Dr Miriam Dobson

M.A. (Cantab.), M.A., Ph.D. (London)

School of History, Philosophy and Digital Humanities

Reader in Modern History

Widening Participation Officer

Miriam Dobson
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+44 114 222 2567

Full contact details

Dr Miriam Dobson
School of History, Philosophy and Digital Humanities (nee Department of History)
Jessop West
1 Upper Hanover Street
S3 7RA

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 second 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 have completed a monograph provisionally entitled The Unorthodox: Soviet Atheism, Protestants, and the Cold War, 1944-1985.

My future research takes the form of a collaboration with Professor Polly Jones (University of Oxford) for a project called  ‘The 101st kilometre: Banishment, belonging and the control of Soviet space’. The concept ‘101st kilometre’ denotes the zones around major cities from which various politically or socially ‘marginal’ populations were banished.



  • Dobson MJ & Beliakova N (2015) 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. RIS download Bibtex download
  • Dobson M (2014) Холодное лето Хрущева возвращенцы из ГУЛАГа, преступность и трудная судьба реформ после Сталина. Moscow: РОССПЭН. RIS download Bibtex download
  • Dobson M (2009) Khrushchev’s cold summer : Gulag returnees, crime, and the fate of reform after Stalin. Ithaca :: Cornell University Press,. RIS download Bibtex download

Edited books

  • (Ed.) (2008) Reading primary sources: the interpretation of texts from nineteenth- and twentieth-century history. London :: Routledge,. RIS download Bibtex download

Journal articles


  • Dobson M (2023) “Ferment” in the Congregation: Gender Dynamics and Conflict within the Moscow Baptist Congregation in the 1950s and 1960s In Maxwell M & Scales TL (Ed.), Baptists and Gender Papers for the Ninth International Conference on Baptist Studies Mercer University Press RIS download Bibtex download
  • Dobson MJ (2016) 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 RIS download Bibtex download
  • Dobson M (2008) Letters, Reading Primary Sources: The Interpretation of Texts from Nineteenth and Twentieth Century History (pp. 57-73). RIS download Bibtex download
  • (2006) ‘Show the bandit-enemies no mercy!’: amnesty, criminality and public response in 1953, The Dilemmas of De-Stalinization (pp. 35-54). Routledge RIS download Bibtex download
  • Dobson M (2005) '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). RIS download Bibtex download

Book reviews

Research group

Research supervision

Current Students

Primary Supervisor

All 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.


Find out more about PhD study in History

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

Administrative roles:

  • 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.