Edward Tyerman, Internationalist Aesthetics: China and Early Soviet Culture. Columbia University Press, 2021.
Edward Tyerman’s Internationalist Aesthetic. China and Early Soviet Culture offers an extraordinarily detailed and nuanced exploration of Sino-Soviet cultural encounters during the 1920s, within a historical perspective. Working with a fascinating array of sources, Tyerman explores fundamental issues of new subjectivity, aesthetic forms, and political expression as envisioned by cultural agents in China and in the Soviet Union at the moment when these countries were fostering new connections in the present, while reframing the past and seeking alternative models for the future. In the spirit of its main protagonist, Sergei Tretyakov, writer, journalist, scholar, member of LEF (the Left Front of the Arts), this monograph aspires to see beyond straightforward political agendas and resists the fetishization of China as an adjacent but distant “other.” Following Tretyakov’s career trajectory and alluding to the works of his many contemporaries, each chapter presents compelling close readings of different media, including the documentary short story, poetry, ballet, film, and mediated autobiography. In discussing aesthetic works in their rich socio-historical context, Tyerman pays special attention to successes as well as failures in collaboration and translation. Engagingly told, compellingly illustrated, and intellectually rich, Internationalist Aesthetic not only opens new insights into the history of the 1920s, but also offers new models of studying collaborative internationalist knowledge production, which encompasses multiple cultural agents and perspectives.
Marko Dumančić, Men Out of Focus. Toronto University Press, 2021.
In Men Out of Focus, Marko Dumančić works at the intersections of film studies, cultural
history, sociology, and gender studies to offer bold conclusions about the status of masculinity during the Thaw period. Turning away from familiar discussions of the effects of World War II on Soviet gender relations, Dumančić instead draws our attention to the consequences of modernity with its “mass consumerism, (sub)urbanization, technological revolution, and the democratization of the public space” (8). Broad in scope and meticulous in detail, this book helps us understand how masculinity could be framed as both powerful and fragile at the same time. The book includes a thorough overview of the debates over masculinity in the postwar period, an analysis of the changing discourse of fatherhood, the new variations on the age-old problem of “fathers and sons,” and the challenges posed by modern womanhood, all buttressed by theoretically-informed close readings of Soviet films from the time. Particularly noteworthy is a chapter on masculinity and Soviet science: the culture fostered a vast love of science along with a deep suspicion of scientists themselves. Men Out of Focus is an invaluable contribution to both film studies and the growing scholarship on Soviet masculinity.
Colleen Lucey, Love for Sale: Representing Prostitution in Imperial Russia. Northern Illinois University Press, 2021.
Colleen Lucey’s intriguing monograph offers new perspectives on Imperial Russia’s debates over prostitution and the cultural products that depicted the sexually transgressive women of St. Petersburg. Viewed within the context of economies of exchange, this book begins with state-regulated prostitution and charts various types of transactional sex until the first years of the twentieth century (1840s to 1905). Whether the fallen woman, the brothel worker, the demimondaine, the dowerless bride or the kept woman, Love for Sale: Representing Prostitution in Imperial Russia convincingly interrogates a variety of sexual commerce and sundry types of erotic behavior. St. Petersburg acts as the central location of both sexual fulfillment and deviant perversion; the epicenter of sexual licentiousness. Lucey takes this wonderful study beyond the walls of the brothel and the city streets to examine how prostitution was perceived to threaten the sanctity of marriage, disrupt the traditional roles of wife and mother, and prompt a distrust of female entrepreneurs. Drawing on both literary texts and visual sources, Love for Sale captures how the commodification of love was part of the larger disruption of Russian bourgeois society during a period of rapid modernization and Westernization.
Theory in the “Post” Era: A Vocabulary for the 21st-Century Conceptual Commons, ed. by Alexandru Matei, Christian Moraru, and Andrei Terian. Bloomsbury, 2021.
Theory in the “Post” Era: A Vocabulary for the 21st-Century Conceptual Commons stands out as an original and wide-ranging yet unified collection of sophisticated explorations of a complex intellectual phenomenon that the volume tackles in a consistently responsible, thought-provoking manner.
János Székely, Temptation, trans. by Mark Baczoni. New York Review of Books, 2020.
Mark Baczoni has given English-language readers a great gift in translating János Székely’s rollicking lost classic Temptation (Kísértés) into English for 21st century readers. Baczoni has produced a marvelously readable rendering of of Székely’s sparkling, sardonic prose; in his hands the narrative races along, offering us a delightfully exhilarating reading experience. Throughout the novel’s nearly 700 pages, Baczoni ably switches from drama to comedy and back, via poems, songs, and a great deal of lively dialogue, all interspersed with social and political commentary: a most enjoyable and rewarding read, and an admirable feat of translation.
Language Contact in the Territory of the Former Soviet Union. ed. Diana Forker & Lenore A. Grenoble. John Benjamins, 2021.
Forker and Grenoble’s Language Contact in the Territory of the Former Soviet Union is an exciting edited volume for readers interested in contact linguistics in general or languages of the former Soviet Union (USSR) in particular. The editors note that the linguistic situation of the former USSR in which a dominant Russian language was in extensive contact with the many languages spoken on its territory has furnished linguists with invaluable data on language contact. Their introductory chapter provides important background information on Soviet and Post-Soviet language policies and sketches out the book’s theoretical landscapes. The twelve articles that follow analyze language contact at all linguistic levels and detail a range of outcomes. A final chapter provides a guide to the sixty-six languages addressed in the volume along with relevant maps. Forker and Grenoble’s curation of these diverse contributions has resulted in a unique volume that interrogates the role of sociolinguistic context in language contact, while taking the reader on a geographically and linguistically diverse intellectual journey.
Note: The committee decided to present two awards in the Pedagogy category this year, as it was skipped during the last cycle.
Etazhi: Second Year Russian Language and Culture. by Evgeny Dengub and Susanna Nazarova. Georgetown University Press, 2021.
Etazhi offers a fresh and communicatively oriented option for second-year Russian. The authors deserve praise for their persistent focus on authentic and purposeful communication: all chapters include authentic and engaging texts authored by native Russian speakers from across the Russian Federation on a variety of topics pertinent to Russian society and culture, including daily life, travel, dating and marriage, clothing, cuisine, health and medicine, education, holiday traditions, and careers. Authentic photographs and images further promote the textbook’s immersiveness and will undoubtedly delight visual learners. Moreover, Russian language learners are likely to be inspired by texts contributed by their more advanced peers: learner voices add an exciting dimension to the textbook and offer valuable cultural comparison, insights, and humor. Evgeny Dengub and Susanna Nazarova’s extensive experiences in the classroom are demonstrated in a pedagogically sound, systematic design of extensive exercise sets for each chapter supporting all language skills and enabling students to internalize new linguistic and cultural knowledge in a production-oriented approach. Etazhi presents an exciting and modern option for Russian language instructors and learners working toward the Intermediate Mid to Intermediate High proficiency level.
Transformative Language Learning and Teaching. ed. Betty Lou Leaver, Dan Davidson, and Christine Campbell. Cambridge University Press, 2021.
Leaver, Davidson, and Campbell’s Transformative Language Learning and Teaching is a groundbreaking volume on the theory and practice of transformative teaching in the language learning context. The world language education field has experienced many methodological upheavals corresponding to theoretical or practical paradigms over the past century. The editors of this volume distill these changes into three large patterns whose practices are based on educational philosophies the primary paradigm of which encompasses three elements:transmission, in which information flows unidirectionally from teacher to learner, resulting in rote memory, reproduction, and accuracy; (2) transaction, in which information flows bidirectionally between teacher and learner and among learners, resulting in associative memory, higher-order thinking, and proficiency; and (3) transformation, in which information flows multidirectionally within and beyond the classroom, resulting in critical and creative thinking, as well as personal change. This volume takes the larger educational movement of transformative learning and teaching—a movement relevant to the full range of disciplines taught at any level — and examines its applications in the learning and teaching of world languages. Building on the pedagogical frameworks of the Proficiency Guidelines (and their European cousin, the Common European Reference Framework), as well as the WorldReadiness Standards for Language Learning and substantial research on language learning outcomes in different paradigms and for different purposes, the authors contributing to this volume paint a picture of the impact and potential impact of restructuring world language curricula to focus on transformative learning experiences. The volume’s contributions point the way for classroom practitioners to develop and implement new learning tasks that engage learners not only in studying the target language and culture(s) but also in transforming themselves as they do so, enhancing their own sense of compassion and global citizenship as well as their motivation to continue studying the target language after a semester of instruction ends. This volume has the potential to change our classroom practices and to have an enormous impact on the world language education of all students.