Recently back from Russia, Henry Stead (Open) tells of some of his experiences in St. Petersburg this summer and reflects on beginning his new research project, Brave New Classics, which investigates the impact of the Russian Revolution on British classics until 1956:

“… I was in school all morning, but the afternoons were my own – and since I was there for work, work is what I did (well, most of the time…). My second objective — after the language learning — was to conduct interviews with local researchers, locate libraries and archives, hunt down early Soviet classical translations, and generally soak up what I could of the prevailing attitudes towards my major research questions.

One of the most useful things I did in week two of my stay was given to me as homework by Stanislav. It was to write an introduction in Russian to Brave New Classics, explaining why I was in Russia and what I wanted to find out. The early stages of a new research project are haunted by these questions: What exactly is it that I want to know? What is my hypothesis? And what the hell are my research questions? The limited vocabulary and syntax I had at my disposal forced me to cut to the chase:

‘I am in Russia because I study the relationship between communism and ancient culture. I am interested in the influence of early Soviet cultural practice (and policy) on British culture. Over the next few years I will write a book on this theme and, of course, my story begins in Russia.’ This was enough to get the conversation started, at least…”

Read more on his research project’s blog: