‘Russian was introduced into the curriculum at my secondary school when I was in my penultimate year. Because I liked languages, I thought I’d give it a try – and soon became hooked. I went on to study it as an undergraduate at Cambridge, where in my final year I was introduced to Mikhail Bulgakov’s novel Master i Margarita. That was a key moment for my career. Bulgakov became the topic of my PhD, and the focus of my subsequent research, which then broadened out into the over-arching theme of Russian humour and satire. When I took up post as a university lecturer, I included Bulgakov in my course whenever possible, and was always gratified to see the enthusiasm with which students responded to his works, just as I myself had done as an undergraduate.
I started my teaching career in the Russian Department at the University of Hull, transferring to Nottingham at the end of the 1980s, when the department in Hull was closed down. Cuts and closures have been a feature of university life over the past three decades, with ‘minority subjects’ always being the most vulnerable, but the Nottingham team proved to be strong and resilient. I have faith that this will continue to be the case, whatever the future may bring in the way of upheavals and reorganisations.
From 2001-4 I was Head of Department of Russian and Slavonic Studies, then from 2005-8 Head of the School of Modern Languages. In 2011 I retired, and now look back on my time in Nottingham with appreciation for the opportunities it gave me to pursue my research interests and to enjoy the intellectual companionship of my colleagues. As for all those students I was privileged to teach, both in Hull and in Nottingham, I remember them with gratitude. I learned a lot from them.’
Lesley MilneEmeritus Professor
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