Dr Nick Mayhew

Dr Nick Mayhew

Stipendiary Lecturer in Russian


I received my PhD in Slavonic Studies from the University of Cambridge in 2018. Before beginning my post at St John's, from 2018 to 2021 I worked as an Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow and Lecturer in Slavic Languages & Literatures at Stanford University. 

Research Interests

I work on the treatment of queer gender and sexuality in Russian literature and culture. I am particularly interested in questioning prevailing assumptions about the inherent hostility of Russian Orthodox tradition towards queer people. My first book project ("Queer Orthodox Culture in Early Modern Russia"), which I hope to complete in the immediate future, focusses on Russian Orthodox texts and practices of the early modern period, using queer theory to shine light on new archival materials (especially the Russian Orthodox practice of "spiritual brotherhood" ceremonies) and to re-assess certain canonical sources (especially hagiography). My interests are moving quickly into the modern period, and I am particularly interested in the process of criminalising homosexuality that began in Russia in the eighteenth century, the discourses of gender and sexuality that it produced and interactions between legal and literary discourses of (queer) gender and sexuality. 


I have taught surveys of Russian literature and culture spanning the medieval period to the modern day, with a particular focus on gender and sexuality. At Oxford, I teach mainly modern Russian literature, as well as translation from Russian into English. My teaching focusses on the close reading of primary sources, usually literary texts, and on how to analyse them using linguistic, analytical and theoretical tools, making the most of the personal interests of the students and helping them to refine their unique perspectives. 

Awards and Distinctions

2018 - Early Slavic Studies Association prize for best published article from for my article "Banning Spiritual Brotherhoods and Establishing Marital Chastity in Sixteenth- and Seventeenth-Century Muscovy  and Ruthenia" (see below).

Recent Publications

"Moscow: The Third Rome", Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Literature, 2021. Link: https://oxfordre.com/literature/browse;jsessionid=E050B53EC44BE221EE408F0F3BDD3D22?pageSize=10&sort=onlinepubdatedescending&subSite=literature&t=ORE_LIT%3AREFLIT016&t_0=ORE_LIT%3AREFLIT027&t_2=ORE_LIT%3AREFLIT014

"Queering Sodomy: A Challenge to 'Traditional' Sexual Relations in Russia", Queer-Feminist Solidarity and the East/West Divide, ed. Katharina Wiedlack, Saltanat Shoshanova & Masha Godovannaya (Peter Lang, 2020): 77-96. Link: https://www.academia.edu/42088109/Queering_Sodomy_A_Challenge_to_Traditional_Sexual_Relations_in_Russia

"Eunuchs and Ascetic Masculinity in Kievan Rus", The Medieval History Journal 21:1 (2018): 100-116. Link: https://www.academia.edu/38069171/Eunuchs_and_Ascetic_Masculinity_in_Kievan_Rus

"Banning Spiritual Brotherhoods and Establishing Marital Chastity in Sixteenth- and Seventeenth-Century Muscovy  and Ruthenia", Palaeoslavica 25:2 (2017): 80-108. Link: https://www.academia.edu/38069234/Banning_Spiritual_Brotherhoods_and_Establishing_Marital_Chastity_in_Sixteenth_and_Seventeenth_Century_Muscovy_and_Ruthenia

"Reading the Body: Hesychasm in the 'Life of Saint Stephen, Bishop of Perm'", Rossica Antiqua 2017:2 (2017): 63-78. Link: https://www.academia.edu/38069144/Reading_the_Body_Hesychasm_in_the_Life_of_Saint_Stephen_Bishop_of_Perm_