• KY16 9AL

    United Kingdom

  • KY16 9PH

    United Kingdom

Accepting Postgraduate Research Students

PhD projects

I would be happy to supervise research postgraduate students in any area of nineteenth-century Russian literary and cultural studies, as well as students in comparative literature (particularly in Russian, French and English).

Personal profile

Research overview

I work on Russophone literature and culture from the nineteenth century onwards, and have a particular interest in narrative theory. My two principal research areas are crime fiction and the fantastic.

Russian Crime Fiction: My monograph The Poetics of Early Russian Crime Fiction, 1860-1917: Deciphering Tales of Detection was published by Legenda in 2018. It is the first book-length study in any language of the formative years of a genre that now enjoys almost unrivalled popularity in post-Soviet Russia. It discusses works by little-known authors such as Nikolai Sokolovskii, Petr Stepanov, Nikolai Timofeev, Semyon Panov, Aleksandr Shkliarevskii and Andrei Zarin as well as offering new readings of Dostoevskii and Chekhov. You can read more about the book in this blog interview with the North American Dostoevsky Societyhttps://bloggerskaramazov.com.

Most recently, I have co-authored an article with Grace Docherty on 'Bodies of Evidence: The Depiction of Violence Against Female Characters in Late Imperial Russian Crime Fiction', just published by Modern Languages Open

My current research turns its attention to female crime writers from the same era. My article on Aleksandra Sokolova (1833-1916) was published by Slavonic and East European Review in 2021 (here) and I have given various papers on her and Kapitolina Nazar'eva (1847-1900) and Liudmila Simonova (1838-1906). These and other female authors and their crime writing will be the subject of my next monograph.

Lost Detectives: Arising out of my work on Russian crime fiction, I am now leading a Knowledge Exchange and Impact project, kindly funded by the University of St Andrews, entitled 'Lost Detectives: Adapting Old Texts for New Media', on which I am collaborating with the author-illustrator, Carol Adlam. Carol's graphic novel adaptation of an 1876 work by Semyon Panov has recently been published as The Russian Detective by Jonathan Cape. Rachel Cooke in the Guardian calls it 'an exquisitely illustrated celebration of early crime fiction' (see here). Carol and I have recently co-authored an article on our collaborative experience on this project here: 'Intermedial Adaptations of Nineteenth-Century Russian Crime Fiction' published by Adaptation.

The Fantastic: My first book (arising out of my PhD) was The Fantastic in France and Russia in the Nineteenth Century: In Pursuit of Hesitation (Legenda, 2006). It provides a comparative analysis of the various narrative techniques that provoke hesitation in the mind of the reader about the interpretation of possibly supernatural events. I am also the editor of the 2012 volume Critical Insights: The Fantastic (Salem Books) which brings together various essays on the subject.

I would welcome postgraduate inquiries from students interested in pursuing projects in any area of the long nineteenth-century in Russophone literature and culture, as well as in crime fiction, the fantastic and comparative literature.


I am an experienced and enthusiastic teacher who believes passionately in the role that the teaching of modern foreign languages and literatures has to play in opening up our understanding of other cultures, as well as of our own. 

In the Russian Department, I frequently coordinate and teach on our Beginners' Language modules (RU1001 and RU1002), as well as teaching literature, grammar and translation on various other modules from first- to final-year. My research-related teaching focusses on three Honours modules: RU3022 The Nineteenth-Century Russophone Novel; RU4142 The Fantastic in Nineteenth-Century Russophone Literature; and RU4144 Russian Crime Fiction, as well as our core postgraduate modules: RU5011 and RU5013 New Approaches to the Russophone Literary Canon. More broadly in the School, I contribute to various Comparative Literature modules, including CO2002 Journeys (Dostoevskii's Winter Notes on Summer Impressions), as well as CO4028 Great Works and their Adaptations. 

Research interests

My research interests remain broadly comparative with a focus on the relationship between Russian and French literatures in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. My current research work focusses on early Russian crime fiction, its socio-historical context, but most particularly its exploitation of poetic devices to create effect. I am also in the early stages of a project devoted to the work of the little-known nineteenth-century author, Aleksandra Sokolova (aka Blue Domino). 

I am collaborating on a Knowledge Exchange and Impact project, 'Lost Detectives: Adapting Old Texts for New Media', with the author-illustrator, Carol Adlam, and we are currently developing a podcast series as well as a range of adaptations of 'lost' nineteenth-century works of Russian crime fiction.

I retain a strong interest in critical theory, particularly in narrative poetics.

Future research

I am planning a peer-reviewed article on the crime fiction of Aleksandra Sokolova, particularly issues of the depiction of violence and of gender roles, for submission later in 2020.

I am in the early stages of developing a larger project devoted to the work of Sokolova across the genres of crime fiction, historical fiction and the society novel. 

Carol Adlam and I will continue to develop our 'Lost Detectives' Knowledge Exchange project over the course of 2020 and into 2021. 

Academic/Professional Qualification

BA (Hons), Russian and French, University of Bristol, 1995.

PhD, Russian and French, University of Bristol, 2002.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions


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