HSE – An Ideal Choice for History Students
Samrat Sil, a student from Presidency University in Kolkata, India is currently studying on the Master’s programme in Applied and Interdisciplinary History at HSE St. Petersburg. The programme focuses on the analytical part of history and how it can be used and applied in our day to day life. It comprises a wide variety of crucial topics like memory, identity narratives and the use of sources in history and historiography. It also focuses on heritage and its relation to history and economy. The students are encouraged to develop their own research topics for their Master’s thesis.
In an interview with the HSE News Service, Samrat told us about his studies and the reasons why he would recommend every history student to take the opportunity to head to HSE St. Petersburg.
— Samrat, you are currently studying at HSE in St. Petersburg. Is Russia a popular destination among Indian students? Why did you decide to come to Russia?
— It's a very popular destination among Indian students, especially among medical students, but, as far as I know, I'm the first who came to St. Petersburg to study history. St. Petersburg is famous for its museums and historical sites, so if you’re a history student, this is the place to be!
— Tell us about your first impressions of St. Petersburg.
— This is my first time in Russia, as well as my first experience abroad. I’m thrilled to be here; the city and its architecture are amazing. I like to venture out and discover more about my surroundings, so I have already been to many places, like Kazan Cathedral, Isaac's cathedral and many Russian museums.
— How has your perception of Russia changed while being here?
— Back in India, people generally think that Russia is a cold place with cold people, but when I met them, my perception changed totally. They are open, warm and sociable. Russians are interested in the surrounding world and they love to show off their own culture, as well. As an Indian, I was fascinated to see Russian culture.
I also discovered that many Russians are interested in Indian culture, too. This has been such an amazing cultural experience. I have learnt something new every day, not only at the university, but also in everyday life.
The education process here is very engaging; you learn more about the basic concepts. My historical knowledge is increasing; I'm opening myself up to new topics and conversations
— Was it hard to adjust to a new culture and environment?
— Honestly, yes, it was. I don't really speak Russian, so it was hard to get used to the new conditions during my first few weeks. But once you overcome the language barrier, it becomes a lot easier.
— What do you like the most about your studies at HSE? How does the Russian higher education system differ from the Indian system?
— I love my studies at HSE. In Russia, I'm more engaged in the study process and student activities. In India we have a lot of lectures, after which we have to pass examinations. Studies in Russia are more interactive than in India; here we regularly have conversations, seminars and meetings, and the discussion often continues outside the classroom. Higher education in Russia is about learning from each other!
— How did you hear about our university and the MA programme in history?
— I was looking for a university where I could do my Masters' degree, when I saw your site on the Internet, I discussed it with one of the professors in my school and he said that Russia is a place where you can learn more about history.
— Do you think that studying at HSE will boost your career prospects?
— Absolutely. The education process here is very engaging; you learn more about the basic concepts. My historical knowledge is increasing; I'm opening myself up to new topics and conversations.
— What advice would you give to any international students who want to study at HSE?
— Take the opportunity! You really must see St. Petersburg at least once in your lifetime. In addition, HSE offers brilliant courses. If you're a history student, HSE should be your number one destination!
— What are you going to do in the future? Could you, for example, see yourself working in Russia?
— I'm going to finish my Master’s degree studies and I'm also thinking about some research projects offered by HSE. I would also like to do an internship in a Russian museum.
I can see myself working in Russia in one or two years. Maybe at the Hermitage - that's my target!
Prepared by Ida Salomaa, CIMO Trainee at the Centre for International Cooperation, HSE St. Petersburg
Alexandra Kolesnik, Junior Research Fellow and Senior Lecturer at HSE’s Poletayev Institute for Theoretical and Historical Studies in the Humanities recently completed her post graduate studies in History and successfully defended her PhD thesis entitled ‘Historical representations in British popular musical culture of the 1960-1980s’. Here, Alexandra talks about her research into modern pop-culture.
Jessica Werneke, who completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Iowa and her PhD at the University of Texas at Austin, joined the International Centre for the History and Sociology of World War II and its Consequences as a Research Fellow in 2016. Originally from Chicago, Illinois, she has spent a considerable amount of time living internationally – in both the UK and Latvia – and following her post-doc plans to start a new position as a Newton International Fellow of the British Academy at Loughborough University, where she will continue her research on Soviet photography clubs and amateur photographers in the RSFSR and the Baltic Republics.
The October Revolution created a new cinema. At first, 'the most important of all arts' struggled to keep up with social transformations and was not yet used as a weapon in the fight for a communist culture. But the mid-1920s, an innovative, cutting-edge film industry had emerged from sources such as theatre, street performance, posters, poetry and circus shows. This industry was able to do what the politicians had failed to achieve, namely trigger a world revolution.
On October 11, Professor Dominic Lieven of the University of Cambridge, where he serves as Senior Research Fellow, Trinity College, gave a public lecture at HSE St Petersburg entitled ‘Reflections on empire, Russia and historical comparison’. The event was organized by the Center for Historical Research.
A hundred years has passed since the October Revolution of 1917, but this event still hasn’t reached its logical conclusion. Its consequences are still crucial in defining the political system in Russia today and fostering divisions in society, believes Andrey Medushevsky, Professor at the HSE Faculty of Social Sciences, political scientist, historian and author of the book A Political History of the Russian Revolution: Norms, Institutions and Forms of Social Mobilization in the 20th Century.
Department of History at HSE St. Petersburg is focusing on a global, comparative and transnational approach to historical studies, and cooperates with several European and American research centers. One of its primary partners is German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), which sponsors a position of an Associate Professor for a German scholar, and Dietmar Wulff, the current resident, told The HSE Look about his three years at the department and plans for the future.
On October 10, Stephen Wheatcroft, Professor of the School of Historical Studies at the University of Melbourne delivered a lecture on ‘The importance of the grain problem in the Russian Revolution and for the next 40 years of Soviet Economics' at HSE Moscow as part of a long and busy schedule. A participant at previous April Conferences at HSE, Professor Wheatcroft is one of the world’s foremost experts on Soviet social, economic and demographic history, as well as famine and food supply problems in modern world history.
Samrat Sil is a recent graduate of the English-taught Master's programme in Applied and Interdisciplinary History ‘Usable Pasts’ at HSE St. Petersburg. David Datmar, a native of Ghana, decided to join the programme to help him prepare for eventual study at the PhD level, which he plans to undertake soon at the University of Oxford. Both gentlemen were recently awarded certificates of recognition for their role as ambassadors contributing to the university’s internationalization agenda.
International Centre for the History and Sociology of World War II and Its Consequences, Higher School of Economics and The Friedrich Ebert Foundation held 'A Memory Revolution’: Soviet History Through the Lens of Personal Documents' in Moscow on 7-8 June, 2017. The conference brought together distinguished historians and sociologists from across the globe. Michael David-Fox, Professor of History, Georgetown University, and Academic Advisor of HSE International Center for the History and Sociology of World War II and Its Consequences shares his reflections and considerations on the main topic and discussions at the conference and his own research
On May 31, Valerie Kivelson, Professor of History at the University of Michigan, will be delivering a seminar entitled ‘Visualizing Empire: Muscovite Images of Race’. Professor Kivelson is an expert in Medieval and early modern Russia, history of cartography, history of witchcraft, religion, and political culture, among other topics. She is the author of 'Desperate Magic: The Moral Economy of Witchcraft in Seventeenth Century Russia' and a guest editor of 'Witchcraft Casebook: Magic in Russia, Poland and Ukraine. 15-21st Centuries'.