Russian and Slavonic Studies at Sheffield has a well-established and internationally recognised profile in research, both in the sphere of linguistics and wider cultural phenomena.

St Basil

Intellectual and Cultural History

Russian at Sheffield has particular strengths in intellectual and cultural history, especially of the Soviet period. This is consolidated by our two research centres, the Bakhtin Centre, which focuses on the the History of Cultural Theory, with particular reference to the work of Mikhail Bakhtin and the intellectuals associated with him, and by the Prokhorov Centre which is the only research forum in the UK with an integrated focus on the intellectual and cultural histories of both Central and Eastern Europe, that focuses on the historical roots of the distinction between an Eastern Europe and a Western Europe, Western European perceptions of Eastern Europe, and vice versa, literary, philosophical, and other constructions of Europe, the intellectual histories of Germany and Russia, and their interconnections. It organises national and international conferences, workshops, exhibitions and Annual Arts and Humanities Prokhorov Lectures, which are delivered by world-leading scholars and public intellectuals. It also manages the Prokhorov Fellowship scheme that allows prominent Russian scholars to visit the University for a period of 6 months as research fellows.

We have particular specialisms in the early Soviet period, especially in Marxism, cultural theory, the history of linguistic thought and relations between the USSR and Asia (Brandist), as well as Stalinism, Soviet cultural history and nationalism (Dobrenko). Such research also bears on contemporary problems such as postcolonial theory and the critique of neoliberalism.

We welcome applications from prospective PhD students who seek to explore general historical and theoretical problems with reference to Russian and other Slavonic material.


Literary studies

Staff at Sheffield have published widely on Russian literature and literary theory. Soviet Literary Theory has been a particular strength (Brandist and Dobrenko), and staff have expertise in areas such as Modernism, the Avant-Garde and Socialist Realism as well as Soviet and post-Soviet literature and culture, Soviet national literatures, Russian and Soviet film.

Other areas of interest include emigre literature and the scope of the artist's production (Fergus). 



Slavonic linguistics at Sheffield has a long history dating back to the founding of the department in 1965. Current research (Neil Bermel) focuses on usage-based theories of language and advocates the use of empirical methods in Slavonic linguistics.

Usage-based theories posit that knowledge of a language resides in knowledge of actual usage and generalisations made as a result of people’s linguistic experiences. Large textual databases and experiments provide the data we use to formulate and test hypotheses (see Acceptability and Forced-Choice Judgements).

Bermel has also worked extensively on topics at the intersection between language structure and sociolinguistics, such as language policy and language change. An ongoing project (Bermel, Knittl) examines the use of multiple languages at Czech heritage sites.

We welcome applications for PhD study looking at Slavonic data, which aim to produce results that are of value to linguistic theory and methodology in general.

Seminar series

Russian & Slavonic Studies at Sheffield contributes to a series of research seminars with invited speakers, workshops and postgraduate work in progress sessions. We also work with colleagues in a range of regional, national and international research centres and networks. See individual staff webpages for more details.