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Languages, Cultures and Visual Studies

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Dr Emily Lygo

Senior Lecturer in Russian


01392 724311


I am a Senior Lecturer in Russian and teach both language and cultural modules. My research currently focuses on how people in Britain understood the USSR in Britain during the Cold War: I look at translation, cultural exchange, media, and societies of enthusiasts to examine what kind of information about the USSR was made available the general public and what impression it created of the USSR. 

I teach modules on Russian history, literature and culture. I particularly enjoy teaching 'Understanding Russia' at level 2. I really enjoy the seminar-based teaching on the module and helping students to navigate lots of information about Russia and formulate intelligent and coherent ideas and questions on the topics we cover.

I am also responsible for supporting students in making arrangements for their year abroad in a Russian-speaking country.

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I welcome enquiries about postgraduate supervision in any of the following fields.

Russian Poetry especially of the Soviet Period

I wrote my thesis on the history of poetry in Leningrad, 1953-75. The best known poet from this post-Stalin period is the Nobel Laureate and American Poet Laureate Joseph Brodsky (1940-1996); although my interest in this period developed through his work, the thesis aims to describe Brodsky's context and contemporaries and to avoid a singular focus on his life and work.

Literary Translation in Russia

Literary translation has played an important role as the source of new ideas and literary models throughout the history of Russian literature; in 2008 I organized a conference on this subject and then produced an edited book of articles. I have published on literary translation in the USSR, examining the how politics shaped a particular representation of Western poetry in the USSR but also how translators were able to influence the selection of texts and authors as well.

Anglo-Soviet Relations and Russian Literature in Translation during the Cold War

I have researched and written on the history of the Society for Cultural Relations with the USSR, based in London. This organization, which had cultural links with Soviet counterparts and published and presented information about the USSR to a British audience, was strongly supportive of the USSR despite claiming to maintain a politically neutral position. I am looking much more widely now at the understanding of the USSR in Britain during the Cold War. I ask what information was availalbe to people, what were the most influential sources in creating an idea of Soviet Russia, and who had influence in creating these impresssions. The book on this subject that I am writing will argue that literary translation was particularly important in creating the image of Russia - writers including Boris Pasternak, Svetlana Alliluyeva, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and Evgenii Evtushenko.

Research collaborations

Russian Religious Philosophers in Exile - a Digital Humanities Project

I am working with a colleague at Kings College London to develop this project which uses digital humanities techniques to help us understand the history of texts that were disseminated largely in translation because their authors were in exile after the Revolution. The philosophical texts of a groups of Russian philsophers exiled by Lenin found their way to readers in translations into English, German and French. This project will allow us to visualise what happened to the meaning of those texts as they were translated across languages and will be an important start to understanding how we can trace the development and migration of ideas in philosophical texts as they are translated for other languages, cultures and times.

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I am open to discussing research proposals on any relevant subject given my research expertise. I am especially happy to consider working with candidates with interests in the following areas: Russian culture in Britain, Anglo-Russian relations, Translation of Russian literature, especially during the Cold War.

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Copyright Notice: Any articles made available for download are for personal use only. Any other use requires prior permission of the author and the copyright holder.

| 2021 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2011 | 2010 | 2008 | 2006 |


  • Lygo E. (2021) Azazello and the Meaning of Poetry, Website: Notes from the Zone of Kaif, internet published.


  • Lygo EF. (2018) Translation and the Cold War, The Routledge Handbook of Translation and Politics, Routledge, 442-454, DOI:10.4324/9781315621289.





  • Lygo EF. (2011) Dmitry Bobyshev, volume 359, no. Russian Poets of the Soviet Era.
  • Lygo EF. (2011) The Art of Accommodation, Peter Lang.


  • Lygo EF. (2010) Leningrad Poetry 1953-75. The Thaw Generation, Peter Lang.


  • Lygo EF. (2008) Aleksandr Blok. [PDF]
  • Ready O. (2008) The Ties of Blood. Russian literature from the 21st Century, Rossica International Review of Russian Culture, no. 18.


  • Lygo EF. (2006) The Need for Young Voices: Writers' Union Policy Concerning Young Poets, 1953-64, The Dilemmas of De-Stalinisation: a Social and Cultural History of Reform in the Khrushchev Era, Routledge, 193-208.

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I teach Russian language at all levels. I'm currently leading the module 'Intermediate Russian' which is for our post-beginners module at level 2.

I teach a module 'Exploring Revolution' which looks at the 1920s in the USSR. It examines whether the Revolution can be seen as truly revolutionary, who were the winners and losers in its aftermath, and whether Stalinism was its inevitable consequence.

I also teach on 'Understanding Russia', which is a module that tries to help students make sense of the huge amount of media material produced about Russia. We study aspects of Russian culture such as models of leadership, the culture of religion and spirituality, and influences of East and West in order to better understand Russia and attitudes towards it in the present day.

Modules taught

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I completed my undergraduate and postgraduate education at the University of Oxford, where I completed my DPhil on Leningrad Poetry, 1953-75 in 2005.

I was appointed Lecturer in Russian at the University of Exeter in 2006.

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More information

Conferences Organised (since 2001)

  • April 2008 Conference ‘Pushkin's Post-Horses: Literary Translation in Russian Culture', University of Exeter

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