Streams: AATSEEL annual conference Washington, DC, February 1-4, 2018

In addition to regular conference panels and events, the program will now include panel streams. These streams will promote greater cohesion among conference panels and foster a broader dialogue throughout the conference. The result can be a series of mini-conferences within the framework of our larger conference. There will be two stream sessions (“A” and “B”). The panels in each session will meet simultaneously, so members may apply for no more than one “A” stream and one “B” stream. All conference attendees are welcome to attend stream panels, but participants in a stream are expected to attend all of the panels in their stream.

Complete descriptions can be found below.

Stream 1A: Lower-level language instruction: issues, strategies, techniques
Stream 2A: Nabokov
Stream 3A: Mimesis in Russian Art and Aesthetic Theory
Stream 4A: Russian-Language Poetry in Transition
Stream 5A: Character Archetypes in the Soviet Cinema of the Post-Thaw Era
Stream 6A: Corpora in Linguistic Research and Language Teaching

Stream 1B: Tolstoevsky
Stream 2B: Early Soviet Children’s Literature as Contested Site: Challenges of the Past and Strategies for the Future
Stream 3B: Reading in Russia
Stream 4B: Translation
Stream 5B: Learning trajectory of Russian second language learners: addressing linguistic, curricular and motivational needs at various proficiency levels
Stream 6B: The Political in Contemporary Russian Culture

Stream # 1A
Lower-level language instruction: issues, strategies, techniques
Organizer: Katya Nemtchinova

A study of a foreign language begins with the basic vocabulary and grammar to open the door to a new language and culture and help students achieve a variety of learning goals. To ensure that the pursuit of the language continues beyond the first year, instructors are always looking for ways to increase their learners’ interest and motivation by providing meaningful information and contextualized practice. This panel stream will explore a number of important research and practical issues pertinent to the lower-level language classroom. The topics addressed by the stream range from facilitation of linguistic, communicative, and intercultural competence to assessment and evaluation to effective ways of incorporating technology into everyday class activities. How do principles of feminist pedagogy and assessment apply to the elementary level classroom? How can the implementation of STARTALK principles (standards-based curriculum, a learner-centered setting, the use of target language and provide comprehensible input, integration of language, culture, and content; incorporation of authentic materials and content, and performance-based assessment) lead to significant gains in content knowledge, language proficiency, and intercultural skills? What are the benefits and challenges of language games in the first-year classroom from the constructivist perspective on second language acquisition? A wide range of topics and a combination of research conclusions and practical suggestions presented by panelists will appeal to a wide range of practitioners in the field. Contribute to the body of knowledge the demanding task of teaching elementary-level

Stream # 2A
Organizers: Stephen Blackwell, Eric Naiman, Luke Parker, Thomas Seifrid

We plan to put together three panels, all dedicated in one way or another to the work of Vladimir Nabokov.  We encourage submissions from both Slavists and literary scholars working exclusively with the English texts. Comparative projects are also welcome. We would like, at this and future meetings of AATSEEL, to focus attention on under-studied works by Nabokov. For 2018, in addition to one or more general panels, we would hope to put together a panel on either the short story "Sounds" (Звуки) or Transparent Things, or both.

Stream # 3A
Mimesis in Russian Art and Aesthetic Theory
Organizers: Tatyana Gershkovich and Chloë Kitzinger

In the Poetics, Aristotle gave shape to the idea of the mimetic artwork as a fiction: the representation of an action, with the power to intellectually and emotionally engage its audience independently of fidelity to the factual truth. Understood in this way, a mimetic work entails both “world-creation” and “world-imitation” – it is at once a self-enclosed fictional heterocosm, and a depiction of a world knowable outside itself (cf. S. Halliwell, The Aesthetics of Mimesis, 2002). Russian literature, art, and aesthetic theory have long been marked by an acute tension between these two faces of mimesis. This tension has social and experiential implications that we hope to continue exploring in the second year of this stream. 

Participants might consider mimesis in relation to Russian's social formations. When political, cultural, and institutional circumstances give art and literature a strong claim to authority about reality and the inner 'truth' of things, how does the fictional and aesthetic status of mimetic art become – implicitly or explicitly – problematic? Alternatively or in addition, they might tackle problems pertaining to aesthetic experience as such, especially as these problems have taken shape in the context of Russian art, literature, and aesthetic theory. How does mimesis engage the various facets of our aesthetic experience, including emotion, cognition, and creative play? Some other possible topics include: utopian visions in realist texts; the interplay between visual and verbal mimesis; the relationship between mimetic and ethical capacity in both artists and spectators; “aesthetic” and “radical” critics’ conceptions of realism and verisimilitude; and questions about the ideal experience and effect of the mimetic work of art -- as envisioned in the aesthetic theories of writers from Belinsky, Chernyshevsky, Dobroliubov, and Pisarev to Tolstoy, Viach. Ivanov, Nabokov, and Bakhtin, or as woven into mimetic works themselves, from the realist prose of Turgenev, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, or Chekhov, to the realist painting of the peredvizhniki, to twentieth-century works of Symbolism, socialist realism, and beyond.

Stream #4A
Russian-Language Poetry in Transition
Organizers: Stephanie Sandler and Henrieke Stahl

Poetry has experienced unexpected popularity and a surge in productivity since the end of the 20th century. People of all social groups, age groups, languages, and cultures are not only reading poetry but also writing it. By taking advantage of new possibilities in media and communication, Russian-language poetry has spread across a transnational field, engaging other languages and nationally defined literatures. The borders of genres and its functions are being transformed in a remarkable way. Caused by the challenges of Perestroika on the one hand and by the postmillennial digital means of communication as well as social and political conditions on the other, the complexity of contemporary Russian-language poetry requires a rethinking of theoretical and methodological tools. The proposed stream investigates this research area, spanning a period from the beginning of the Perestroika (1985) to the present. The guiding question is transition, a key feature of contemporary poetry, in its multiple forms and functions. In contemporary poetry, transition refers specifically to three types of boundary, corresponding to three panels of the stream: boundaries between genres, cultures, and media. Each of these three terms will set the terms for one of our three panels, and we hope for interaction among the terms across the three panels.

Stream # 5A
Character Archetypes in the Soviet Cinema of the Post-Thaw Era
Organizer: Marina Rojavin

This stream will focus on characters in the Soviet cinema of the Stagnation—the time of loneliness, disappointment, and individual despair that permeated the Brezhnev-era absurdity. Many films of the 70s-80s show a new type of character—an anti-hero/anti-heroine, neither negative nor positive, who deconstructs the Soviet norm of behavior, lifestyle, and perspective. The film characters of this period challenge and subvert social and cultural convention with regards to the relationship between family members, friends, co-workers, and a teacher and his students, as in: Afonya (dir. Georgiy Daneliya, 1975), Other People’s Letters (Chuzhie Pis’ma, dir. I. Averbakh, 1976), September Vacation (Otpusk v sentiabre, dir. V. Mel’nikov, 1979), Flights in Dreams and in Reality (Polioty vo sne i naiavu, dir. R. Balaian, 1983). These new archetypes and others furthermore help bring to the fore the conflict between the official and the unofficial, such as the relationship between those in positions of authority and their subordinates, as in The Bonus (Premiia, dir. Mikaelian, 1974), or in terms of the WWII cult and the perception of the war, as, for example, in It Was in May (Byl Mesiats May, dir. M. Khutsiev, 1971).

This panel stream will also explore the following issues: 1) new character archetypes and their ambivalent representations; 2) the deconstruction of social and cultural norms and gender; 3) the anti-hero as an instrument of social critique; 4) new aesthetics and acting techniques employed for the representation of new character archetypes in different genres.

Stream #6A
Corpora in Linguistic Research and Language Teaching
Organizers: Valentina Apresyan, Irina Mikaelian

Language corpora are an invaluable source of information for both linguists and language learners. We propose a series of two or three panels dedicated to theoretical and applied aspects of corpus linguistics within the field of Slavic languages. Suggested topics include parallel corpora, leaner corpora, and corpus-informed language teaching. Parallel corpora is a relatively new instrument that allows for studying cross-linguistic differences at all levels of language – morphology, syntax, semantics, and pragmatics and provide an abundance of comparative linguistic data that are usage-based rather than artificially constructed. Cross-linguistic differences in the choice of constructions, in decisions concerning lexical selection and pragmatic strategies are reflected in parallel corpora, yet are frequently missed by learner’s dictionaries and grammars. This is because 1) translational equivalents sometimes occur on different levels of language, e.g., a construction may be a translational equivalent of a lexical item, cf. examples of the Russian construction with reduplication and their translational equivalents: He was a regular bear at private affairs – В обычной жизни медведь-медведем; I don’t care what the quarantine regulations are […] – Карантин-карантином, но [...] (Russian National Corpus); 2) translational decisions are frequently based on a larger context; e.g., the Russian particle якобы ‘ostensibly, supposedly,’ which expresses the falsity of a proposition, is frequently licensed by the mere presence of indirect speech introduced by such verbs as to claim.

There is a number of parallel corpora for different Slavic languages (Russian-Polish, Russian-Ukrainian, Russian-Byelorussian, Russian-Czech, to name a few), which provide an instrument for cross-Slavic comparison of lexical and grammatical cognates (case systems, aspect, constructions), an important field in Slavic linguistics and pedagogy. Consider, for example, Russian svoj and Czech svůj which possess different semantic and collocational properties (Nedoluzhko 2016).

Learner corpora is a quickly growing sub-field of corpus linguistics pertaining to applied research and second language acquisition. They allow for various applications, such as identifying general patterns of language acquisition by groups of learners of various first languages; developing linguistic portraits of non-native speakers of various linguistic levels; comparing patterns of errors of heritage and traditional learners of language at different level (Alsufieva, Kisselev, Freels 2012). Learner corpora are available for a number of Slavic languages (Russian, Czech, Slovenian, and Polish).

We also encourage proposals related to corpus-informed language teaching using monolingual language corpora. Consider, for example, the Russian National Corpus as a pedagogical tool for teaching advanced levels of Russian, Russian for professional purposes (Levinzon, 2007), as well as a platform for unguided exploration of linguistic phenomena by advanced learners of Russian (Janda, 2007).

Stream # 1B
Organizers: Susan McReynolds and Victoria Juharyan

Building on the successes and lessons learned in the 2017 Dostoevsky Stream, we propose a Stream that will foster dialogue, collaboration, and community among scholars whose research focuses on the work of Dostoevsky and Tolstoy. There will be one panel focused on Dostoevsky; one on Tolstoy; and one will be mixed.

Proposed panels:
Dostoevsky and Internality
Tolstoy: Between Philosophy and Fiction
Tolstoy and Dostoevsky: Religion and Literature

Stream # 2B
Early Soviet Children’s Literature as Contested Site: Challenges of the Past and Strategies for the Future
Organizer: Marina Balina

Children’s literature of the Soviet era remains one of the most conflicting topics in the realm of Slavic studies. Its status as a scholarly subject remains twofold: some scholars view it as a product of Soviet propaganda and political indoctrination, while others consider Soviet children’s literature to be one of the most liberal domains that provided Soviet literati with creative freedom and the possibility of experimentation that literature for adults has denied them. The proposed panel stream intends to complicate both of these perspectives by investigating historical context surrounding the creation of new Soviet literature for children. The panel stream will consist of one panel and two roundtables that will analyze publication practices, political directives, and literary outcomes that shaped this new literature. The panelists will discuss individual achievements of children’s writers, addressing their aesthetic, educational, and political platform. Special attention will be given to the innovative interactions between verbal and visual imagery in children’s books of the 1920s–1930s. The goal is to develop a comprehensive and interdisciplinary approach to the children’s literature of this period and to demonstrate its subversive and thought-provoking nature.
Stream #3B
Reading in Russia
Organizers: Carlotta Chenoweth and Sean Blink

This series of panels will examine how reading practices have informed textual exegesis from the nineteenth to twenty-first centuries. It has been well documented that Russia’s history of textual production, distribution and consumption differs from its European counterparts. From the small reading networks of the early nineteenth century and relatively late acquisition of national literacy, to the divide between permitted and prohibited reading practices in the Soviet Union and the emergent online networks of readers and writers in the post-Soviet world, it is clear in the Russian context that reading practices cannot be separated from textual analysis. In the midst of our own period of media upheaval, we find ourselves re-examining the varied forms that reading has taken in the past. We will pose in these panels the following questions, considering them from an interdisciplinary perspective that takes into account the history of reading, the history of the book and literary scholarship: How does a given text object (book, website, etc.) interact with its readership? Where can we identify moments of transition in Russian reading practices? How are Russian readerships formed and what influence do they hold on textual production?

Stream # 4B
Organizers: Maria Khotimsky and Ainsley Morse

Following on the panel stream on Translation at AATSEEL 2017, this event brings together an international community of scholars who work on various cultural, sociological, and poetic aspects of translation. While last year's panel stream was based on a chronological approach, this year, we would like to invite thematic contributions to explore  historical, ideological, and aesthetic aspects of translation  in Russian and East-European contexts, as well as its role in shaping the émigré experience. 

We invite submissions for three main categories: 1) Translation and Ideology; 2) Poetics of Translation; 3) Translation and Literature of the Diaspora.  

Stream #5B

Learning trajectory of Russian second language learners: addressing linguistic, curricular and motivational needs at various proficiency levels

Organizers: Anna Alsufieva and Olesya Kisselev

Language pedagogy issues have become a topic of growing attention at the AATSEEL meetings over the past years, both reflecting - and advancing - increasingly better quality and rigor of research in the area of Slavic languages pedagogy. Research in this area has also been increasingly multidisciplinary, spanning the fields of Second language acquisition, linguistics, literary and cultural studies and general education. In the light of these observations, we propose a sequence of three panels which provide a fairly wide, multidisciplinary view on language learning.

Panels will address various pedagogical issues and review approaches to designing didactic sequences that help move learners from lower to higher levels of proficiency. Panels will also discuss the development of linguistic skills from the research perspective, in addition to providing the audience with specific curricular solutions. We intend to discuss the possible future directions of the pedagogy-oriented streams at the AATSEEL conference with the panelists and participants.

Stream #6B
The Political in Contemporary Russian Culture
Organizers: Mark Lipovetsky and Matthew Walker

Few would dispute that cultural questions in Russia and Eastern Europe have become increasingly politicized over the last decade. Yet what does it really mean to say culture has become “political”? Presentations in this stream will analyze various manifestations of politics in literature, film, art and culture of the 2000s-2010s, but the overall aim is to move beyond the usual discussion of thematic aspects and attempt to address this political moment in contemporary Russian and East European culture in a more rigorous way. Our starting point is Jacques Rancière's characterization of the political: “The essence of politics is dissensus. Dissensus is not a confrontation between interests or opinions. It is the demonstration (manifestation) of a gap in the sensible itself” (Dissensus: On Politics and Aesthetics, 38).