Abstracts for Fall 2001 (Volume 60, Number 3)
Stephanie Sandler, "Scared into Selfhood: The Poetry of Inna Lisnianskaia, Elena Shvarts, Ol'ga Sedakova
Sandler analyzes the poetry of three contemporary Russian women poets, focusing on one poem by each poet from the late Soviet period. Using psychoanalytical theory and philosophical theories of the sublime, she assesses how fear creates a sense of self for each poet. In all the texts examined, the poet's self is shattered in order to be built up again. Poetic identity means a writer's identity, particularly to Sedakova and Lisnianskaia, and all three poets find a sense of self by resisting some conventional notions of the woman poet.
Nadya L. Peterson, "The Private 'I' in the Works of Nina Berberova"
This article aims to identify prevalent concerns and anxieties informing Berberova's works, whether designated as fiction, biography, fictionalized history, or autobiography; to observe what is hidden behind the public facade of the autobiographical self; and to determine how the fictional and the autobiographical are connected in the writer's narratives. Berberova's autobiography, as well as her fictional and biographical writings, provide a fertile ground for investigating the author's frame of reference from the point of view of her gender. A close look at the nature of autobiography, with its careful construction of a public self, offers insight into the way Berberova wants others to see her. Paying attention to the struggle for physical and spiritual survival, the focus of Berberova's writing in general, affords an understanding of what the author deems necessary in order to overcome the hardships of emigration, the challenges of failed relationships, and the hazards of being a woman writer. Berberova's connections with men and women in her life--described by herself, seen by others, reflected in her fiction--all point to a pivotal concern with the strengths and weaknesses of her own gender.
Greta N. Slobin, "The 'Homecoming' of the First Wave Diaspora and Its Cultural Legacy"
The return of the first wave émigrés' cultural legacy at a critical juncture of postcommunist transformation in 1990s Russia presents a case study of a dialogue between the diaspora and the homeland. The belated encounter of shared national traditions reveals a history of competing cultural monopolies, incongruous resemblances, and matching nostalgias. Contemporary diaspora and postcolonial studies in the west have addressed such key issues as diaspora's self-definition in relation to the homeland, its strategies of resistance and accommodation, and transnational networks. The first part of the article presents a brief survey of Russia Abroad, its internal discourse concerning its legacy and the dream of return after Iosif Stalin's death. The second part considers the emerging field of diaspora studies in Russia, focusing on the dynamics of its reception, appropriation, and domestication. The range of partisan responses to the ‚migr‚ legacy is considered a touchstone for the current debates concerning Russian national and cultural identity.
Roumen Daskalov, "Modern Bulgarian Society and Culture through the Mirror of Bai Ganio"
This article deals with the fictional character Bai Ganio, who was created by the Bulgarian writer Aleko Konstantinov at the end of the nineteenth century and who has become a sort of national symbol in Bulgarian society and culture. Daskalov presents the various interpretations of Bai Ganio, explores their assumptions and implicit meanings, and then employs the character to illuminate some of the major problems and concerns within Bulgarian society. Metaphorically one might say that the various interpretations of Bai Ganio serve as a mirror for a modernizing Bulgaria or, even better, that Bai Ganio and Bulgaria mutually reflect each other. Yet although the mirror retains the trace of the mirrored object, it obfuscates and distorts it.
David L. Ransel, William G. Wagner, Willard Sunderland, Steven L. Hoch, and Boris Mironov, Forum on Boris Mironov's "Sotsial'naia istoriia Rossii"
A forum on Boris Mironov's Russian and English editions of The Social History of Imperial Russia, 1700-1917 (2000) offers the comments of four scholars on different aspects of Mironov's work. David L. Ransel introduces the forum with a consideration of whether Russian and western historical scholarship has been or should be converging, and he reviews the Russian-language response to Mironov's book. William G. Wagner discusses Mironov's key conclusions: that the imperial period was marked by the development of a more individualistic personality, the democratic nuclear family, civil society, and a state order based on the rule of law. He questions, however, the validity of the modernization paradigm as an adequate tool for analyzing these developments. Willard Sunderland comments on the use of the concept of empire in Mironov's book, calling attention to the assertion that imperial Russia was a "normal" European state and that it was not a "true colonial state." The focus of the book, he argues, remains Russian society within the space of the empire, not the society of the empire as a whole. Steven L. Hoch considers Mironov's chapter on demographic processes, criticizing the use of demographic theory and its application to problems such as fertility and mortality. He also argues that Mironov accepts too uncritically the utility of the statistical data at hand. Boris Mironov responds to Wagner, Sunderland, and Hoch in turn.