Tom Kindt

Rainer Grübel

»Čto (ne) delat’« – »What is (not) to be done«? Why Standards and Norms are a Current Problem within Slavistics


Full-length article in: JLT 5/2 (2011), 195–208.

The essay opens with a preliminary note on why the author decided to contribute to this issue (Slavica non leguntur), why the German language was chosen (in the context of German's culture of law, standards and norms are especially problematic) and about the genre of the text (an essay, in order to avoid the habitus of a legislator). The necessity to discuss standards and norms is interpreted as the symptom of a crisis, a signal of which is the growing importance of brain physiology for the humanities and social sciences. Norms and standards are ascribed to a presupposed collective subject as agent. Recent problematizations of norms, the normal and the production of normality within sociology are acknowledged. Norms of literary studies, which can be defined as binding rules of conduct, should be embedded within a theory and be made practical by methodology. Minimal standards have to be reflected with regard to the subjects who pose them and their areas of application. This is where problems specific to Slavistics have occurred since the end of Real Socialism, after which the number of agents and regions multiplied: individual regionalization is the other side of a generalizing globalization. Moreover, there is the difference between Slavistics as individual national philologies and as foreign language philologies. The specifics of language as a medium attribute normative importance to literary studies even within Slavistics understood as cultural studies, which itself prefers pluralist focalizations. Interdisciplinarity, intermediality and interculturality have become standards in Slavic studies.

The essay considers the succession of the linguistic and iconic turn as well as the displacement of the Socialist Realism doctrine as consequential for the formation of standards and norms. In addition to an emancipation from linguistics (e. g. Russian Formalism) and a more relaxed relation to social sciences, now there is a competition with media studies. Media research can be pursued within literary studies in several ways: first as drama or theater studies, second as deriving from the internal differentiation of literature into poetry, prose and drama, and finally as research into intermediality.

Specifics of gender studies, postcolonial studies and historical models (chronology vs. periodization) within Slavistics are discussed. Several aspects render the transfer of Middle and West European norms and standards problematic: strong profiles of the motherland, the integration of the Orient into parts of Slavic cultures' territories (e. g. Bosnia, Russia), questions regarding the ongoing existence of Russia as a colonial power, and the colonialization of the Balkans by Turkey. The current reluctance to historically remodel the discipline into several Slavic Slavistics, fostered by breakings of norms and crises of canon, can be overcome by creatively connecting chronology and periodization. In doing this, any abuse of literature in order to illustrate (even historiographic) discourses of truth has to be avoided: Literary artifacts are in themselves documents of the history of knowledge, since they unlock knowledge, hand it down and criticize it. Especially the perceptible changes in the norms and standards hold the promise of a productive future for Slavic studies.


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How to cite this item:

Abstract of: Rainer Grübel, »Čto (ne) delat'« – »Was (nicht) tun«? Warum Normen und Standards in der Slavistik gegenwärtig ein Problem sind.

In: JLTonline (12.07.2011)


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