Find out about the Prokhorov Centre's Directors, Permanent Members and Prokhorov Fellows.
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The Prokhorov Centre is directed by Evgeny Dobrenko and Henk de Berg in the University of Sheffield's School of Languages and Cultures.
Evgeny Dobrenko is Professor and Head of Russian and Slavonic Studies at the University of Sheffield.
His research interests lie in Soviet and post-Soviet literature and culture, Socialist Realism, Soviet national literatures, Russian and Soviet film, and critical theory. He is the author, editor, and co-editor of 20 books – most recently, A History of Russian Literary Theory and Criticism and The Cambridge Companion to Twentieth-Century Russian Literature – and over 300 articles and essays, which have been translated into ten languages. Before joining the University of Sheffield, Evgeny Dobrenko worked in the Soviet Union (Odessa State University, Moscow State University, the Russian State University for the Humanities, Moscow), the USA (Duke, Stanford, Amherst College, University of California), and in the UK at the University of Nottingham.
He has held a Stanford Humanities Centre Fellowship, a Karl Loewenstein Fellowship in Political Science and Jurisprudence at Amherst College, and a Kennan Institute of the Woodrow Wilson International Centre Fellowship. He was a Fellow at the New York University International Centre for Advanced Studies and at the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities at Cambridge. In 2012, he was awarded the Efim Etkind Prize for the best book about Russian culture.
Henk de Berg is Professor of German, with specialist expertise in the European history of ideas, and Head of Germanic Studies at the University of Sheffield.
A graduate of the University of Leiden in the Netherlands, he came to Sheffield in 1996, after having taught comparative literature at Leiden for several years. He has published three monographs, including an introduction to Freud’s theory and its use in literary and cultural studies (described by Peter Gay as “as good an introductory text as one can possibly hope for”), which received a CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title Award and has been translated into three European languages as well as Chinese. He has also co-edited six books on critical theory, the most recent one being Modern German Thought from Kant to Habermas: An Annotated German-Language Reader, which includes ca. 100 pages of editorial introductions and annotations.
Fluent in French as well as German, Henk de Berg has worked extensively on the Russian-born French philosopher Alexandre Kojève and is completing a project on the Bulgarian-born French thinker Tzvetan Todorov. He is currently working on Ernst Bloch’s view of Hegel, on Oswald Spengler, and on visions of Europe and the West.
Professor Neil Bermel
Neil Bermel is Professor of Russian and Slavonic Studies at the University of Sheffield.
His interests focus on the language and linguistic culture of the Czech Republic, a nation with historic and cultural ties to Austria and Germany, but whose language is part of the Slavonic group that includes Russian, Slovak, and Polish. He has examined the linguistic and cultural anxieties around orthographic reform and is currently working on the representation of languages as media for communication and as objects at Czech heritage sites, an outcome of the “English in Europe Project” at the universities of Sheffield, Copenhagen, Zaragoza, and Charles University in Prague. He has published a number of translations of Czech literature, including two novels by Pavel Kohout as well as Helga’s Diary: A Young Girl’s Account of Life in a Concentration Camp (2013; with extensive critical apparatus).
Neil Bermel is the author of Linguistic Authority, Language Ideology, and Metaphor: The Czech Spelling Wars (2007), which won the Best Book in Slavic Linguistics award in 2008 and the George Blazyca Prize for Best Book in East European Studies in 2009. His other publications include Register Variation and Language Standards in Czech (2000), Context and the Lexicon in the Development of Russian Aspect (1997), and the co-edited volume: Attitudes towards English in Europe (2015).
Dr Miriam Dobson
Miriam Dobson is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Sheffield, specialising in modern Russian history.
She graduated in Russian and French from the University of Cambridge before gaining MA and PhD degrees from the School of Slavonic and East European Studies at University College London.
Her first monograph, Khrushchev’s Cold Summer: Gulag Returnees, Crime, and the Fate of Reform after Stalin (Cornell UP, 2009), won the 2010 Wayne S. Vucinich Book Prize and has also been published in Russian. Her other publications include a Russian-language book containing documents and analyses on women in the evangelical communities of the post-war USSR from the 1940s to the 1980s (with Nadezhda Beliakova) and the co-edited volume Reading Primary Sources (with Benjamin Ziemann; Routledge, 2008).
Miriam Dobson is currently the principal investigator of the AHRC-funded project ‘Protestants behind the Iron Curtain: Religious Belief, Identity, and Narrative in Russia and Ukraine since 1945’. She contributes to a variety of history blogs, including the Russian History Blog.
Dr Dina Gusejnova
Dina Gusejnova is Lecturer in Modern History at the University of Sheffield.
She holds BA, MPhil, and PhD degrees from Cambridge and as a doctoral student was awarded both Marie Curie and DAAD grants. After a Harper-Schmidt Fellowship at Chicago (2009-11), she took up a Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship at University College London and subsequently taught at Queen Mary University of London, before joining Sheffield in 2015.
Her research interests include modern European and global intellectual history, transnational political history, and the history of migration. Her book European Elites and Ideas of Empire, 1917-57 (Cambridge UP, 2016) explores the connections between ideas of Europe and imperial memory, while her edited volume Cosmopolitanism in Conflict: Imperial Encounters from the Seven Years’ War to the Cold War (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017) is the first-ever study to engage with the relationship between cosmopolitan political thought and the history of global conflict.
In addition to her more scholarly publications, Dina Gusejnova has contributed to the Journal of the History of Ideas blog and BBC Radio 4. She is a bilingual speaker of German and Russian.
Dr Natalia Jonsson-Skradol
Natalia Jonsson-Skradol specialises in the study of totalitarian ideologies (primarily Stalinism and National Socialism) and their expressions in political rhetoric, literature, and the arts.
She came to Sheffield in 2009 as the recipient of a four-year British Academy Fellowship. Before and after that, she studied and worked in Israel, Germany, and Austria. In 2013-2017, she was a research associate collaborating with Evgeny Dobrenko on the project Literary Pax Sovietica: National Revival and Cultural Unification in Post-War Eastern Europe.
She is the co-editor of Socialist Realism in Central and Eastern European Literatures (2018) and the co-author of a forthcoming monograph on Stalinist humour (provisionally entitled State Laughter: Genres of the Comic under Stalin).
A native speaker of Russian, Natalia Jonsson-Skradol is also fluent in English, Hebrew, and German, and she has a solid working knowledge of French and Spanish.
Ben Lewis is a Wolfson-funded PhD candidate and postgraduate tutor in German at the University of Sheffield.
He specialises in German political thought between 1871 and 1945, with a particular interest in socialism. He studied German at Sheffield and Bonn and after graduating with a first-class honours degree from Sheffield worked for 6 years as a political organiser, journalist, and translator. He then embarked on an MA at the same university, which he completed in 2015. His PhD research, under the supervision of Henk de Berg, focusses on the politics of the German intellectual Oswald Spengler (1880–1936). He also takes a keen interest in the theory of history; his translation of On the Road to Global Labour History, a festschrift for the doyen of global labour history, Marcel van der Linden, was published in 2017.
Ben Lewis has edited and translated three volumes of texts by European socialist thinkers: Clara Zetkin: Letters and Writings (2015; with Mike Jones), Karl Kautsky on Colonialism (2013; with Mike Macnair), and Zinoviev and Martov: Head to Head in Halle (2011; with Lars T. Lih). His book on the pioneering Czech-Austrian Marxist Karl Kautsky (1854-1938) is forthcoming from Brill as Karl Kautsky on Democracy and Republicanism.
Professor Adam Piette
Adam Piette is Professor of Modern Literature and Head of the School of English at the University of Sheffield.
He came to Sheffield in 2005, after a career at the universities of Lausanne and Glasgow. A specialist in war studies, contemporary poetry, Cold War cultures, and European modernism, he is the author of Remembering and the Sound of Words: Mallarmé, Proust, Joyce, Beckett (1996), Imagination at War: British Fiction and Poetry 1939-1945 (1995), and The Literary Cold War, 1945 to Vietnam (2005). He edited the special issue of Translation and Literature on “Modernism and Translation: The Salt Companion to Peter Robinson” with Katy Price (2007) and The Edinburgh Companion to Twentieth-Century British and American War Literature with Mark Rawlinson (2012). He is also the co-editor of the international contemporary poetry journal Blackbox Manifold.
Professor Robert Stern
Robert Stern is a Professor in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Sheffield.
He came to Sheffield in 1989, having been first a graduate and then a research fellow at St John’s College, Cambridge.
His main interests in the history of philosophy have been in nineteenth-century post-Kantian German philosophy, especially Hegel. His interests in contemporary philosophy are in epistemology, metaphysics, ethics, and political philosophy. He is currently working on the Danish philosopher and theologian K. E. Løgstrup and starting a new project on Martin Luther seen from a philosophical perspective.
He has authored four monographs and two collections of his papers – Hegelian Metaphysics (Oxford UP, 2009) and Kantian Ethics (Oxford UP, 2015) – while a monograph on Løgstrup is forthcoming. He has edited several collections of essays, most recently Transcendental Arguments in Moral Theory (with Jens Brune and Micha H. Werner; de Gruyter, 2017).
He has received research funding from the AHRC, Leverhulme, and the Templeton Foundation. Robert Stern was Head of Department from 2004 to 2008 and is currently Chair of the Philosophy subpanel for REF2021 and President of the British Philosophical Association.
Dr Seán Williams
Seán Williams is Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow at the University of Sheffield.
He has BA (Congratulatory First), MSt, and DPhil degrees from Oxford and has held research positions at the University of California at Berkeley and the Hegel-Archiv of the University of Bochum. Before coming to Sheffield in 2015, he taught German and comparative literature at the University of Bern in Switzerland.
His Pretexts for Writing (forthcoming from Bucknell UP) is concerned with print culture around 1800, while his current book project looks at cultural history since the eighteenth century through the prism of the figure of the hairdresser. He has edited special editions of German Life and Letters (on German literary anthologies 1700-1850) and Oxford German Studies (on post-war literature and institutions).
Seán Williams publishes in English and in German and is a regular contributor to radio (in both the UK and abroad), and his research has also appeared on television. He is a BBC New Generation Thinker.
The Prokhorov Fellowship scheme, which pre-dates the establishment of the Prokhorov Centre by some years, enables prominent Russian scholars to visit the University and the Centre for a period of 3 to 6 months as research fellows.
To date, these have included Nina Braginskaya, Oxana Gavrishina, and Petr Druzhinin (Russian State University for the Humanities), Nikolai Bogomolov and Igor Pilshchikov (Moscow State University), Jan Levchenko and Oleg Lekmanov (Higher School of Economics, Moscow), Kosnatantin Bogdanov and Alexander Panchenko (Institute of Russian Literature of the Russian Academy of Sciences / Pushkin House), Ilya Kalinin (St Petersburg State University), and Marina Abasheva (Perm State Pedagogical University).
Academic year 2017-18
Vladimir Feshchenko is a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Linguistics of the Russian Academy of Sciences and Deputy Head of the Moscow-based Research and Educational Centre for Communication Studies.
He specialises in theoretical linguistics, linguistic poetics, and semiotics of the avant-garde. Among his publications are two Russian-language monographs – one on language experiments in avant-garde creativity (2009) and one on linguistic aesthetics and the semiotics of art (2014, with O. Koval) – as well as several edited collections of essays. He has also translated a number of Anglo-American modernist texts into Russian, including works by Gertrude Stein, e e cummings, and Wyndham Lewis.
Vladimir Feshchenko is currently working on a project that deals with the question how artistic experience intersects with scientific and philosophical inquiries into the nature of language.
Academic year 2017-18
Anna Razuvalova is a Research Fellow at the Institute of Russian Literature of the Russian Academy of Sciences in St Petersburg. Her research interests lie in late- and post-Soviet culture and in Russian nationalism and neo-conservatism.
She is the author of Pisateli-“derevenschiki”. Literatura i konservativnaya 1970-h godov (Village-Prose Writers: Literature and Conservative Ideology of the 1970s, 2015). Anna Razuvalova is currently working on a project on animal protection in late-Soviet culture.
Academic year 2016-17
Alexander Jakobidze-Gitman is a Faculty member at the University of Witten/Herdecke in Germany and the author of The Rising Phantasms: The Stalinist Era in Post-Soviet Film (New Literary Observer, 2015). He has also worked on the history of ideas and the aesthetics of music.
An accomplished pianist, Alexander Jakobidze-Gitman often combines public lectures with recitals. He is currently working on a project on mechanism as an explanatory model in early-modern musical thought.
Academic year 2016-17
Alexandra Piir works for the journal Antropologicheskij Forum/Forum for Anthropology and Culture, published by the European University at St Petersburg and the Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (Kunstkamera), Russian Academy of Science. Her research interests lie in Soviet studies, urban anthropology, and the anthropology of everyday life.
Alexandra Piir is currently working on the project ‘Leningrad Courtyards: History, Notions, Practices’, an anthropological study of Soviet urban courtyards during the Stalin era.
Academic year 2015-16
Sergey Zenkin, Research Professor at the Russian State University for the Humanities (RGGU) in Moscow. Sergey Zenkin is a specialist in French literature, literary theory, and intellectual history as well as a translator of academic texts from French and English into Russian.
Academic year 2014-15
Margarita Pavlova, Professor of Russian Literature and Senior Researcher at the Manuscript Department of the Institute of Russian Literature (Pushkinskii Dom), Russian Academy of Sciences, and a specialist in Russian symbolism.