Introduction

Naya Lekht

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Volume Two, 2009-2010

Pubs in the Czech Republic: Simply a Gentleman's Business

Johana Fiserova

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    The pub in the Czech Republic has a distinct role. It lays a foundation for the character of Czech society. The pub, hospoda, is the most basic Czech drinking establishment that carries along with it an abundant history. The establishment of pubs in the Czech Republic dates all the way back to the 15th and 16th centuries. Pubs, however, had to await their popularity until the Czech National Revival of the 19th century, when they became a center for the emerging societal recovery predominantly initiated by men. It was a place where men kept the Czech language alive through social interactions with each other. Due to their historical role and significance, pubs became a gendered space within Czech social life and culture. Even though women are not prohibited from entering pubs, most of them perceive the pub as an unwelcoming environment. This article examines the role of the pub as a gendered space by looking at the physical composition of the pub, men’s role within that space, and women’s separateness and perception of the internally rugged “life of the pub.” Not only do these details contribute to the gender divide within pubs, but in reality, there are two major domains of the pub, one positive and the other negative. The majority of men tend to perceive the function of the pub as a positive one, while most women and those who do not visit pubs view the pub as a negative social gathering place. This perception results in a men versus women gender divide, which is popularly reflected in Czech literature and country-wide media.

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Image and Themes of Mayakovsky in Bulgakov's Works

Emilia Bogdanova Liberty

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    Vladimir Mayakovsky, one of the brightest stars of Russian Futurism, wholeheartedly supported the ideas of the October Revolution and composed poetry that glorified it. However, he believed that the Futurist movement was his alma mater. Mayakovsky’s death in 1930 relieved him from witnessing the consequences of Stalin’s forceful proclamation of Socialist Realism as the only acceptable style in art and literature. The obliteration of various avant-garde movements, including Futurism, demonstrated how impossible it was for artists and writers to work in such a stringent political milieu. Mikhail Bulgakov, Mayakovsky’s contemporary, was one of the writers who continued to produce literature that did not obey the Soviet canon under Stalin. Mayakovsky as a Futurist and Bulgakov as a representative of the intelligentsia are polar opposites in terms of their backgrounds, political views, literary styles, and status as writers during their lifetime. Bulgakov in Master and Margarita and Mayakovsky in The Bedbug inject criticism of each other into their works through thinly veiled but oftentimes openly aggressive and mutually offensive attacks. While it is important to consider the apparent tension and literary rivalry between Bulgakov and Mayakovsky that landed them in each others’ works, it is also paramount to investigate these authors’ corresponding effort to expose and uproot bureaucracy that plagued Soviet society by examining their similar approaches to the themes of death, resurrection, and immortality.

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Solaris: Philosophy through Science Fiction

Kenneth Martinez

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    Written in the context of post-Stalinist Poland, Solaris is a cleverly engineered philosophical novel that hides behind the pretense of science fiction to deliver stunning social and political commentary. In addition to Stanislaw Lem’s novel, Russian filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky produced a 1972 film version of Solaris. Tarkovsky’s film and Lem’s novel present a finely woven story about a seemingly sentient alien planet and the attempts of humans to communicate with it. The planet Solaris is almost completely covered by an enigmatic “ocean”; drawing from the immense repertoire of human experience has yielded only this imprecise linguistic definition. Not much more can be ascribed to the body with any certainty. It was observed to have qualities that suggest consciousness, and it was found to have an immense control over factors to which it should have been subject. When scientist Kris Kelvin arrives on the planet to investigate strange occurrences at the station, he has to relive tragic memories of his past; somehow, the planet has brought a visitor from the past back to life for each of the scientists on Solaris. The main thematic concerns of the novel stem from how the characters deal with their visitors as they try to understand what the nature of the “ocean” really is. Philosophically, both the film and the novel deal with similar issues, but show the influence of different ideas and deliver slightly different messages. This article will examine the philosophical aim of Solaris and the differences between novel and film.

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Frames of the 2008 Russian Election

Justine Miller

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    During the months leading up to the 2008 Russian presidential election, American news coverage of Russia increased and began to present alarming depictions of the Russian government. However, coverage of this event was not the same across all media outlets and sources. The various differences in the presentation of issues surrounding the Russian election can be largely attributed to the process of framing. Through framing, stories and issues are shaped, thus ensuring that the audience is left with a desired interpretation and an intended message. In order to better understand how different news sources have framed the subject of this highly controversial election, this study examines both a liberal American newspaper, The New York Times, and a conservative American newspaper, The Wall Street Journal. To further the scope of the study, The Moscow Times, a Russian newspaper written primarily for expatriates living in Russia, is also examined. The study compares ten news articles published between January 10, 2008 and March 4, 2008 from each of these three newspapers. Its findings provide insight into the real issues of the election and shows how people’s opinions of the presidential race might be shaped depending on which newspaper is read. Although the overarching frame of President Putin controlling the election is used in all three newspapers, each source also utilizes additional frames: current events-focused in The New York Times, economic in The Wall Street Journal, and local in The Moscow Times.

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From Russification to Ukrainisation: A Survey of Language Politics in Ukraine

Corinne Seals

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    Throughout the twentieth century, inhabitants of Ukraine experienced many drastic changes in linguistic identity as a result of the establishment of the Soviet Union and the attempts to "unify" Russia with its neighboring countries and then once more when Ukraine gained its independence in 1991. As a result of shifting language policies, a situation has presented itself in which some Ukrainians claim Ukrainian as their native language, but not all. Others who feel they are ethnically Ukrainian speak Russian as their native language, and some even speak a variety of mixed language, which many native Ukrainians refer to as surzhyk.

    Since Ukraine’s independence, political awareness of the current linguistic situation has led to the exclusive use of Ukrainian in an effort to help it reemerge as the official language of the state.  Major recent policies have targeted the media especially, due to the fact that media has a major effect on populations, and it had previously been presented almost entirely in Russian. However, an interesting situation has developed in that media outlets are finding ways around these rules by having two presenters: one in Russian and one in Ukrainian, reflecting the linguistic divide in Ukraine. This overview of the current linguistic situation in Ukraine will serve to show the reasons for the current language policies and exactly how far these policies have extended.

     

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