Dr John Barber is a historian of Russia in the Soviet and post-Soviet periods at King’s College, Cambridge. His main interests are in social and political history.
The USSR in World War II has been the main focus of John’s research in recent years, particularly the siege of Leningrad. John speaks Russian and shares a strong interest in Russian language and culture.
John has been an active supporter of CamRuSS from its very beginning while helping with organising events and promoting CamRuSS activities among academic circles. John co-organised the Art of Endurance series of visual art/talks/film screenings in 2017 and regularly contributes to the programme of CamRuSS events.
Dr Firuza Melville is a graduate (cum laude) of the Oriental Faculty, St Petersburg State University, where she received her PhD in Persian literature, Art and Islamic Studies.
She has been teaching Persian literature and art at the universities of St Petersburg, and Oxford as University Lecturer and Professor, as well as Visiting Fulbright Professor at Michigan-Ann Arbor and Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton. From 2013 she is Director of Research of the Pembroke Centre for Persian Studies at Cambridge.
Her research interests include Classical and modern Persian literature, Comparative visual interpretation of East-West intertextuality, medieval book art, contemporary Persian and Russian art, British-Russian-Persian diplomacy and royal gift exchange during the Great Game, Art of Soviet and post-Soviet Central Asia and the Caucasus, Russian Orientalism in visual art, literature, music and ballet from Les Ballets Russes until present day.
She and her mother, Professor Mazitova have professional and personal contacts in the Leningrad Siege Survivors Society at the Scholars House in St Petersburg as well as the Russian TV, Culture channel, where they both have participated in the films on the Siege and Griboedov.
Dr Melville joined CamRuSS in 2002 and has been an active supporter of CamRuSS, helping with organising various events in her college and promoting its activities among academic circles. She offered to give several lectures on Russian art and culture (Siege of Leningrad, Bakst, Griboedov). She is currently in charge of the CamRuSS project on Lydia Lopokova and Vladimir Nabokov Prizes. Her successful experience as part of the fundraising campaigns at Wadham, her previous college at Oxford and at Pembroke, Cambridge for the Persian Centre are of particular importance to the Society.
Tanya holds a PhD in Physics from Moscow State University and a PGCE in Secondary Mathematics from the University of Cambridge. She has over 20 years’ experience teaching Mathematics, and occasionally Russian in the secondary and further education sectors in the UK.
Tanya was President of the Cambridge Russian-Speaking Society in the period 2002–2010 and has extensive experience in organising events. She was a member of the Board of Trustees of the Cambridge Russian School in 2015–2019.
She is a Green-badge Cambridge Tourist Guide, and, in addition to her ordinary work as a guide, has done a number of free or especially tailored guided tours for the local Russian-speaking community and for CamRuSS’ guests and invited speakers.
Tanya has taught Russian at all levels (evening classes, tutorial colleges, and summer schools) and launched the annual Residential Russian Summer School for adults in Cambridge in 2016, which she has been coordinating ever since.
Tanya also has experience in translating and interpreting between English and Russian, and helped with interpreting at a few CamRuSS events. As a member of the local amateur theatre ‘Vot Takoy Teatr’ she acted in a number of Russian-language plays that were performed in Cambridge in 2012–2019.
Tanya is able to help and offer occasional support and advice in the following areas:
- PR and advertising;
- Organisation and planning of the cultural programme, search for invited speakers;
- Questions related to teaching Russian and English;
- Organising occasional events in collaboration with other members of the society;
- Walks and guided tours of Cambridge for CamRuSS’ guests, invited speakers and other interested parties.