Polly Jones

Polly Jones

Schrecker-Barbour Tutorial Fellow in Slavonic and East European Studies; Professor of Russian

Contact information



I teach tutorials and lectures covering a wide range of modern Russian literature and Russian language at undergraduate and graduate level for the faculty and college. I teach Russian literature of the 19th and 20th centuries (covering papers VIII, XI and XI of the Final Honours School syllabus), with a specialism in post-Stalinist literature. I teach specialist options on post-Stalinist literature and Gulag literature for the BA and Master’s degrees in the faculty. I also teach translation into and out of Russian for undergraduate students. I am currently supervising doctorates on Soviet and post-Soviet commemorations of Stalinism, and the “framing” of Soviet memories in post-Soviet media. I welcome research student enquiries on any topic in Soviet-era literature and cultural studies, and comparative and interdisciplinary work on the socialist bloc and memory studies.


My research interests centre on 20th century literature and culture, especially of the post-Stalin period (1953-91). I have published widely on Soviet culture and politics, write regularly for the TLS and the Times Higher, and have appeared several times on BBC radio and TV to talk about Russian culture. I recently acted as consultant to Armando Iannucci’s film “The Death of Stalin” (2017). More broadly, my research interests include: Soviet literature and literary politics (1917-91); the Gulag and terror in literature; memory and trauma theory; Soviet and socialist bloc propaganda and censorship; samizdat and dissidence; biography in Russian culture; Russian and Soviet historical fiction. I am currently researching the writing and reading of biography in late socialism, drawing on a wide range of Soviet archives as well as oral history, and writing a monograph, under contract with OUP and provisionally entitled Revolutionary Lives. Writers, Readers and Publishers in Late Socialism, 1964-91.

Selected Publications

Monographs and edited volumes

Revolution Rekindled. The Writers and Readers of Late Soviet Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019) See: global.oup.com

Myth, Memory, Trauma. Rethinking the Stalinist Past in the Soviet Union, 1953-70 (Yale University Press, 2013 (paperback 2016) See: yalebooks.com

The Dilemmas of De-Stalinization. Negotiating Social and Political Change in the Khrushchev Era (London: Routledge, 2006; paperback edition 2009)

The Leader Cult in Communist Dictatorships. Stalin and the Eastern Bloc (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2004). Co-edited with B. Apor, J. Behrends, A. Rees.

The Relaunch of the Soviet Project, 1945-64, special issue of Slavonic and East European Review, 2: 2008. Co-edited with J. Fuerst, S. Morrissey.

Policies and Practices of Transition in Soviet Education from Revolution to the End of Stalinism, special issue of History of Education, 2006. Co-edited with A Byford.

Articles and book chapters

‘Life as big as the ocean’: Bolshevik Biography and the problem of personality from late Stalinism to Late Socialism’, Slavonic and East European Review, 2018

The Poetics and Politics of Modern Russian Biography’, Slavonic and East European Review, 2018

‘The Zones of Late Socialist Literature’, The Cambridge History of Communism, ed. J. Fuerst, S. Pons, M. Sandle (Cambridge University Press, 2017), pp. 376-98.

‘Diagnosing the Stalinist Sickness. Images of Illness in Aleksandr Bek and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’, MLR, 111. 4 (October 2016), pp. 1062-89.

The Fire Burns On? The Fiery Revolutionaries Biographical Series and the Rethinking of Propaganda in the Early Brezhnev Era’, Slavic Review, 74: 1 (2015): 32-56.

Contact Univ

If you have any questions or need more information, just ask: