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Dr Claire Shaw




Office Hours:

Rm 3.39, third floor of the Faculty of Arts Building

024 76150550, internal extension 50550

I will be available to meet with students on Tuesdays 10-11 (online) and Thursdays 10-11 (in person).

Sign up for a slot here.


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


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 recent 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 also published a short textbook, Stalin (All You Need to Know), in 2018.

I am currently embarking on a new research project, which focuses on Soviet prosthetic technologies and the disabled body in Soviet Russia in the 1960s. This project will explore the history of Soviet attempts to ‘cure’ the disabled self through research and technological innovation, placing those attempts in a broader context of Soviet interest in creating technologically augmented, ‘cyborg’ selves as a step towards the construction of the communist utopia. I have also worked on contemporary Russian fashion and Soviet public space, topics which I hope to return to in the future.

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:

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, ‘Apart or A Part’? Understanding the Agency and Erasure of Disabled Women Within the Women’s Liberation Movement in Britain [Warwick University-funded].

Gemma Shannahan, 'Paving a Way for Deaf Heritage' [funded by an AHRC/Historic England Collaborative Doctoral Award].

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

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

'"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.

‘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.