This year’s Russian Conference, which took place on Friday 22nd November 2019, was on a scale and had an impact bigger than anything we’ve seen before.
Organised as ever by our champion of all things Russian, Ms Solovyova, the day was attended by over 150 students from state and independent schools all over the country. Some of those schools attending included Bancroft’s, Stamford Endowed Schools and Bristol Grammar School – and that’s just the ones whose MFL Departments were tweeting about it on the day! Bringing all these students together, in a very much packed Main Hall, was a shared passion for Russian language, literature and culture, which was met and enriched by the fascinating range of speakers appearing that day.
Considering that 2019 is the thirtieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, the students were particularly lucky this year to hear a pair of 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 the ever-wonderful Professor Julie Curtis on translating Blok and Professor Andrew Kahn on Pushkin’s Pikovaya 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 Profressor Kahn answering questions from the floor well into the lunch-break. Fortunately, a Russian feast refreshed our students in advance of the afternoon’s activities (and was much enjoyed by everyone else, also!).
The day was wrapped up by a gracious message of encouragement and support from Mr Anton Chesnokov, a representative of the Russian Cultural Centre Rossotrudnichestvo. All in all, a great day was had by all. Поздравляю!