The Bulgarian Other as a Worse Western Self: Marginalia about the Marginality of Bulgarian Studies in American Academia Cover Image
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Българският Друг като по-лош Западен Аз: маргиналия за маргиналността на българистиката в американската академия
The Bulgarian Other as a Worse Western Self: Marginalia about the Marginality of Bulgarian Studies in American Academia

Author(s): Nikita Nankov
Subject(s): Literary Texts
Published by: Институт за литература - BAN
Keywords: Marginalia; Bulgarian Studies; American Academia

Summary/Abstract: This essay has two entwined purposes. First, on a practical level, it analyzes the hierarchy of Slavic languages and literatures in American academia and some of the means by which it is created and perpetuated. It also covers the mechanisms used to promote Western literatures as superior to Russian literature. The main issue at this level is the unenviable place of Bulgarian Studies, especially Bulgarian language and literature, in the context of Slavic Studies in the US. Second, on a theoretical level and using the peripheral status of Bulgarian Studies as a springboard, the inquiry investigates the relationship between “major” and “minor” literatures and cultures and the role of academia and the media in creating this division of power. In clarifying the two objectives, the essay details various academic aspects such as: some general principles of paid higher education, language teaching in American academia, the value of scholarly degrees obtained in the West and in Eastern Europe, the American academic job market, the function of some scholarly organizations and journals, certain rhetorical and narrative means of writing post-modern literary histories, and the role of ideological and other clichés and biases in presenting Bulgarian culture in the US. The essay also shows how in American academia and media “minor” cultures are presented as things-in-themselves rather than things-for-themselves. The inquiry’s conclusion speaks critically of the role of Bulgarian intellectuals after the dismantling of communism, and hypothesizes that the obscurity of Bulgarian Studies could be overcome within the dialectics among a) symbolically marked reality, b) narratives, and c) reading, interpretation, and action. The study’s overall theoretical approach is in the Continental critical tradition, i.e., first, it presents things as they are and explains their man-made nature (deconstruction), and, second, it offers a better alternative (emancipation). The genre of the study is the marginalia, because this subsidiary scholarly genre is an exemplary implement for deconstruction and emancipation. The essay partakes in several disciplines: post-communist studies, theory of education, literary studies, narratology, Slavic Studies, Bulgarian Studies, semiotics, philosophy, theory of reading, and theory of action.

  • Issue Year: 2010
  • Issue No: 1
  • Page Range: 136-194
  • Page Count: 58
  • Language: Bulgarian