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Dr Claire McCallum

Lecturer in Twentieth Century Russian History

5064

01392 725064

My research centres on the social and cultural history of the Soviet Union in the years following the end of the Second World War, with a particular focus on issues related to gender and visual culture. I have published extensively on the impact of the War on the representations of masculinity in official visual culture, which includes groundbreaking work on the evolving image of Soviet fathers, depictions of disability, and the treatment of trauma and grief in Socialist Realism between the end of the War and 1965. 

My current project examines the dynamics of the Soviet peace movement after 1945, with a particular emphasis on Soviet engagement with the Global South during this period. 

 

Note for students:

My office hours for this term will be taking place on Teams and will operate on a drop-in basis. Please click on the link below to join the relevant meeting.

Tuesdays 14.00-16.00 

NB: In Weeks 10 and 11 my office hours will run from 15.30 until 17.30 due to a timetabling change - you should still use the link above to join the meeting.

 

If you are in a setting where it is not possible to hold private conversations or discuss sensitive matters, please contact me so we can make arrangements to discuss the matter over chat, which will be private. Messages on Teams can also be deleted or conversations hidden if required.

Research interests

My research to date has been largely focused on Soviet gender ideals and their representation in visual culture, and has looked specifically at the representation of men and idealised masculinity in the two decades following 1945. Here I was primarily interested in discovering the impact of the War on the image of the New Soviet Man, how that image encompassed the war experience, and what might have changed in the years that followed 1945 and especially during the years of Destalinistion. Key themes of this research included examination of the representation of disability and injury, the treatment of death and male grief and trauma, and the evolution of the Soviet father in visual culture after the War and throughout the Khrushchev era, a period traditionally seen as one marked by fatherlessness - both practically and symbolically following the death of Stalin in 1953. This research led to the publication of a number of articles and a book chapter, as well as my monograph, published by Northern Illinois Univeristy Press in 2018 

My new research project - which is in its early stages -  examines the Soviet peace movement after 1945. By examining the records of state organisations and those who interacted with them; analysing official Soviet culture; and making use of both governmental and non-governmental materials related to Soviet peace activities held in Western Europe and the USA, this research will focus on the multiple manifestations of concern for peace in Soviet society. It will think about how peace was harnessed by the state as a means of mobilising the citizenry, how and why the Soviet people engaged with these ideas of peace and how they negotiated their own desires for a peaceful future within the parameters set by the regime. The internationalist nature of many of these activities will be highlighted here by paying particular attention to the movement of people and consequently ideas across the supposed 'Iron Curtain', which ranged from the exchanges organised by friendship societies and trade unions to more to more unconventional initiatives such as peace cruises. 

Ultimately, this project aims to show how the Soviet 'fight for peace' sits at the centre of a complex network of factors that shaped the Cold War period, as peace was at the heart of how many of the key developments of the age, such as decolonisation or the struggles for racial and gender equality, were understood and discussed by both the Soviet state and the people. As such, this research will move beyond thinking about peace as primarily defined by US-USSR relations to also consider Soviet interaction with the decolonising world, paying particular attention to the relationships between Soviet (traditionally Islamic) communities in Central Asia and those in the Global South. By making the Soviet periphery a key part of this analysis, this research will shift the focus away from the traditional East/West binary of the Cold War era to offer a fresh and more globalised vision of the significance of peace for the Soviet state and the Soviet people in the years between the end of World War Two and the collapse of the USSR.

Teaching

I teach a wide variety of modules related to the history of Russia and the Soviet Union, as well as contributing to many of the department's key modules at both undergraduate and postgraduate level. I have been a member of the Higher Education Academy since 2012.

Modules taught

Biography

I began my studies at the University of York in 1999, completing a BA in History before going on to read for an MA in Modern History and Culture in 2002. After spending some time away from academia, I returned to my studies in February 2007 to begin my PhD in the Department of Russian and Slavonic Studies at the University of Sheffield.  Working under the supervision of Professor Susan Reid, my research explored the impact of the Second World War on representations of idealised masculinity in official visual culture in the years between 1945 and 1965. After completing my PhD, I joined the History Department here at Exeter in September 2011.