Russian Talk: Culture and Conversation during Perestroika

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9780801484162: Russian Talk: Culture and Conversation during Perestroika

Soulful, theatrical, intense: Russian talk is notably full of existential musing and dark passion. However, despite the widespread appreciation of Russian talk, no one has analyzed it as a form of cultural performance. As one of the first Western ethnographers to undertake fieldwork in Moscow, Nancy Ries did just that. In this pioneering study, she shows how everyday conversation shapes Russian identity and culture.Dire stories about poverty, hardship, and social decay recited constantly during perestroika served to fabricate a common worldview―conveying a sense of shared experience and destiny, and casting Russian society as an inescapable realm of absurdity and suffering. Ries agues that while these narratives aptly depicted the chaotic events of the time, they also comprised a kind of contemporary folklore, generic in their lamenting, portentous tones and their culturally poignant details.The story of a grandmother who stands in line all day in order to bring home a precious kilo of sugar becomes a parable of feminine self-sacrifice and endurance. Sardonic narratives about frustrated communal apartment dwellers pouring hot pepper in their neighbor's soup pot challenge the myth of camaraderie and express the proverbial notion that revenge is sweeter for Russians than reconciliation.This insightful ethnography suggests the enormous power that ordinary talk has, in any society, to shape social and political attitudes, and to produce distinctive cultural patterns.

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Review :

"Ries masterfully combines the techniques of a social historian with those of a folklorist engaged in the study of traditional ethnography. The resulting methodological synthesis provides unique insight into the mechanisms of cultural transmission during a turbulent period of Russian history. . . Her book represents a powerful new tool to inform the research of other social historians, as well as a fascinating tale in its own right―a series of vignettes on the lives of common Russians during an epoch of recent history that already seems irretrievably long past. Anyone seriously interested in Russia's cultural forms should read this book."―Choice

"Ries skillfully draws connections among the Russian speech forms and the construction of the personal and national identity, traditional Russian folklore genres, and contemporary political and media discourse."―Library Journal

"Russian Talk so illuminates the dynamic of conversation with and among Russians that it would be tempting to focus on the value of the work for individuals who plan to participate in Russian culture. But to do so would neglect the originality, meticulous research, and seamless writing that characterize this first monograph. . . . In addition to the thought-provoking scholarship, Ries's discussion of conversation sheds light on the frustration that Americans encounter when their proposed solutions to problems raised in the litanies are 'met with silence.'"―H-Russia, H-Net Reviews

"The elegant ease with which Nancy Ries spans the distance between discourse theory abstractions and conversational fragments steeped in raw emotions is remarkable. There is so much in her account that rings true. . . . A first-rate piece of scholarship. Nancy Ries has done a great service by showing how contemporary discourse analysis can fashion fieldwork in a discipline that has often lagged behind in theoretical advances. I highly recommend her study to all Russianists with an ear for language and a knack for lore."―Slavic Review

"Cutting a different path through the by-now-traditional political and historical scholarship on perestroika, Nancy Ries offers a painstaking ethnographic portrayal of the moral and affective worlds governing that period. In Russian Talk, Ries considers how Russians, faced with social upheaval, collective fragmentation, and disorientation, commented upon the absurdity of their destinies and the injustice and suffering they experienced while negotiating everyday survival."―American Journal of Sociology

"Russian Talk is one of the most original current analyses of perestroika and the immediate post-Communist era. . . . Ries's innovative approach and sensitive analysis makes this book essential for any scholar engaged in research in post-Soviet Russia. . . . Russian Talk is a very timely book for any scholar of the former Soviet Union and will also be very useful for scholars interested in studying identity formation and social change."―American Anthropologist

"A fascinating and beautifully-written book. . . . Historians will find Ries's study exceptionally useful."―Russian Review

"This book succeeds in three ways; it is very entertaining, a 'good read'; it is a mine rich in raw materials, reports of talks, actions, other social data from which the reader can draw his own conclusions and puzzlements; and it supplies valuable theories, hypotheses, conclusions."―Slavonica

"If Ries should turn out more books on par with this one, the strength of their material and her writing will ensure that they are the stuff of good reading, and good talk."―Canadian Slavonic Papers

"Ries's effort is outstanding in both description and theory. . . . To sum up, I can definitely recommend Ries's book to those interested in linguistic anthropology."―Andrea Agnes Remenyi, Language in Society

"No one in Russian studies will be able to ignore this book. It truly engaged me. Ries has staked out her position forcefully and presented strong evidence. I think she will become famous as the author of the 'Ries thesis'―that what is Russian about Russians is constituted through talk."―John Bushnell, Northwestern University

"Anthropologist Nancy Ries went to Russia to listen to Muscovites as they talked about the many alterations that perestroika was making in the fabric of their lives. The result is a book that is at once superb scholarship, a treasure trove of urban folklore, and an exciting contribution to discussions of Russian identity in the late twentieth century. If you want to know what people say around the kitchen table when civilization is changing outside their windows then you can find no better source than Russian Talk."―Kathleen Parthé, University of Rochester

"This is a wonderfully informative and readable analysis of the literary and symbolic aspects of Russian speech. Ries maps the stance of the Russian intelligentsia with insight and compassion."―David Ransel, Indiana University

From Library Journal :

In 1989-90, anthropologist Ries (Colgate Univ.) studied the conversations of educated urban Russians and identified recurrent forms of speech, including the litany, the lament, the first-person trickster narrative, and "tales of heroic shopping." Ries skillfully draws connections among these speech forms and the construction of personal and national identity, traditional Russian folklore genres, and contemporary political and media discourse. She argues that while these enduring narrative forms enabled Russians to adapt psychologically to hardship and oppression, they may have prevented people from taking effective action during the relatively liberated era of perestroika. Unfortunately, this interesting interdisciplinary study is often rambling and poorly organized; for example, the author's synopsis of recent Russian history and her presentation of perestroika as a "macro-scale rite of passage" belong in the introduction rather than the conclusion. For specialists in Russian studies, folklore, and linguistic anthropology.?Judy Sierra, Eugene, Ore.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Description du livre Cornell University Press, United States, 1997. Paperback. État : New. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****.As one of the first Western ethnographers working in Moscow, Nancy Ries became convinced that talk is one crucial way in which Russian identity is constructed and reproduced. Listening to the grim stories people used to characterize their lives during perestroika, and encountering the florid pessimism with which Muscovites described the unraveling of Soviet governance, Ries realized that these dire tales played a crucial role in fabricating a sense of shared experience and destiny. While many of the narratives aptly depicted the chaotic social and political events, they also promoted key images of Russianness and presented Russian society as an inescapable realm of injustice, absurdity, and suffering. At the height of perestroika in the early 1990s, Moscow residents commonly used the phrase complete ruin to refer to the disintegration of Russian society, encompassing in that phrase the escalation of crime, the disappearance of goods from stores, the fall of production, ecological catastrophes, ethnic violence in the Caucasus, the degradation of the arts, and the flood of pornography. Ries argues that such stories became a genre of folklore consistent in their lamenting, portentous tone and their dramatic, culturally poignant details. N° de réf. du libraire APC9780801484162

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Description du livre Cornell University Press, United States, 1997. Paperback. État : New. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****. As one of the first Western ethnographers working in Moscow, Nancy Ries became convinced that talk is one crucial way in which Russian identity is constructed and reproduced. Listening to the grim stories people used to characterize their lives during perestroika, and encountering the florid pessimism with which Muscovites described the unraveling of Soviet governance, Ries realized that these dire tales played a crucial role in fabricating a sense of shared experience and destiny. While many of the narratives aptly depicted the chaotic social and political events, they also promoted key images of Russianness and presented Russian society as an inescapable realm of injustice, absurdity, and suffering. At the height of perestroika in the early 1990s, Moscow residents commonly used the phrase complete ruin to refer to the disintegration of Russian society, encompassing in that phrase the escalation of crime, the disappearance of goods from stores, the fall of production, ecological catastrophes, ethnic violence in the Caucasus, the degradation of the arts, and the flood of pornography. Ries argues that such stories became a genre of folklore consistent in their lamenting, portentous tone and their dramatic, culturally poignant details. N° de réf. du libraire APC9780801484162

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Description du livre Cornell University Press. Paperback. État : New. Paperback. 256 pages. Dimensions: 8.9in. x 5.9in. x 0.6in.Soulful, theatrical, intense: Russian talk is notably full of existential musing and dark passion. However, despite the widespread appreciation of Russian talk, no one has analyzed it as a form of cultural performance. As one of the first Western ethnographers to undertake fieldwork in Moscow, Nancy Ries did just that. In this pioneering study, she shows how everyday conversation shapes Russian identity and culture. Dire stories about poverty, hardship, and social decay recited constantly during perestroika served to fabricate a common worldviewconveying a sense of shared experience and destiny, and casting Russian society as an inescapable realm of absurdity and suffering. Ries agues that while these narratives aptly depicted the chaotic events of the time, they also comprised a kind of contemporary folklore, generic in their lamenting, portentous tones and their culturally poignant details. The story of a grandmother who stands in line all day in order to bring home a precious kilo of sugar becomes a parable of feminine self-sacrifice and endurance. Sardonic narratives about frustrated communal apartment dwellers pouring hot pepper in their neighbors soup pot challenge the myth of camaraderie and express the proverbial notion that revenge is sweeter for Russians than reconciliation. This insightful ethnography suggests the enormous power that ordinary talk has, in any society, to shape social and political attitudes, and to produce distinctive cultural patterns. This item ships from multiple locations. Your book may arrive from Roseburg,OR, La Vergne,TN. Paperback. N° de réf. du libraire 9780801484162

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Description du livre Cornell University Press, United States, 1997. Paperback. État : New. Language: English . This book usually ship within 10-15 business days and we will endeavor to dispatch orders quicker than this where possible. Brand New Book. As one of the first Western ethnographers working in Moscow, Nancy Ries became convinced that talk is one crucial way in which Russian identity is constructed and reproduced. Listening to the grim stories people used to characterize their lives during perestroika, and encountering the florid pessimism with which Muscovites described the unraveling of Soviet governance, Ries realized that these dire tales played a crucial role in fabricating a sense of shared experience and destiny. While many of the narratives aptly depicted the chaotic social and political events, they also promoted key images of Russianness and presented Russian society as an inescapable realm of injustice, absurdity, and suffering. At the height of perestroika in the early 1990s, Moscow residents commonly used the phrase complete ruin to refer to the disintegration of Russian society, encompassing in that phrase the escalation of crime, the disappearance of goods from stores, the fall of production, ecological catastrophes, ethnic violence in the Caucasus, the degradation of the arts, and the flood of pornography. Ries argues that such stories became a genre of folklore consistent in their lamenting, portentous tone and their dramatic, culturally poignant details. N° de réf. du libraire LIE9780801484162

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