31/01/2017, by CLAS

Celebrating 100 years of Russian and Slavonic Studies at Nottingham

The Department of Russian and Slavonic Studies at The University of Nottingham celebrated its centenary in 2015-6, and over the past year, together with my fellow curator Benjamin Taylor and members of the University’s Web Team, I have been responsible for the creation of an online exhibition marking this milestone, which showcases some of the highlights from the past 100 years.

The starting point for the research for the exhibition was the wealth of material held by The University of Nottingham’s Manuscripts and Special Collections on the history of the department. The majority of this was amassed by Emeritus Professor Malcolm Jones over his time in the department as an undergraduate, postgraduate and member of staff. The collection includes photograph albums, old exam papers, and programmes for many different events held over the years. It was interesting spotting younger versions of familiar faces, while the exam questions were certainly thought provoking, and frequently written in a very different style from today!

Researching the life stories of previous members of staff proved fascinating. Perhaps the most colourful figure in the history of the department, Professor Janko Lavrin, counted poets Vladimir Mayakovsky and Anna Akhmatova amongst his acquaintances, and briefly shared a flat with Velemir Khlebnikov during his time in St Petersburg in the early 1900s. On a more personal note, I was pleased to discover that the book from which I had first learnt the Cyrillic alphabet and the basics of Russian grammar, The Penguin Russian Course, had originally been devised by a former head of department, Professor John Fennell.

Staff and students past and present contributed photographs and personal recollections, sharing memories of learning lines in Russian, experiences on study trips to the Soviet Union, and details of what it was that inspired them to study Slavonic languages in the first place. Emeritus Professor Cynthia Marsh provided us with several photograph albums featuring student productions within the department, for which she was responsible for directing for many years. She was also persuaded to dig out some VHS recordings of the productions, which Ben spent many hours digitising to enable their inclusion in the exhibition.

Ben and I felt that the creation of this exhibition presented an important opportunity to record our department’s many achievements, and celebrate the people, places and traditions which have made Russian and Slavonic Studies the special department it is.
To view the exhibition, please visit: http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/clas/about/news-and-events/rssgallery/index.aspx

Dr Jill Warren
Teaching Associate and RSS Centenary Exhibition Curator
Department of Russian and Slavonic Studies

Posted in Russian and Slavonic Studies