic & East European Review, vol 91., pp. 759-786.

‘'Fashion Attack': The Style of Pussy Riot’. Digital Icons., pp. 115-128.

‘A Fairground for 'Building the New Man': Gorky Park as a Site of Soviet Acculturation’. Urban History, vol 38., pp. 324 - 344.