Isobel Palmer


Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

• Russian and Russophone poetry (19th-21st Century)
• Russian Formalism and literary theory
• Comparative modernisms, world literature, post-colonialism
• (Modernist) performance culture
• Intersections between literature and visual art/music


Research activity per year

Personal profile


I have been an Assistant Professor in the Department of Modern Languages since September 2018. I completed my MA and PhD at the University of California, Berkeley and hold a BA in Russian and German from the University of Cambridge.

Research interests

I am a specialist in twentieth-century literature and culture in Russia and the Soviet Union, with research expertise in modernist and avant-garde poetry and visual art, interartistic experimentation, Formalist literary theory, performance cultures, media theory, and the urban humanities. I am especially interested in the relationship between poetic culture and the wider social environment, with a particular emphasis on creative communities. My first book, Revolutions in Verse. The Medium of Russian Modernism is forthcoming with Northwestern University Press (2024). Other recent publications include articles on Futurist performance (International Yearbook of Futurism Studies), the connections between modernist poetry, avant-garde experimentation in the visual arts, and modern urban infrastructure (Slavic and East European Journal), post-revolutionary efforts to reconceptualise Soviet poetry and its audiences through innovative use of visual and sonic media, and several book chapters on poetry performance and poetic form.


My current project, ‘Poetry in Public: The Social Life of Russian Verse’, funded by the British Academy and the Leverhulme Trust, explores practices of reading poetry aloud during the modernist period and in late Soviet underground culture. The project looks at practices of listening and gathering in/as audiences to ask how poetry readings become sites for the social circulation of meaning, both within the hyper-local space of the intimate “circle” and across the multiple overlapping global scales to which emigration and mediatization give rise. The major output of this project will be a monograph that looks both at the historical role of avant-garde and unofficial practices of poetry performance in forming (alternative) publics and at how this history has been absorbed into mainstream cultural narratives about the past and used to constitute new communities of meaning.


I am also currently working on a project about multilingualism and conflict zones in relation to Russophone poetry from Kazakhstan and the Northern Caucasus region. I am Co-I on a BRIDGE seed-funded project in collaboration with colleagues at UoB and University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign entitled "Russophone Literary Diversity". 


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