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Polly McMichael

Lecturer in Russian and Slavonic Studies, Faculty of Arts

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Biography

I received my undergraduate degree in Modern and Medieval Languages (Russian and French) from the University of Cambridge, where I went on to study for an MPhil in European Literature and a PhD. Before coming to Nottingham I held the Max Hayward Fellowship in Russian Literature at St Antony's College, University of Oxford (2004-2005) and was a temporary lecturer in Russian at the University of Cambridge (2005-2007), where I taught Russian language and 19th- and 20th-century literature and culture.

Expertise Summary

  • Popular music
  • 20th- and 21st-century Russian cultural studies
  • Slovenian culture

Teaching Summary

Nation, Myth, Identity: Introduction to Russian and Slavonic Studies (R81106) Modern Russian Literature: Texts, Contexts, Approaches (R81003) Screening Russia: Film and Society from the Tsars… read more

Research Summary

My current project is the phenomenon of rock stardom in the last decades of the Soviet Union. I examine rock music's creation of meaning in the Soviet context from different perspectives, including… read more

Selected Publications

  • Nation, Myth, Identity: Introduction to Russian and Slavonic Studies (R81106)
  • Modern Russian Literature: Texts, Contexts, Approaches (R81003)
  • Screening Russia: Film and Society from the Tsars to Putin (R82103)
  • Russian Popular Music in the 20th and 21st Centuries (R83114)
  • Russian language
  • Slovene language

Current Research

My current project is the phenomenon of rock stardom in the last decades of the Soviet Union. I examine rock music's creation of meaning in the Soviet context from different perspectives, including the culture of magnitizdat and "officially" released recordings, the significance and mythologies of live performance, the place of the verbal text in rock music, and the modes of individual and collective authorship that rock groups create. I also look at the ways in which rock music, traditionally thought of as a non-official or even oppositional form of expression, co-existed with the cultural institutions of the Soviet state and how it related to officially supported popular forms within Soviet estrada. The groups whose careers and creativity are discussed include Mashina vremeni, Akvarium, DDT, Kino and Nautilus Pompilius. This project has been supported by an AHRC Fellowship (2010-2011), which enabled me to interview former participants in the rock scenes of Moscow, Leningrad, Sverdlovsk and Riga.

Related current projects bring my expertise in Russian popular music up to the present day. These include work on Pussy Riot as a phenomenon with a problematic relationship to popular music, and on the representation of Soviet and Russian popular music stars on film. I am working on the singer-songwriter Zemfira Ramazanova (front-woman of the group Zemfira, founded 1998) and her reshaping of the genres of Russian popular song. I have also begun research on Slovenian popular music culture.

Past Research

My PhD focused on the development of rock music culture in Leningrad before glasnost and on the texts, performances and personas of the singer-songwriters Boris Grebenshchikov (Akvarium) and Maik Naumenko (Zoopark).

Future Research

My future project is a comparative one on song and singers in socialist and post-socialist Europe. In its initial stages this project will draw on my interests in Slovenian culture under socialism and since 1991.

School of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies

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Nottingham, NG7 2RD

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