The conference was attended by over 150 students from state and independent schools all over the country. Our advanced learners got a chance to enhance their knowledge and understanding of Russian history, politics, culture and literature.
Considering that 2019 is the thirtieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, the students were particularly lucky to hear two lectures touching on the themes of glasnost and perestroika, especially since these are of direct relevance to the history component of the Russian A Level. The day started with Professor Allison Roy, who analysed the causes and effects of the fall of the Soviet Union, while the final slot of the day was given over to the fascinating reminiscences of Sir Christopher Mallaby on his time serving as Ambassador of the United Kingdom to Germany during the years 1988-93. The latter’s tales about Cold War espionage and how it affected the work and life of a diplomat were both informative and captivating.
Between these two historical counterpoints, the assembled Russianists also heard from Professor Julie Curtis on translating Blok and Professor Andrew Kahn on Pushkin’s Pikovaya Dama as a fable on reason. The practice of translation was expertly taught by Professor Curtis in the afternoon session, while the latter lecture was a fascinating combination of history and literature that saw Professor Kahn answering questions from the floor well into the lunch-break. The hosts kindly prepared a Russian themed lunch with borsch on the menu to mark the occasion!