Kazan Federal University

Maginur Fayzullina, first woman philologist in Tatarstan

KFU continues publishing stories about its most prominent scholars of the past.

Yelabuga Pedagogical Institute, now known as KFU’s Yelabuga Institute, was established in 1953 and counted mere 22 teachers. Among them was Maginur Fayzullina (1901 – 1983), by then already a renowned scientist and literary critic. Three years later, she became Chair of the Department of Tatar Philology at the Institute.

Born in Atbasar, Kazakhstan, she worked as a teacher from an early age in several cities across the nation, including Moscow. In all those places, she taught Tatar language and literature. In 1925, Fayzullina published her first children’s book in Tatar.

She enrolled in Kazan Pedagogical Institute (now KFU’s Institute of Psychology and Education) in late 1920s and then entered a PhD course. Her thesis was dedicated to Gabdulla Tukay (1886 – 1913), widely considered to be the most famous and culturally influential Tatar poet. She thus became the first Tatar woman to receive a doctoral degree in philology.

She spent most of her life educating in Yelabuga. Among her friends and correspondents was Tatar poet and war hero Musa Jalil – she was instrumental in restoring his reputation and legacy after the Great Patriotic War; for several years, the deceased Jalil was under investigation because of having been kept and executed in Nazi captivity. Prominent Tatar writer Abdurakhman Absalyamov was her student and dedicated one of his novels, The Green River Bank, to her.

Dr Fayzullina retired in 1976 but continued to conduct research and publish papers. Her many Kazanian friends, including poets, writers, and musicians, frequented her home in Yelabuga.

For her contributions to education and mentorship of younger generations, Fayzullina was posthumously named Distinguished Citizen of Yelabuga in 1994.

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