Dialogues on Bakhtin : interdisciplinary readings
The ideas of Mikhail Bakhtin have received a great amount of scholarly interest both in his homeland and in the West, giving rise to a special discipline devoted to the study of the legacy of the Bakhtin Circle. Despite the huge amount of material published on Bakhtin, the appropriation of Bakhtin’s ideas has remained a rather controversial issue, and thus, there are competing views, especially between Russian and Western scholars, on what Bakhtin’s project was. Furthermore, the relevance of Bakhtin is not limited to ’Bakhtinology proper’, nor to literary criticism, cultural studies, and philosophy, which are traditionally considered Bakhtin’s home ground. It has become trendy to apply Bakhtin within other disciplines such as pedagogy, psychology, and linguistics, to name just a few, and, in certain respects, there seem to be good grounds for talking about a ’Bakhtin industry’ which has created ’Bakhtins’ for different purposes.The diversity of views on ’what Bakhtin really meant’ stems, at least partially, from the fact that our understanding of Bakhtin is complicated by well-known problems associated with the publication and translation of his works both in Russia and in the West. However, in the contemporary context of Bakhtin studies the situation is radically changing thanks to two projects dedicated to a complete scholarly edition of Bakhtin’s work. First, the publication of Bakhtin’s Collected Works has started in Russia, making available new and previously unpublished material, and, second, Bakhtin Centre at the University of Sheffield has launched a project that aims at an electronic edition of the works of the Bakhtin Circle in which the original Russian texts are complemented by their revised English translations. Hence, on the one hand, in the present situation there is clearly a need for a critical approach based on careful reading of source texts and also on the criticism of these sources. On the other hand, although a certain critical and analytical attitude towards Bakhtin’s texts is extremely important, there is no reason why the understanding and evaluation of his own ideas in their own contexts should be considered as the only legitimate form of Bakhtin studies.In addition to ’Bakhtinology proper’, the appropriation and application of Bakhtin’s ideas in new dialogizing contexts is, we argue, a perfectly justified and fruitful approach which does not necessarily lead to the exploitation and misrepresentation of Bakhtin. On the contrary, the recon-textualisation of Bakhtinian metaphors – when it is not based on an overzealous appropriation of isolated concepts, but on the understanding of their role in the overall system of Bakhtin’s thinking – can, in fact, enrich their meaning potential by offering new insights regarding the object of study. In some sense, we think, Bakhtin himself would certainly had appreciated this abundant posthumous response evoked by his ideas, since, in the end, words always want to be heard. The articles of this volume are based on papers delivered at the seminar The Relevance of Bakhtin’s Ideas in an Interdisciplinary Context which took place at the University of Jyväskylä in May 1997. The aim of the book, as its title suggests, is to discuss the ideas of Bakhtin and the Bakhtin Circle from an interdisciplinary perspective. We hope that the present book will contribute both to a critical approach to the texts of the Bakhtin Circle and also to the theoretical discussions within and between the disciplines represented by the contributors of this book. The editors would like to express their sincere gratitude to everyone who assisted in the preparation of this book. Particularly we would like to thank Kari Sajavaara, Minna-Riitta Luukka, and Sirpa Leppänen for their critical comments on some of the articles, Carol Adlam for her thorough and expert answers to our numerous questions, Helena Valtanen and Katja Mäntylä for language revision, Sinikka Lampinen for preparing the manuscript for print, and, of course, all the contributors. ...