In this Noontime Scholars Lecture, Dr. Claire Shaw will discuss her current book project, Socialist Bodies, which considers the history of the body as both a revolutionary dream and an embodied reality under Soviet socialism. The Bolshevik desire to transform and perfect the human body was a central goal of the revolution, reflecting wider ideological and scientific visions of the future of communism. Yet this dream was fraught with complexity, challenged by the messy realities of the imperfect human body, and struggling to translate the lofty ideological goals put forward by Trotsky and others into an embodied experience of Soviet everyday life. This paper will discuss the questions and challenges raised by the project and consider how it responds to wider literatures on the history of the body and of the Soviet Union.
Claire Shaw is Associate Professor in the History of Modern Russia at the University of Warwick. Her research focuses on the history of disability, the senses and the body under Soviet socialism. She is the author of the prize-winning monograph Deaf in the USSR: Marginality, Community, and Soviet Identity, 1917-1991 (Cornell University Press, 2017).