Professor Katharine Hodgson

Research interests

Current Research:

Twentieth-century Russian Poetry

This has been the focus of most of my research, with particular emphasis on the poetry of the Soviet period, especially the Stalin era. I am in the early stages of a new project, together with my Exeter colleague Dr Emily Lygo, exploring the role of informal poetic groups in Soviet literary life from the 1930s to the 1960s.  More recently I have begun to deal with more recent developments in poetry of the post-Soviet period, including looking at the revival of longer narrative genres, as well as contributing to a project on Russian culture in the age of globalisation, led by colleagues at Leeds, Dr Sarah Hudspith and Dr Vlad Strukov, by exploring how poetry and its place in society has been changing in post-Soviet Russia.

The Twentieth-century Russian Poetic Canon

Between 2010 and 2013 I led a collaborative project funded by the AHRC, 'Reconfiguring the Canon of Twentieth-Century Russian Poetry, 1991-2008. Other participants on the project included Dr Alexandra Smith at the University of Edinburgh, and the project Associate Research Fellow, Dr Joanne Shelton at Exeter, as well as colleagues from other institutions in the UK and beyond. The project explored ways in which the canon of twentieth-century Russian poetry has been debated and revised since the collapse of the USSR in 1991, with a view to establishing how far the old ‘official' canon has maintained its position or been supplanted by the ‘unofficial' canon of the underground. In the course of this project I have examined two major post-Soviet anthologies of twentieth-century Russian poetry, looking at the volumes' contents and their reception in Russia; I am currently working on the place of Russian-Jewish poet Boris Slutskii in the post-Soviet canon, and on the use of material from the canon of official poetry by Timur Kibirov.

Ol′ga Berggol′ts (1910-75)

My second book focused on a poet best known for her poetry on the wartime Siege of Leningrad, and therefore widely thought of as an ‘official' Soviet poet. In the first extended English-language study of the poet I explore Berggol′ts's artistic response to the complexities of her situation, which puts in question the categories of ‘official' and ‘dissident' writer often used in discussions of Soviet-era literature. I have recently contributed a chapter on Berggol'ts's speech at the 1954 Congress of the Soviet Writers' Union, a landmark in Thaw-era culture, and took part in a conference on the narratives of the Leningrad Siege, with a paper on perceptions of time and space in her writing on the Siege.

Poetry of the Second World War

The work on Berggol'ts grew from my doctoral dissertation, which focussed on the poetry that was written in Russian in the USSR during the war years 1941-45, and on the ways it both adhered to and challenged the norms of socialist realism.

Comparative Literature

I have researched the translation and reception of poetry by Rudyard Kipling in pre-war Soviet Russia, and by Heinrich Heine in the mid-nineteenth century, and have explored later translations of Heine by Iurii Tynianov. My most recent piece of research in this area examines Soviet poet Boris Slutskii's translations into Russian of poetry and songs by Bertolt Brecht. 

Research collaborations

In June 2015 I took part in two international workshops/conferences at which researchers met to explore and discuss a range of aspects of a single theme. Dr Sarah Hudspith and Dr Vlad Strukov at Leeds led a workshop on Russian culture in the age of globalisation, while Dr Polina Barskova and Dr Riccardo Nikolosi led a conference in Munich on narratives of the Leningrad Siege. Both events will lead to the publication of a volume of essays, one in the UK, and one in Russia.

The AHRC-funded project 'Reconfiguring the Canon of Twentieth-Century Russian Poetry, 1991-2008' enabled me to collaborate with a number of colleagues. Dr Alexandra Smith of the University of Edinburgh was Co-investigator on the project; together we are completng a book on the Russian poetry canon and national identity. Dr Joanne Shelton was the project Associate Research Fellow, based at Exeter, who, among other things, developed the project database and undertook research trips to Moscow and St Petersburg. Dr Smith, Dr Shelton and I are editing a collection of essays developed by a team of scholars in a series of workshops supported by the project, including colleagues in the UK, the USA, and Russia.