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Research at St Andrews

Claire Eugenie Whitehead


Claire Eugenie Whitehead
Postal address:
School of Modern Languages
St Salvators Quadrangle
St Andrews
United Kingdom


Direct phone: +44 (0)1334 462951

Research overview

I work on Russian literature and culture from the nineteenth century onwards, and have a particular interest in narrative theory. My two principal research areas are crime fiction and the fantastic.

Russian Crime Fiction: My most recent book is The Poetics of Early Russian Crime Fiction, 1860-1917: Deciphering Tales of Detection which was published by Legenda in 2018. It is the first book-length study in any language of the formative years of a genre that now enjoys almost unrivalled popularity in post-Soviet Russia. It discusses Russian crime fiction from a variety of angles, including: generic hybridity; narrative authority; multiple voice; time; intertextuality and metatextuality. It looks at the work of numerous forgotten writers (Nikolai Sokolovskii, Petr Stepanov, Nikolai Timofeev, Semyon Panov, Aleksandr Shkliarevskii, Aleksandra Sokolova, Andrei Zarin, etc.) as well as offering new readings of Dostoevskii and Chekhov. You can read more about the book in this blog interview with the North American Dostoevsky Society

In addition to this book, I have published numerous articles on Russian crime fiction on topics such as abject realism in the work of Timofeev, and the search for meaning in Boris Akunin's Pelagiia trilogy. 

Lost Detectives: Inspired by work related to this book, I am now leading a Knowledge Exchange and Impact project, kindly funded by the University of St Andrews, entitled 'Lost Detectives: Adapting Old Texts for New Media', on which I am collaborating with the author-illustrator, Carol Adlam. We are currently working on adapting various works of nineteenth-century crime fiction into other forms, as well as recording a podcast series.

The Fantastic: My first book (arising out of my PhD) was The Fantastic in France and Russia in the Nineteenth Century: In Pursuit of Hesitation (Legenda, 2006). It provides a comparative analysis of the various narrative techniques that provoke hesitation in the mind of the reader about the interpretation of possibly supernatural events. I am also the editor of the 2012 volume Critical Insights: The Fantastic (Salem Books) which brings together various essays on the subject.

I would welcome postgraduate inquiries from students interested in pursuing projects in any area of the long nineteenth-century in Russian literature and culture, as well as in crime fiction, the fantastic and comparative literature.


I am an experienced and enthusiastic teacher who believes passionately in the role that the teaching of modern foreign languages and literatures has to play in opening up our understanding of other cultures, as well as of our own. 

I have been teaching at university level for more than twenty years, first as a postgraduate tutor at the University of Bristol and then as a permanent lecturer at Bristol and then St Andrews. Over that time, I have taught on a wide variety of modules at undergraduate and postgraduate level, focussing on both language and literature / culture.

In the Russian Department, I frequently coordinate and teach on our Beginners' Language modules (RU1001 and RU1002), as well as teaching grammar and translation on various other modules from first- to final-year. My research-related teaching focusses on three Honours modules: RU3022 The Nineteenth-Century Russian Novel; RU4142 The Fantastic in Nineteenth-Century Russian Literature; and RU4144 Russian Crime Fiction, as well as our core postgraduate modules: RU5011 and RU5013 New Approaches to the Russian Literary Canon. More broadly in the School, I contribute to various Comparative Literature modules, including CO2002 Journeys (Dostoevskii's Winter Notes on Summer Impressions), as well as CO4028 Great Works and their Adaptations. I also teach on, and have frequently coordinated, the School's core postgraduate module, ML5001, Literary and Cultural Theory. 

PhD research projects available

I would be happy to supervise research postgraduate students in any area of nineteenth-century Russian literary and cultural studies, as well as students in comparative literature (particularly in Russian, French and English).

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