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Iryna Shuvalova

Iryna Shuvalova


St John's College

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My research focuses on the songs about the War in Donbas, exploring how these songs reflect the identity shifts in the communities involved in the war and/or affected by it.

I examine both popular songs produced by the established professional artists and amateur songs. My key focus is on the textual material. However, where necessary, I also account for the musical and visual elements of the songs.

My research sample includes the songs representing a broad variety of communities involved – from those in Ukraine, to occupied Ukrainian territories of the self-proclaimed republics of DNR and LNR, to Russia.

My focus is on the ‘us’ and ‘them’ of these songs, on the notions of ‘friend’ and ‘enemy’, on the way people perceive and present the group they belong to (the in-group) and the adversary group (the out-group).

I am not interested merely in some specific types of identities most commonly examined in the context of this war (such as ethnic or cultural ones). Instead, I look into my material to find out which identities really matter in the War in Donbas, and at how, or in what terms, people generally prefer (or are forced) to identify themselves. I am particularly interested in the various strategies of othering applied in this context.

Selected Publications

Original work (books)

  • Pray to the Empty Wells. Poems / Iryna Shuvalova. – Lost Horse Press, ID, USA, 2019 (expected).
  • Az. Poems / Iryna Shuvalova. – Kyiv: Elektroknyha, 2014.
  • Os. Poems / Iryna Shuvalova. – Kyiv: Smoloskyp, 2014.
  • Ran. Poems / Iryna Shuvalova. – Kyiv: Smoloskyp, 2011.


  • 120 pages of “Sodom”. The queer literature anthology / Edited by. – Kyiv: Krytyka, 2009.


  • Woolf, Virginia. To The Lighthouse / Translated by. – Lviv:  VSL (Old Lion’s Publishing House), 2019 (expected).
  • Martel, Yann.  Life of Pi / Translated by. – Lviv:  VSL (Old Lion’s Publishing House), 2016.


Original poems and translations appeared in: Ambit, International Poetry Review, Modern Poetry in Translation, Radar, Poem, Podium Literatur, The Wolf, Words Without Borders and others.

Conference Papers

  • Songs of the Donbas War: Shifting Identities and the Strategies of Othering (Danyliw Seminar, Ottawa, Canada, 2018)
  • Fighting the New War, Mending Past Divisions: Consolidation of Conflicting Cultural Narratives in the Songwriting of Ukrainian Soldiers in Donbas (ASN, New York, United States, 2018)
  • Political Art and Propaganda: Blurred Lines in a War-Torn Society. The Complexities of Ukrainian Donbas (“Art and Activism: Resilience Techniques in Times of Crisis,” Leiden, the Netherlands, 2017)
  • A Tale of Two Regions: Deconstructing the Myth of Divided Ukraine through Folk Songs (“The End of the Region,” Liege, Belgium, 2017)
  • Making Past Trendy: Remembrance or Forgetting? The Case of the Ubiquitous Cossacks (“Why Remember? Memory and Remembrance in Times of War and Its Aftermath,” Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, 2017)
  • The Role of Popular Songs in Forging the Trauma Lexicon: the Case of the War in Donbas (“Bringing Conflict Home,” York, United Kingdom, 2017)


  • Gates Cambridge Scholarship (2016)
  • AHSS Language Bursary (2016, 2017)

Undergraduate Teaching

  • 2017 – Present: Junior Teaching Fellow in Ukrainian Language (open course), MML, University of Cambridge
  • 2016 - Present: Oral Proficiency Tutor (pro-bono), University Language Center, University of Cambridge
  • 2018: Supervisor in Russian Grammar for ab-initio learners, MML, University of Cambridge
  • 2013 – 2014: Multilingual Graduate Tutor, Institute for Writing and Rhetoric, Dartmouth College
  • 2013 – 2014: Writing Tutor, Institute for Writing and Rhetoric, Dartmouth College
  • 2009 – 2011: Seminar Instructor in Philosophical Hermeneutics, Faculty of Philosophy, Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv

Other Teaching and Outreach

  • 2017 – Present: Assessor for English PEN
  • 2014 – Present: Peer reviewer for the Fulbright Program in Ukraine
  • 2017 – 2018: Regional Leader (Europe) of the Gates Cambridge Graduate Outreach Initiative
  • 2017 – 2018: Mentor for the Ukraine Global Scholars scholarship program
  • 2015 – 2018: Senior admissions counselor with Golden Path Academics (Vietnam)
  • 2015 – 2016: Lecturer for the EducationUSA resource center (Kyiv, Ukraine)
  • 2015 – 2016: Mentor and training coordinator for ConnectUkrainians outreach project
  • 2015 – Developer and leader of ПисаТИ nation-wide writing workshop series (Ukraine)

Languages (in addition to English)

Ukrainian, Russian – native proficiency; German, Polish and Spanish – limited working proficiency; French, Greek (modern) and Italian – elementary proficiency.

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