Book Prize Winners for 2001
Best Contribution to Language Pedagogy 2001:
Olga Kagan, Benjamin Rifkin and Susan Bauckus, eds. The Learning and Teaching of Slavic Languages and Cultures. Bloomington, Ind: Slavica, 2000.
Olga Kagan, Benjamin Rifkin and Susan Bauckus's The Learning and Teaching of Slavic Languages and Cultures is truly "a volume of breadth and complexity that required the time, energy, and enthusiasm of many people," but most of all--of the editors themselves. With this volume, they have created a bridge reaching back to a similar effort published by colleagues 15 years ago, and reaching forward to the next generation of teachers, to whom they dedicate their book with the hope that they will compile the next such volume. The book gives a broad overview of what is happening in pedagogy and second language acquisition not only in Slavic but also in the field at large, with each section of refereed papers being introduced by a prominent non-Slavist. In addition to the extensive collection of essays, the volume also includes a comprehensive review of textbooks, references and other resources currently available to students and teachers of Slavic languages and cultures. The Learning and Teaching of Slavic Languages and Cultures offers a snapshot of the field at the beginning of the 21st century and it will remain an invaluable resource and starting point for further discussion and research in the years to come.
Best Book in Linguistics 2001:
Sue Brown. Syntax of Negation in Russian: A Minimalist Approach. Stanford, Cal.: Center for the Study of Language and Information, 1999.
Sue Brown's monograph, The Syntax of Negation in Russian, is a highly focused discussion of negation and related issues in Russian and is one of the first to treat a syntactic phenomenon completely within a single Slavic language. Its clear introduction to Minimalism, its thorough survey of other approaches, and its analytical strength has led to a renewed interest in the genitive of negation in Russian and the other Slavic languages. For general linguists the value of the work lies in its clear explication of negation in Russian and its contribution of reliable data to the theoretical discussion. For Slavists it serves both as an introduction to a new theoretical approach as well as an accessible demonstration of how Minimalist theory can solve old problems in a new and insightful way.
Best Book in Literary/Cultural Scholarship 2001:
Eliot Borenstein. Men Without Women: Masculinity and Revolution in Russian Fiction, 1917-1929. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2000.
In elegant and lucid prose, Eliot Borenstein's Men without Women: Masculinity and Revolution in Russian Fiction, 1917-1929 offers a detailed analysis of the masculinist ethos of Russian revolutionary culture as reflected in the prose fiction of the 1920's. In the wake of the revolution, argues Borenstein, social relations assumed a new vision of comradeliness predicated on male bonding, one that effectively eroded family ties, the worth of heterosexual romance and the exigencies of reproduction. The Soviet "man question" emerged alongside the older "zhenskii vopros" and survived as the phenomenon of "fratriarchal communism" until high Stalinism's discursive return to family values in the 1930's. Since the "man question" was never conceptualized as systematically or consciously by contemporary thinkers as the gender issues raised by Russian feminists, it is to Borenstein's credit that he has been able to tease out the ramifications of what was more a rhetorical and cultural tendency than a fullyfledged theory. This he does not by dissolving literature into culture, but by reading the works of Babel, Olesha, and Platonov as critical engagements in the culture of Boleshvik masculinity, texts that ultimately expose the dystopian consequences of a society from which the feminine has been excluded.
Best Translation into English 2001:
Daniel Weissbort. Selected Poems of Nikolay Zabolotsky. Manchester: Carcanet, 1999.
The Selected Poems of Nikolay Zabolotsky, edited by Daniel Weissbort, is the first representative collection of Zabolotsky's poems in English translation. For this alone, this volume earns accolades, for Zabolotsky is undoubtedly a poet of great significance. The somewhat mystifying absence of any previous systematic attempt to render his poetry into English might be explained by its sheer linguistic complexity in the original, for Zabolotsky was fond of grotesques, intricate and obscure metaphors, and eccentric turns of speech and style. In this light, this volume becomes even more worthy of acclaim. The translations included are primarily the work of Weissbort himself, although there are a few by Robin Milner-Gulland and Peter Levi. The volume incorporates poems from every stage of Zabolotsky's career--over eighty shorter lyrics and all four of his long poems. Taking a variety of approaches to translation, ranging from a high degree of formal faithfulness to more semantically precise renderings, the volume as a whole accomplishes the seemingly impossible, delivering a composite image that accurately conveys the overall tone and tenor of Zabolotsky's works to the English reader.