Sunday, April 27, 2014

British–Soviet Friendship and Cultural Exchange: promotion, partnership and propaganda, Saturday 24 May 2014

This interdisciplinary conference will look at the scope and nature of Soviet culture disseminated in Britain and significance of cultural relations with the USSR in Britain. It will ask what mechanisms of cultural exchange existed, how Soviet culture was presented to the British public and specialists, and what influence these relations exerted on British writers, creative artists and professionals in fields as diverse as law, music and architecture. It will examine the intersection of this subject with related fields and the methodological challenges associated with approaching literature and culture in a highly politicized context.

The event will be held at the Society for Co-operation in Russian and Soviet Studies, 320 Brixton Road, London  SW9 6AB.

The Programme is available to download.

The cost, including refreshments, is £20.  Please book via the online store here.

This event is sponsored by BASEES

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Reading Group: Simon Dixon on the Russian Orthodox Church and Anglicanism in the Nineteenth Century, 2 May

Professor Simon Dixon, Sir Bernard Pares Chair of Russian History at UCL SSEES, will be leading our next reading group, which will focus on the relationship between the Russian Orthodox Church and Anglicanism. The session will take place on 2 May from 5.30pm-7.30pm at Pushkin House, Bloomsbury ( We will be circulating the texts by email soon. 


It is generally supposed that, before the era of W.J. Birkbeck, relations between Anglicans and the Russian Orthodox Church were the preserve of eccentrics on both sides: maximalists such as William Palmer of Magdalen predictably ran into a brick wall; no leading figures were involved.  I hope to suggest a rather different picture by highlighting the role of two leading Russian laymen: Count Aleksandr Tolstoi, chief procurator of the Holy Synod after the Crimean War, and his anglophile friend, Count Evfimii Putiatin, who combined an expertise in the latest naval technology with ultra-Orthodox piety.  Though eccentrics are certainly to be found (the convert Stephen Hatherly was one), by concentrating on the period 1840 to 1870 we might throw light on a wider set of concerns, focused partly on hostility to Roman Catholicism and partly on the tensions between pan-Slavism and pan-Orthodoxy.

Born in Lancashire, where he learned Russian at Bolton School, Simon Dixon graduated in History from Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, where he held a Junior Research Fellowship after studying for a PhD at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies.  Having spent nine years lecturing at the University of Glasgow, he was Professor of Modern History at the University of Leeds from 1999 to 2008 before moving to the Sir Bernard Pares Chair of Russian History at UCL SSEES.

The Anglo-Russian Research Network organises termly reading groups for those interested in the interactions between British and Russian culture and politics in the period c.1880-1950. These are informal events with plenty of discussion and wine. Anyone who would like to is very welcome to come along with us for dinner at a local restaurant--it would be helpful to know in advance if you're planning to come to dinner so that we have some idea of numbers. Please contact Matt Taunton or Rebecca Beasley if you would like to attend.  

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Reading Group: Phillipa Burt on Theodore Komisarjevsky, Pushkin House, Feb 21st

We are pleased to announce that Philippa Burt will be leading our next reading group, which will focus on the life and work of Theodore Komisarjevsky. The session will take place on February 21st from 5.30pm-7.30pm. The reading material will be circulated soon, so please contact Matt Taunton or Becky Beasley if you would like to attend and we'll send you the texts.
The focus of this session will be the Russian theatre director Theodore Komisarjevsky, who lived and worked in Britian between 1919 and 1939. During his time in the country, Komisarjevsky staged a series of productions at the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre, regularly directed leading actors such as John Gielgud, Peggy Ashcroft and Charles Laughton, and has often been credited with making Chekhov popular with British audiences. However, Komisarjevsky's work was always interpreted through the prism of his national identity, where critics argued that his successes and his failures were due to him being foreign and, in particular, Russian. I am interested in examining how Komisarjevsky negotiated his status as a Russian emigre in inter-war Britain with reference to his own writings and whether his experience was comparable to other Russian emigres in Britain at the time.

Philippa Burt is currently completing her doctorate at Goldsmiths, University of London under Professor Maria Shevtsova. The focus of her thesis is the ideal of ensemble practice in twentieth-century British theatre, where she charts the underlying influence of Russian theatre on British directors.