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Russkie Poslovitsy

Russian Proverbs in Literature, Politics, and Pedagogy- Festschrift for Kevin J. McKenna in Celebration of His Sixty-Fifth Birthday


Edited By Wolfgang Mieder

This unique Festschrift in honor of Professor Kevin J. McKenna on the occasion of his sixty-fifth birthday is different from most such celebratory essay volumes in that it does not consist of essays from various authors but is rather a collection of fourteen of his most significant publications on proverbial matters from the last two decades. For more than twenty-five years, Professor McKenna has taught Russian language, culture, and literature at the University of Vermont, and during this time, he has gained national and international recognition as an instructor, scholar, and administrator. On the campus of his university, he has been a true champion of international education, and he has been an inspiring and guiding light for many students as they made impressive progress with their Russian studies in Vermont and in Russia. While his numerous cultural, literary, and political studies have brought him much recognition, it is especially his seminal book All the Views Fit to Print: Changing Images of the U.S. in «Pravda» Political Cartoons, 1917-1991 (2001) that continues to be a mainstay today in the study of the relationship of the United States and the Soviet Union during the twentieth century. Of course, Dr. McKenna has also made a name for himself as a proverb scholar in the United States and in Europe with his paremiological publications on the literary, journalistic, and political use of proverbs. The edited essay volume Proverbs in Russian Literature: From Catherine the Great to Alexander Solzhenitsyn (1998) is especially noteworthy.
The fourteen essays of this Festschrift are divided into three groups – literature, politics, and pedagogy. The first six essays are dedicated to the literary use and function of proverbs in the works of Catherine the Great, Leo Tolstoy, Boris Pasternak, Vladimir Nabokov, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, and Sergei Eisenstein. The next five articles deal with the use of proverbs in Pravda headlines, the depiction of the proverb «Big fish eat little fish» in Pravda cartoons, Russian politics in Pravda cartoons, the image of the «Ship of State» in such cartoons, and Vladimir Putin’s employment of proverbs. The three essays in the section on pedagogy look at the role of proverbs in the Russian language curriculum, the appearance of proverbs in Russian language textbooks, and the importance of the so-called paremiological minimum, that is, the set of Russian proverbs that are known and used frequently by native speakers and that consequently should also be learned by foreign language students. Together these studies are representative of Kevin J. McKenna’s accomplishments as a proverb scholar, and they also present an informed and eminently readable introduction to the rich field of Russian proverbs.


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Part Three: Pedagogy


p a r t t h r e e pedagogy Mieder_Book.indb 229 23/10/12 1:38 PM Mieder_Book.indb 230 23/10/12 1:38 PM “ha ПocJioBИЦУ hИ СУДa hИ pacПРАВЫ”: the role of Proverbs in the russian lanGuaGe curriculum · 1 2 · The past decade has witnessed the converging interests of two groups of Soviet scholars—the paremiologist and the foreign language methodologist. To locate the bridge linking these two disciplines, we must go back a little further— the early 1970s—to the pioneering work of the renowned Soviet folklorist G.L. Permjakov, whose research on a paremiological “minimum” initiated an important new direction in the study of the Russian Language. Briefly stated, in 1971–72 Permjakov conducted a large-scale paremio- logical experiment using 250 Russian-speaking informants from the area in and around Moscow. His findings showed that a passive knowledge of 1000 proverbial statements was necessary for a good understanding of Russian speech.1 Furthermore, on the basis of his investigations it was shown that proverbs and proverbial expressions comprise approximately 75% of this paremiological minimum. In addition to his astute analysis of the composi- tion and logico-semantic classification of this paremiological stock and the relationship between passive and active minimums, Permjakov made con- vincing arguments for the incorporation of proverbs and proverbial expres- sions into the Russian Language classroom. In subsequent articles Permjakov agitated for the publication of proverb dictionaries designed for use by for- eign students of the Russian language.2 In his article “K voprosu o russkom paremiologičeskom minimume,...

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