Ivan Tuchkov: "We can move forward only by relying on the experience of our predecessors"
On September 13, the dean of the Historical Faculty of Moscow State University, head of the Department of Art History, Professor Ivan Ivanovich Tuchkov, turned 60. His life is inextricably linked with the History Faculty, where he was once a student. Vestnik Kavkaza congratulates Ivan Ivanovich on his birthday. Our readers can enjoy an interview with the historian.
- What does the Historical Faculty mean for you?
- It's my life and my destiny. I enrolled, studied, defended my doctoral dissertation and I work there to this day. First of all, I love history, secondly, I love art. This is an opportunity to live the life that I chose for myself, and I'm happy that I have it.
- Do you remember yourself as a student? How did the faculty look at that time?
- The faculty was great, just like today. Perhaps even greater, because when we remember our youth, it seems wonderful and people seem more bright and perfect. But we are trying to maintain the traditions of the History Faculty. I remember my student days. It is, perhaps, not very rational, but you remember yourself as a student, and you think that you are the same right now, even though you already became a teacher.
- Why did you choose Italian Renaissance art history as your specialization?
- I wanted to study it since my childhood. I have loved Italian Renaissance art history since the time I listened to the lectures of my teacher, Victor Nikolaevich Graschenkov. He was an amazing lecturer, a wonderful person, who knew the history of art, the history of culture and the history of literature. His lectures formed an individual and how he looks at the world.
- What problems in the studies of art history are most urgent right now?
- There are two tasks. One of them is fundamental, which has been very important for the university since the creation of the Department of Art History – it is to teach fundamental disciplines, so that the people who come to Moscow State University receive a profound, thorough and complete knowledge of all the processes of art history. But there is a task that is equally important in modern conditions – it is the task of making forms and methods more relevant, creating new courses. Life constantly changes. So we should pay more attention to those artistic processes that are important for the second half of the 20th century-beginning of the 21st century. But there should be a limit, because our knowledge of the art of the past should be a basis for every person. And then he can study old or new art, depending on his inclinations and interests. The modern art process is complex, diverse and varied, so it is necessary to seek new forms of presentation, new approaches, new elements in dialogue with students. We must try to get them interested in this process, so that they have the knowledge, skills and ability to live, work and enjoy their work.
- What qualities should a graduate of the Faculty have to succeed in this profession?
- It's a great joy to find your profession. But in order for luck and happiness to work, you must possess knowledge, know foreign languages and those processes that exist in society and in culture. Recently, we conducted a poll among our graduates, and I was really pleased that almost 80-90% of those who graduated from the Department of Art History found a job in their specialty or close to this specialty – from media to scientific work, to exhibitions, to museums, to galleries. Our graduates are working in many places and this is great. This is our pride and we try to maintain this tradition.
- What traditions of history are the most important for attracting new generations of scholars to this profession?
- Knowledge, skills and even more knowledge. Knowledge inevitably shapes a human character, we grow older after obtaining this knowledge, we become wiser. And most importantly, we become complete human beings in the country where we live. Only the depth of knowledge, the possibility of a complete university education allows a person to fully express himself and find what he should do in life. The foundation, which our university and faculty give, allows people to express themselves.
- What areas of historical science are the most promising?
- Any area is promising and interesting. We face another difficult problem here – people. Any teaching involves a dialogue. A dialogue between the one who speaks at a seminar, who delivers a lecture, and the student. If these two components find contact there will always be a prospect for development. Modern processes inevitably attract people more, they are more in demand. But we can't focus only on that, because the history of the ancient world with its amazing traditions, complexity and diversity gives us the necessary foundation that allows us to analyze modern processes. It's hard to move forward without knowledge. According to Kozma Prutkov, "a specialist is like a flux: his completeness is one-sided." It is understandable that a specialist should have more specific knowledge of the profession he masters. But no humanitarian science can exist without a broader education, and only by harmoniously combining both can you become a full-fledged professional and successfully find a job, a place in life.
- Are all specialities popular among students?
- There are always surges of interest, due to some important events, for example. Something happens in a country, something happens in the world, it inevitably leads to imbalance. But the number of people who are interested in different departments is more or less the same every year. Although there can be short-term changes, the situation is still quite balanced.
- What do you think about the Unified State Exam? Are you for or against it?
- I'm against it. Perhaps this is the position of all classical universities, because this exam forms a desire to memorize something, not to study it. A university provides much more than just knowledge. A university provides you with the ability to study. Because a person studies throughout his entire life, if he wants to fully express himself. The ability to study is necessary. The Unified State Exam does not provide that. It provides a narrower range of knowledge. It is clear that this exam is democratic, it makes all people equal, it provides everyone with the opportunity enter university and build a future career. But it still does not provide enough knowledge, does not provide the ability to study, which is necessary for future life. The overall level of education is getting lower because of it, I think. Because a person just studies a fact, and he doesn't try to study its causes.
- What is the role of your faculty in the life of the entire university?
- This faculty is one of the oldest in the university, any humanitarian knowledge is associated with history to a greater or lesser extent. That's why the faculty has a prominent role in the life of the university. Our teachers work at many faculties, because a knowledge of history is necessary for many specialists. So both historians and the faculty are in demand.
- What separates the university and the faculty from others in the world?
- The life of Moscow State University is huge. The life of such a big, such a multidisciplinary, multifaceted complex institution is inevitably defined by the challenges of modern times (we need to answer them) and traditions. The traditions of Moscow State University are represented by the dedicated work of our teachers, by fundamental education, by the motivation of students coming from different faculties but creating unity. The university is unity. Unity is impossible without the people who work and study here. The traditions of Moscow State University are kind, good, durable, they must be maintained and cultivated. This is always done by the leadership of Moscow State University, which allows this uniqueness to be maintained. Each university has its own face. Each university has its own traditions, its outstanding teachers, its scientific schools. All of this provides the strength to maintain traditions, to move forward, to evolve. We can move forward only by relying on the experience of our predecessors. You can't discard past experience, we must always take it into account. Only then can we move forward.
To be continued