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The New Russia: Readings on Russian Culture

By Siemens, Elena | Canadian Slavonic Papers, September-December 2002 | Go to article overview

The New Russia: Readings on Russian Culture


Siemens, Elena, Canadian Slavonic Papers


Nijole White, ed. The New Russia: Readings on Russian Culture. London: Bristol Classical Press, 2000. 158 pp. L9.99, paper.

In The New Russia: Readings on Russian Culture, Nijole White argues that despite recent changes in Russia, "many examples of continuity with the past remain." She names, among other things, "the preoccupation with 'social justice' and the consequent abhorrence of the inequalities associates with the market economic system." She concludes that the abundance of such continuities, "prompts us to turn our attention to Russian cultural specificity."

Nyusya Milman, author of another recent textbook focusing on the new Russian culture (Business Russian: A Cultural Approach) says that in the past "the primary reason for studying a foreign language was to gain access to the nation's cultural masterpieces," but that currently the emphasis has shifted to "sociological and anthropological concerns," the "small-c culture." In connection with this, Milman ponders over how to "integrate in the language curriculum a balanced mixture of high and popular culture."

For her part, White defines culture as "a number of things that are common to a particular group of people and are unique to them: the framework of ideas and shared knowledge, the set of patterns or templates of behavior and the criteria for the evaluation ofthat behaviour." Consistent with this definition, The New Russia focuses exclusively on the "small-c culture," incorporating texts from the Russian press derived primarily from such newspapers as Nezavisimaia Gazeta, Moskovskie Novosti and Argumenty i Fakty.

The book includes six chapters. Chapter 1 ("Samoidentifikatsiia") contains excerpts from the Nezavisimaia Gazeta and deals with "the search for a Russian national identity as perceived by ordinary Russians." Chapter 2 ("Politicheskaya kul'tura") discuses different types of politician, Yeltsyn in particular, as represented in Nezavisimaia Gazeta, as well as Moskovskie Novosti.

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