Dr Clarke is the Head of Russian Studies.
What made you come to Scotland to continue your career?
I received a scholarship to do my PhD in Russian lexis at the University of Strathclyde and after graduating was appointed as lecturer in Russian at Edinburgh.
Has there been anything that has surprised you since you came to the country?
Glaswegian. After many years of learning English and assuming I knew it, the language spoken in Glasgow was a big surprise.
That is of course besides the wistful, cloudy beauty of Scottish scenery, the shimmering light, even in the rainy days, the strong sense of national pride and the willingness of the locals after the first pint to see great similarities between Scots and Russians.
Tell us more about what you do at the University.
I have been teaching Russian language, literature and culture at Edinburgh University for 17 years.
My research relates to the Russian language manifestations of the social and cultural transformations in the post-Soviet period. At present, I am writing a book examining construction of Russian identity in the post-Soviet discourses.
In order to promote my research field in the UK, I have founded Russian in Context Research Unit, which is intended to be a hub for postgraduate study and for international research activity. In April 2010, it will be holding its second international conference, “The Russian Language Outside the Nation: Speakers and Identities”.
I also take part in the international collaborative project The Future of Russian: Language Culture in the Era of New Technology, organised by Bergen University, Norway.
I am proud that I teach a subject that connects people and helps mutual understanding. My former students use their knowledge of Russia and their, usually excellent, language skills in all kinds of careers in art, culture, administration business and diplomacy.
What is the most exciting aspect of the work that you are currently doing?
In my research, perhaps being able to see how Russia is shaping itself: constructing narratives, rewriting histories, debunking and creating traditions. Methods of discourse analysis at my disposal allow me to unpack discursive powers of new (and old) ideologies.
I also find very rewarding to work with my postgraduate students and to see their projects growing in theoretical confidence and sophistication.
What do you like most about living and working in Edinburgh?
I like Edinburgh for its grace and elegance, for having long rusty autumns, for being close to the sea and for embracing a cosmopolitan culture, of which the University is such an important part.
This article was published on Jun 18, 2010