Profile: Dr Nariman Skakov
Dr Nariman Skakov (2004, MPhil European Literature & DPhil Medieval and Modern Languages) is Associate Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures at Harvard University. He is the author of The Cinema of Tarkovsky: Labyrinths of Space and Time (2012) and has just completed a major new monograph, Reorientalism: From Avant-Garde to National Form.
How did you come to study an MPhil in European Literature at Univ?
I came to Oxford in 2003 as a visiting student and it was a formative experience. Dr Michael Nicholson was supervising me during my first year and to apply for a place at Univ was an easy decision. The two-year MPhil was an ideal program for me that helped me to transition into the field of the humanities.
How do you think you changed from the first moment you stepped through Univ’s doors to your graduation?
College quickly became my home and I was lucky to be able to have very personal relationships. I warmly recollect my interactions with Angela at Stavs (she was my scout and then became the manager of the whole complex) or with Bob Maskell (head porter). Having James “Dusty” Miller, a former head porter, put a graduation gown on me during the ceremony was meaningful. “Here you are, my boy,” he said. It felt like a perfect farewell.
What convinced you to become an academic?
I always had a strong emotional reaction to art. An urge to understand what prompts it and how art operates made me want to become an academic.
Have you faced any challenges in your life that you are willing to share here?
The passing of my parents was a challenging experience to face. Having my sister Indira by my side and now my beloved nephew Radimir tremendously helped. But this kind of experiences still have to be simply endured through. Meditation, which I started practicing while at Univ, was certainly a helpful practice to cultivate an understanding that everything passes, and this is the law of nature.
What is it about your current work that excites you?
Probably the fact that I deal with largely neglected texts and visual artefacts, produced by iconic modernists, from the tumultuous period of Soviet history (1930-40s). Exploring the “margins” of the canon is exciting.
Do you have any advice for postgraduate students?
Really strong work ethic is something that needs to be cultivated. Remember that the martlet is an allegory for continuous effort!
Describe Univ in three words.
Martlet, martlet, martlet
Photos: Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer
Published: 2 November 2020