Book Prize Winners for 2002
Best Contribution to Language Pedagogy 2002:
ACTR. Business Russian (1999). http://www.russnet.org/home.html
The Business Russian web site developed under the auspices of Russnet is a well-designed and user-friendly series of business-related modules for novice, intermediate and advanced learners. The modules were based on the textbook Russkyj jazyk v delevom obshchenii
by Klobukova, Mikhalkina, Soltanovskaja, and Khavronina (ed. Dan Davidson, Washington, D.C.: ACTR/ACCELS, 1997). The modules themselves are complete, but continue to be enhanced with real-life case studies for users at higher levels of proficiency. The site also contains a video clip from a lecture on how to use the related textbook by one of its authors. The activities in the modules are based on textual, visual and aural prompts which focus on the development of business vocabulary and basic grammar. A preliminary module introduces users to reading and typing the Cyrillic alphabet. A Russian-English dictionary offers translations for select vocabulary words. The site is designed to be used either as part of a class or for individual study.Its online format makes it available to everyone and helps fill a void in Russian programs which do not have the resources to offer courses in Business Russian. At a time when economic and business ties between Russia and the West are on the rise, this site provides a valuable contribution to an important area of Russian language pedagogy.
Best Book in Linguistics 2002:
Marc L. Greenberg. A Historical Phonology of the Slovene Language. Heidelberg, DE: Universitatsverlag C. Winter, 2000.
Professor Greenberg's monograph, A Historical Phonology of the Slovene Language, is a major contribution to the Carl Winter series in Slavic historical linguistics and an outstanding work of Slavic dialectology. On the basis of new language data and carefully constructed linguistic arguments, it presents a new interpretation of historical language change in Slovene and the development of its complex and diverse variants. The book is noteworthy for the author's command of the material, meticulous analysis, and quality of argumentation. It is a major advance in our understanding of this important, but often neglected, Slavic linguistic area.
Best Book in Literary/Cultural Scholarship 2002:
Note from the Publications Committee: due to a tie between two very strong nominees, the committee decided to award two prizes in this category this year.
Dale E. Peterson. Up from Bondage: The Literatures of Russian and African American Soul. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2000.
Dale Peterson's book will surprise and delight readers with its elaboration of the provocative parallel trajectories taken by these two literary and philosophical traditions. Peterson traces the comparable quests of Russian and African American writers -- themselves members of the Westernized elites within their respective native cultures -- to convey the nation's "soul," as embodied by the oral culture of the enslaved and illiterate masses, and thereby to assert cultural significance in opposition to the European West's dismissive assessment. Through dazzling juxtapositions of intellectual figures such as Chaadaev and Crummell, Dostoevsky and DuBois, Turgenev and Chestnutt, Gorky and Wright, Rasputin and Naylor, Peterson illuminates the problematic but productive phenomenon of Bakhtinian "double-voicedness" and self conscious hybridity. As Peterson so astutely points out, this very dividedness enabled writers to bridge the cultural divide separating the Russian and African-American indigenous sensibilitiesfrom established Western traditions of art and thought. Peterson's study represents intellectual history at its finest, offering readers a new perspective on canonical figures in Russian and American literary history, and encouraging us to think in broader interdisciplinary terms about our cultural fields of interest. Peterson has made a generous gift to both Russian and African American literary studies in opening this rich field for sustained study, and fellow scholars will surely be inspired by his example to undertake similarly bold synthesizing projects.
Gabriella Safran. Rewriting the Jew: Assimilation Narratives in the Russian Empire. Stanford, Cal.: Stanford University Press, 2000.
Rewriting the Jew: Assimilation Narratives in the Russian Empire
is an ambitious contribution to Russian and Jewish cultural and literary studies. Perceived as both intractably alien and potentially open to redefinition--through conversion and/or assimilation,-- the Jewish minority in Russia, Safran persuasively demonstrates, became a focal point for conflicting paradigms of human nature and nationhood in a multi-cultural empire. The "Jewish Question" emerges from Safran's compelling analyses as a challenge to stable notions of identity, which spurred Jewish and gentile writers alike to critical engagement with the aesthetic and ideological assumptions operating at the center of the nineteenth-century tradition. Realism's confidence in the power of literary type and narrative to inspire the composition of real biographies, liberal advocacy of rational self-fashioning and the formation of citizens through the influence of textual models, and an ascendent Romantic belief in a racially immutable self and national allegiance meet and vie over the figure of the Jew. Safran's juxtaposition of Grigory Bogrov, the Russian-speaking Jew whose "Zapiski evreia" introduced the narrative of acculturation to mainstream literature, with the Polish Positivist and nationalist Eliza Orzeszkowa, Leskov, and Chekhov, is a bold gamble which pays off. Rewriting the Jew
enriches and reconfigures the map of nineteenth-century culture, shedding new light on both the dominant tradition and Jewish experience.
Best Translation into English 2002:
Robert Bird, trans., Michael Wachtel, Ed. Selected Essays, by Viacheslav Ivanov. Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern University Press, 2001.
Robert Bird's and Michael Wachtel's Selected Essays
by Viacheslav Ivanov represents the state of the art in both scholarship and translation, and is sure to become the definitive collection of Ivanov's essays in English. The volume contains Ivanov's most important prose works, including many essays appearing in English for the first time. The brilliant translation does justice to the intellectual complexity, the poetic spirit, and the erudition of the seminal thinker of the Russian Symbolist movement. The volume is beautifully edited, with a thorough introduction that establishes Ivanov's place in Russian literary and intellectual history, and a wealth of meticulous annotations. The notes-a work of art in themselves-introduce each individual essay, explain intricacies of language and terminology, show the development of Ivanov's writing, and illuminate the author's many references to philosophy, mythology, religion, and poetry. This marvelous book offers that rarest of combinations: intellectual rigor and perfect pitch.