Foreword

Yelena Furman

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Olga E. Kagan

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Volume One, 2008-2009

Russian in the U.S.: An Analysis of Modifications in the Spoken Language of the Diaspora

Natalya Berenshteyn

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    The spoken language of the Russian diaspora significantly differs from the language spoken in Russia, and growing dissimilarities between “standard” Russian and “émigré” Russian may create difficulties for diaspora members who maintain links with Russia. The present project is an attempt toward understanding the linguistic modification process that occurs in diaspora.  As part of this project, I interviewed four Russian-speaking individuals living in the United States. I conclude that a desire to retain the language does not play a significant role in preventing the “contamination” of émigré speech by the dominant language of their environment.

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Poshlost and Nabokov's Posh-lust

Rebecca Calinsky

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    The absence of a particular expression in the vocabulary of a nation does not necessarily coincide with the absence of the corresponding notion but it certainly impairs the fullness and readiness of the latter’s perception.” —Vladimir Nabokov

    Poshlost, a Russian word for which native Russian speakers claim there is no English equivalent, is introduced to English speakers in Vladimir Nabokov’s critical biography Nikolai Gogol. It is Nabokov’s belief that this word embodies the very essence of characters found in Gogol‘s Dead Souls. But what does poshlost mean? In Nabokov’s descriptions of the word, this definition is not explicit as never once does he tell the reader how Russians define it. Instead, he addresses instances of poshlost found in situations concerning a wide variety of topics from materialism to German culture. He subsequently goes on to describe the plump physical characteristics of poshlost, yet whether the word was meant to embrace such qualities is doubtful. Nabokov‘s attempt to relay to his readers its meaning only spawns the creation of a whole new word he dubs “poshlust,” in which a “u” has been put in place of the second “o.” While more phonetic-friendly, his poshlust leaves new implications for the word that never before existed and serve no purpose other than to make the term more appealing to English-speaking readers. His poshlust becomes posh-lust, suggesting an overpowering and even sexual desire for the posh. It is his posh-lust and not Russia‘s poshlost that he speaks of in his analysis.

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The Catalyst of Death: Illusion of Life Dispelled in The Death of Ivan Ilych

Rhea Blasdel

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    Lev Tolstoy's The Death of Ivan Ilych explores the internal struggle of a man faced with death.  Ivan Ilych spends his life as deemed appropriate by society and he successfully avoids any discomfort by turning away from it.  A seemingly insignificant fall while decorating his apartment ultimately turns to fatal illness, which prompts Ivan Ilych's spiritual awakening.  His approaching death leads him to the ultimate question: he was born and now he is dying, and there is nothing he can do to stop it; how can he find a way to accept it?  The text reveals the emergence and evolution of the protagonist’s consciousness, which eventually leads him to see the virtue of a simple and spiritual existence.

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Scandal: Dostoevsky's Theater of Ideas

Erin Grimm

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    In this paper I suggest that the chief function of scandal is to dramatize the ideological underpinnings of Dostoevsky‘s works. Through scandal scenes, author and reader work together to realize a multi-faceted truth that is expressed dramatically to the reader. Author, character and reader are linked in their need to endure inescapable discomfort, making scandal a means by which Dostoevsky‘s ideological priorities become the reader’s priorities.

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Rockin' Russia

Rostislav Klibaner

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    Rock took the Russian music scene by storm and was supremely influential in building national awareness of social crises and troubles.  Like its Western counterpart, Russian rock music dared to say what people only yearned to; there was thus something dangerous about rock music, and just the same, instantly alluring.  People were drawn to it for the controversy and for the sheer power of the music and the words. Urging hope and prosperity for the future, rock music blended different styles together in the spirit of cooperation and union. Through a close analysis of three songs, “Крылья” (“Wings”) and “Титаник” (“Titanic”) by Nautilus Pompilius and “Наш ом” (“Our House”) by Mashina Vremeni, paying particular attention to each song’s lyrical content and powerful, lasting imagery, I pinpoint the timeless messages of hope, love, and prosperity, all highlighted as crucial values for Russia’s evolution and development as a nation. Moreover, I explore the influence of Russian films, a medium that inherited the beneficial notions of Russian rock and that continues to inspire millions of individuals as Russia enters a new millennium.

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The Miracle of Belief in Dostoevsky's ?????? ??????????

Anna Kovalchuk

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    Fyodor Dostoevsky’s novel The Brothers Karamazov grapples with the role miracles play in the progression of personal belief. The proclaimed hero, Alyosha, a novice monk and man, experiences a testing of his faith once outside the monastic walls. Alyosha’s youthful faith, grounded in and conditional upon his very nature, is tested through Ivan’s polemic of the Grand Inquisitor, the death of the elder Zosima coupled with the corruption of his body, as well as the character of Grushenka. Throughout the novel, Alyosha acquires a more strengthened belief system, one not contingent upon personal disposition but resting upon a universal connection to humanity. Miracles which stem from this teeming humanity are shown to be the most affirmative of God’s will, while those resulting from a realist’s necessary faith are both dangerous and misleading. Alyosha’s heroism is thus established by this process of change and growth.

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Prince Andrei's Quest in Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace

Emilia Bogdanova Liberty

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    Lev Tolstoy' s War and Peace raises the issues of the search for life's true meaning and purpose, as well as questions about the soul's connection to higher spiritual truth. The protagonist of the novel, Prince Andrei Bolkonsky, is tormented and lost on his journey through life. The tone of a uniquely Russian suffering of a divided person, with his potential for kindness and openness towards the world, characterize Andrei Bolkonsky. The main influences that change his outlook on life come from a connection with nature through Natasha Rostova. The immediate forces of nature impact him as well. They work from the outside in, as is the case with the sky above the battle of Austerlitz and the old oak-tree. They fuel Prince Andrei's quest, leading him on the path towards meaningful life and love for humanity.

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Korney Chukovsky's Writing for Children in Soviet Russia

Maryna Pecherska

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    During the early 1900s children's literature was deteriorating due to the overuse of revolutionary ideologies, and by the 1920s it had almost disappeared in the dogma of the new communist government. The over-politicized children's books were filled with morals and lessons. The imagination of the young readers was forgotten until Korney Chukovsky began publishing his wild and imaginative stories. By applying stylistic devices of the avant-garde and modernist eras, Korney Chukovsky created a new kind of children's literature appealing to the young readers' social, spiritual, and emotional needs. Fighting bans and criticism, Chukovsky, through poems such as "The Crocodile," "The Cockroach" and "Moidodyr," gave rise to children's literature as a genre that people know and love until this day.

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Fyodor Dostoevsky: An Analysis of Existentialism within Notes from Underground

Yelizaveta Rapoport

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    Fyodor Dostoevsky wrote Notes from Underground in 1864. The novel encompasses the life and thoughts of a lonely, spiteful, sickly man ranting into a journal. Dostoevsky’s “underground man” is often grotesque, generally cruel, and completely isolated from other human beings. The underground man’s suffering is caused by his paradox of need. He yearns to attain a sense of connection with the outside world, while simultaneously demanding total independence and absolute free-will. Notes from Underground is a tremendous achievement in existentialist thought. The novel illustrates the existence of a single individual man who in the midst of his infinite failures struggles to exist, to define himself, to define the universe around him, and to belong. The diary of the underground man is a window into the true nature of existentialism.

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Adaptation of Russian Orphans in the United States

Alex Wang

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    The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the effectiveness of how different external conditions influence the adjustment of Russian orphans in the United States by comparing the interviews of two adopted orphans who underwent different post-adoptive environments. One of these orphans was subjected to conditions of complete assimilation with cultural replacement while the other received some degree of cultural retention. The challenges that the orphans endured during the process of assimilating included linguistic and cultural barriers, in addition to the challenges of being displaced from family. Each adoptee was examined in terms of their responses to questions about their pre- and post-adoptive environment as well as their current level of adjustment. 

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Unusual Palatalization in English by Native Russian Singers

Corinne Seals

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    Palatalization is expected in different frequencies and linguistic environments in English and Russian. This paper will offer a brief sociocultural linguistic analysis of this one aspect in regards to what makes pronunciation of English lyrics sound "different" when sung by Russian natives. The well-known Russian duet t.A.T.u will serve as the primary example for this study, as I briefly explore their use of unusual palatalization in English and how their native Russian language influences this. Furthermore, I will present a possible culturally based explanation behind the differences in the frequencies of each singer's use of unusual palatalization in English music.

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Lost in Translation: Winnie-the-Pooh in Russian and English

Xenia Tashlitsky

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    In translations of children’s literature, the balance between conveying the meaning of individual words and the message of the work as a whole often tips towards communicating the spirit and style of the author rather than the word-for-word translation of the text. Zahar Shavit alleges that the literary community does not apply the same standards of accuracy to translations of children’s literature because children’s literature is at the bottom of the literary food chain. However, Riitta Oittinen asserts that the literary community benefits when children’s books are translated in accordance with the cultural context of the reading audience. I would like to argue that we should expand our criteria for evaluating translations to include not only textual accuracy but cultural relevance. In other words, we should ask not only “Is this translation accurate?” but also “Is this translation appropriate for the message of the author in the context of the age, society, and culture of the audience?”

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