Dr Miriam Dobson
M.A. (Cantab.), M.A., Ph.D. (London)
Department of History
Reader in Modern History
Widening Participation Officer
+44 114 222 2567
Full contact details
Department of History
1 Upper Hanover Street
I studied Russian and French at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, before moving to the School of Slavonic and Eastern European Studies, University College London, where I gained an M.A. in History and later my PhD.
I held a Scouloudi History Research Fellowship at the Institute of Historical Research (2002-03) and a one-year lectureship at the University of Liverpool (2003-4), before starting at Sheffield in September 2004.
My first monograph Khrushchev's Cold Summer: Gulag Returnees, Crime, and the Fate of Reform After Stalin won the 2010 Wayne S. Vucinich Book Prize awarded by Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies 'for the most important contribution to Russian, Eurasian, and East European studies in any discipline of the humanities or social sciences published in English in the United States in the previous calendar year'.
I was principal investigator on a four-year AHRC-funded project entitled Protestants Behind The Iron Curtain: Religious Belief, Identity, And Narrative In Russia And Ukraine Since 1945.
I have published four journal articles based on this research and I am currently completing the manuscript for a monograph provisionally entitled Unorthodox Communities in the Cold War: Protestants, Secularisation, and Soviet Atheism, 1945-1985.
- Research interests
My research interests lie in the history of the Soviet Union, with a particular emphasis on the social and cultural history of post-war Russia and Ukraine. My first book explored popular responses to the reforms of the Khrushchev era, in particular the massive exodus of prisoners from the Gulag. Khrushchev's Cold Summer: Gulag Returnees, Crime, and the Fate of Reform After Stalin examined the impact of these returnees on communities and, more broadly, Soviet attempts to come to terms with the traumatic legacies of Stalin's terror.
My current project explores the history of Baptist and Pentecostal communities in the Soviet Union. It draws on archival material and oral history interviews conducted as part of a AHRC-funded project entitled Protestants Behind The Iron Curtain: Religious Belief, Identity, And Narrative In Russia And Ukraine Since 1945. I have published a major document collection (with N. Beliakova) and four articles relating to this research: on the sensationalist depiction of evangelicals in the Soviet press; on interviews conducted with believers by social scientists; on the role of women in Protestant communities; and on pacifism and apocalyptic fears during the early Cold War. I am completing a monograph which is provisionally entitled Unorthodox Communities in the Cold War: Protestants, Secularisation, and Soviet Atheism, 1945-1985.
My current project focuses on a very specific group – evangelical Protestants – but continues to develop my earlier research interest in how individuals and communities related to the Soviet project.
- Женщины в евангельских общинах послевоенного СССР. 1940-1980-е гг. Исследования и источники [Women in the Evangelical Communities of the Post-War USSR (1940s–1980s). Documents and Analysis]. Moscow: Indrik.
- Холодное лето Хрущева возвращенцы из ГУЛАГа, преступность и трудная судьба реформ после Сталина. Moscow: РОССПЭН.
- Khrushchev’s cold summer : Gulag returnees, crime, and the fate of reform after Stalin. Ithaca :: Cornell University Press,.
- Reading primary sources: the interpretation of texts from nineteenth- and twentieth-century history. London :: Routledge,.
- Protestants, Peace and the Apocalypse: The USSR’s Religious Cold War, 1947–62. Journal of Contemporary History, 53(2), 361-390. View this article in WRRO
- Protestant women in the late Soviet era: gender, authority, and dissent. Canadian Slavonic Papers, 58(2), 117-140. View this article in WRRO
- The Social Scientist Meets the “Believer”: Discussions of God, the Afterlife, and Communism in the Mid-1960s. Slavic Review, 74(1), 79-103. View this article in WRRO
- Child Sacrifice in the Soviet Press: Sensationalism and the “Sectarian” in the Post-Stalin Era. Russian Review, 73(2), 237-259. View this article in WRRO
- View this article in WRRO The Post-Stalin Era: De-Stalinization, Daily Life, and Dissent. Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History, 12(4), 905-924.
- View this article in WRRO POWs and Purge Victims: Attitudes towards Party Rehabilitation, 1956-57. The Slavonic and East European Review, 86(2), 328-345.
- Contesting the Paradigms of De-Stalinization: Readers' Responses to One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. Slavic Review, 64(03), 580-600. View this article in WRRO
- Building peace, fearing the apocalypse: Nuclear danger in Soviet cold war culture, 1945-91 In Grant M & Ziemann B (Ed.), Understanding the Imaginary War: Culture, Thought and Nuclear Conflict, 1945-90 Manchester University Press
- READING PRIMARY SOURCES THE INTERPRETATION OF TEXTS FROM 19TH and 20TH CENTURY HISTORY Introduction, READING PRIMARY SOURCES: THE INTERPRETATION OF TEXTS FROM NINETEENTH- AND TWENTIETH-CENTURY HISTORY (pp. 1-18).
- Letters, Reading Primary Sources: The Interpretation of Texts from Nineteenth and Twentieth Century History (pp. 57-73).
- ‘Show the bandit-enemies no mercy!’: amnesty, criminality and public response in 1953, The Dilemmas of De-Stalinization (pp. 35-54). Routledge
- 'Show the bandit-enemies no mercy!': Amnesty, criminality and public response in 1953, The Dilemmas of De-Stalinization: Negotiating Cultural and Social Change in the Khrushchev Era (pp. 21-40).
- Kid Gloves. Review of In Memory of Memory by Maria Stepanova, translated by Sasha Dugdale. London Review of Books, 43(19).
- How to Flip a Church. Review of Journeys through the Russian Empire: The photographic legacy of Sergei Prokudin-Gorsky by William Craft Brumfield.. London Review of Books(43).
- The Gulag after Stalin: Redefining Punishment in Khrushchev’s Soviet Union, 1953–1964, written by Jeffrey S. Hardy. The Soviet and Post-Soviet Review, 47(3), 379-382.
- Who can I trust after this? Red at Heart: How Chinese Communists Fell in Love with the Russian Revolution by Elizabeth McGuire Oxford, 480 pp, £25.00, November 2017, ISBN 978 0 19 064055 2. London Review of Books, 40(22), 21-22.
- What did Khrushchev say?. London Review of Books, 39(21), 31-34.
- De-Stalinization Reconsidered: Persistence and Change in the Soviet Union. Ed. Thomas M. Bohn, Rayk Einax, and Michel Abesser.. Slavic Review, 75(4), 1048-1050.
- De-Stalinization Reconsidered: Persistence and Change in the Soviet Union. SLAVIC REVIEW, 75(4), 1048-1050.
- Hooligans in Khrushchev’s Russia: Defining, Policing, and Producing Deviance during the Thaw. By Brian LaPierre.. The Journal of Modern History, 86(3), 741-742.
- Keeping Faith with the Party: Communist Believers Return from the Gulag by Nanci Adler.. The American Historical Review, 118(1), 288-288.
- Separate Schools: Gender, Policy, and Practice in Postwar Soviet Education, by E. Thomas Ewing. The English Historical Review, 127(529), 1603-1605.
- Stalin's Gulag: Death, Redemption and Memory. The Slavonic and East European Review, 90(4), 735-735.
- The Social History of Post-War Life. The Historical Journal, 55(2), 563-569.
- Moscow Prime Time: How the Soviet Union Built the Media Empire That Lost the Cultural Cold War. By Kristin Roth-Ey.. Slavic Review, 71(3), 708-709.
- Déportés en URSS. Récits d’Européens au Goulag. Annales: Histoire Sciences Sociales, 68(2), 605-607.
- Moscow Prime Time: How the Soviet Union Built the Media Empire That Lost the Cultural Cold War. SLAVIC REVIEW, 71(3), 708-709.
- Arctic Scientist, Gulag Survivor: The Biography of Mikhail Mikhailovich Ermolaev, 1905–1991. Canadian Slavonic Papers / Revue canadienne des slavistes, 53(1), 106-108.
- The Victims Return: Survivors of the Gulag after Stalin. SLAVIC REVIEW, 70(3), 702-703.
- Communities of the Converted: Ukrainians and Global Evangelism. KRITIKA-EXPLORATIONS IN RUSSIAN AND EURASIAN HISTORY, 11(4), 902-910.
- Russian Protestantism and State Power, 1905-91. KRITIKA-EXPLORATIONS IN RUSSIAN AND EURASIAN HISTORY, 11(4), 902-910.
- Cars for Comrades: The Life of the Soviet Automobile. The English Historical Review, CXXIV(509), 1005-1007.
- The Unknown Gulag: The Lost World of Stalin's Special Settlements. SLAVONIC AND EAST EUROPEAN REVIEW, 87(3), 572-574.
- Conscience, Dissent and Reform in Soviet Russia by Philip Boobbyer. Journal of Contemporary History, 44(2), 354-356.
- Stalin's Terror Revisited. SLAVONIC AND EAST EUROPEAN REVIEW, 87(1), 161-163.
- The Soviet Union: A Documentary History Vol. II: 1939-1991. The English Historical Review, CXXIII(501), 521-522.
- Everything Was Forever, Until It Was No More: The Last Soviet Generation. COLD WAR HISTORY, 7(1), 161-162.
- Russia's Sputnik Generation. Soviet Baby Boomers Talk about Their Lives. H-Soz-Kult.
- Cold Peace: Stalin and the Soviet Ruling Circle, 1945–1953. Reviews in History.
- Stalinism and the Politics of Mobilization: Ideas, Power, and Terror in Inter-War Russia. The English Historical Review, CXXIII(505), 1597-1600.
- Research group
- Current Students
- Completed Students
- Mirjam Galley - Builders of Communism, 'Defective‘ Children and Social Orphans. Soviet Children in Care after 1953.
- Hannah Parker - Voices of the New Soviet Woman: Gender, Emancipation and Agency in Letters to the Soviet State, 1924-1941.
- Alun Thomas (Russian and Slavonic Studies, co-supervisor) - Kazakh Nomads and the New Soviet State, 1919-1934.
- Joel Baker (second supervisor) - 'Anti-politics', infrastructure policy and civil society mobilisations in Spain under the Primo de Rivera dictatorship (1923-1930)
- James Yeoman (second supervisor) - Print Culture and the Formation of the Anarchist Movement in Spain: 1890-1915.
- Matthew Kerry (second supervisor) - Radical Politics in the Spanish Second Republic: Asturias, 1931-1936.
- David Lyon (second supervisor) - Bitter Justice: The Penitentiary of El Puerto De Santa Maria and it's Basque Dimension 1936-1949.
- Teaching activities
- HST112 - Paths from Antiquity to Modernity
- HST202 - Historians and History
- HST232 - Holy Russia, Soviet Empire: Nation, Religion and Identity in the 20th Century
- HST3027/8 - Stalinism and De-Stalinisation, 1929-1961
- HST3303 - Identity and Belief
- HST6085 - Under Attack: The Home Front during the Cold War
- Professional activities and memberships
British Association for Slavonic and Eastern European Studies (BASEES) - Member
- Deputy Admissions Tutor (2018-)
- Senior Tutor (2010-2013)
- Director of MA Programmes (2008-09)
- Member of Teaching Committee (2005-present), Postgraduate Committee (2008-09), Research Committee (2008-09) and Admissions Committee (2004-07)
- History Department Teaching and Learning Advocate (2005-08)
- Public engagement
I have given talks to local audiences including lectures for Sheffield University of the Third Age and Sheffield Historical Association, and a pre-concert talk for Music in the Round. I have blogged for Russian History Blog and for the department’s History Matters. I am enthusiastic about engaging school-age students with history and have organized various events including a ‘History Taster Day’, workshops in collaboration with Music in the Round, and a talk and exhibition on the ‘Soviet Empire’
As part of the Schools History Network the department has made a series of videos for use in the classroom. Below is a short video of myself talking about Khruschev's Secret Speech.
In the media:
I contribute to a variety of history blogs including the Russian History Blog where I blog on topics ranging from Soviet baby boomers, the meaning of 1991 and the Soviet imagery of nuclear work.
I also contribute to the department's History Matters blog. This blog exhibits cutting-edge research, the history behind the headlines and why we think history really matters.