Name: Pavel Stepanov

College: Girton College


Section: Slavonic Studies, Faculty of Modern & Medieval Languages & Linguistics

Supervisor: Emma Widdis

Research topic: Lessons in the World Revolution: Genealogy and Pedagogy of Uprisings in the West and in the East in the Soviet 1920-1930s Film


My route to film studies was through studying the European and Russian history of art and visual culture (European University at St Petersburg). I have been researching various aspects of Soviet film history since I was working on my Specialist degree thesis (The Use of Painting in the Work of the Production Designer, SPUHSS, 2011). My Master’s dissertation (Representations of the West in the 1920-1930s Soviet Cinema, EUSP, 2020) helped me develop an interest in the Soviet interwar visual culture and the cinema of the 1920s. I am particularly interested in the impact international cinematic and visual culture exchange between the Soviet Union, the West and the East had on film and imagery of the era and how it affected intercultural intellectual transfer between countries.


My PhD research focuses on the pedagogical discourse of the Soviet 1920-1930s films about uprisings in the West, in the East and in the Soviet Republics. The project explores not only films as such but a broader discursive range of educational practices about the revolution, pursued by Soviet ideologues at various levels over the course of the decades at the workers’ club. The research aims to explore the ways in which the medium of cinema was manipulated in its transgression from visual to verbal form to disseminate the construction of historical narratives as a means of interactive ideological pedagogy.

Scholarships/ Prizes:

2021-2025 Hill Foundation Scholarship

2019 European University at St Petersburg Scholarship (Academic Internship at Russia Institute, King’s College London)


‘Lessons in Revolution on the Western Border: Uprisings in Ukraine and Belarus in the 1920s – 1930s Soviet Film’, British Association for Slavonic and East European Studies Annual Conference 2023, University of Glasgow, 31 March–2 April 2023

‘International Education of the Masses: Screening the Paris Commune in the 1920s-1930s Soviet Workers’ Club”, BASEES 48th Study Group on the Russian Revolution, University of Southampton (online), 4-6 January 2023

‘Lessons in World Revolution: Instructions for the 1920s-1930s Soviet Workers’ (Film) Club’, ASEEES Annual Convention, Chicago, 10-13 November 2022

‘“How to Celebrate 18 March, the Day of MOPR”: Screening the Revolution at the Workers’ Club’, From Empire to the Union: Wars, Revolutions, Nations, Culture 1905-1922, European University at St Petersburg (online), 23-24 September 2022

‘Crowds in ports: Revolutionary Western City in the 1930s Soviet Film’, British Association for Slavonic and East European Studies Annual Conference 2022, Robinson College, University of Cambridge, 8-10 April 2022

‘On Making Friends and Foes: Representations of the West in the Soviet Cinema’, Trust and Truth: Cambridge AHRC DTP Annual Conference, Peterhouse College, University of Cambridge, 18-20 September 2019

‘Traveling from the West to “the Miraculous Country”: Revisiting the Foreign Context of the Soviet Children Illustrated Book of the 1920s’, Artwork and its Context: International conference on Art History, European University at St Petersburg, 21-22 April 2018

‘Family Business: Narratives of Anti-Fascist Novels Film Adaptations Professor Mamlok (1938) and Semia Oppengeim (1939)’, International Conference of Young Philologists, University of Tartu, 27-29 April 2018

‘From Screen to Book and Back: to the Question of Cinematic Context in Children Illustrated Books of the 1920s – 1930s’, International Conference of Young Philologists, University of Tallinn, 15-17 February 2018


SLA3 Introduction to Russian Culture

Other activities and roles:

March 2023 Decolonising Soviet Studies Research Network, Trinity College, University of Cambridge, co-founder, co-convenor

April 2022 Slavonic Postgraduate Symposium, MMLL, University of Cambridge, co-convenor

October 2022 – February 2022 Slavonic Film Screenings, Trinity College, University of Cambridge, organiser



Cambridge Film & Screen

Tel: +44 (0)1223 335057