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Caroline Ridler

Languages and Literature, University of Nottingham

Thesis title:

Viktor Tsoi, Leningrad rock poetry and the cultural politics of glasnost

Viktor Tsoi rose to prominence during perestroika with songs and performances suggestive of notions of freedom, youth and political change. By his sudden death in 1990, glasnost had made Tsoi a public figure: he had appeared in feature films and documentaries; his group Kino were selling out stadiums. In death, Tsoi became a cultural icon for Soviet citizens who had participated in the processes of perestroika and glasnost.

Taking Tsoi’s career and creativity as a case study, this project will provide insights into the appropriation of underground phenomena into public culture during glasnost, breaking significant new ground in understanding the cultural politics of the Soviet 1980s. It will also constitute the first serious study of Russian ‘rock-poetry’ in English by digging deeper than existing work into the notion of Tsoi as a ‘rock-poet’, arguing that his lyrics wrote themselves into a Leningrad/Petersburg literary tradition even while creating their own form. My close readings will situate Tsoi’s texts within this canon and identify important poetic influences, revealing what the emphasis placed on verbal texts tells us about the cultural politics of glasnost and providing a new analysis of the consequent view of Russian rock as distinct from Western rock.

Research Area

  • Languages and Literature


  •  Colloquium of East(-Central) European History, Bremen University, 17th December 2019 [upcoming - presenter].
  •  "New Russias 2020", University of Manchester, 7th February 2020 [upcoming - round table presenter].

Other Research Interests

  • Popular music studies;
  • Soviet youth cultures;
  • Subcultures and marginality;
  • Cultural politics of the Soviet Union 1985-1991.


BASEES [British Association for Slavonic & East European Studies].

Previous degrees

  • MSt Modern Languages (Russian and French), University of Oxford, Distinction, 2019.
  • BA (Hons) Modern Languages (with Year Abroad) (Russian and French), Durham University, 1st class honours, 2018.

Prizes and awards

  • Archibald Jackson Prize, Somerville College, Oxford, 2019.
  • Distinction in Spoken French, Durham University, 2018.