Among the important issues in this note from Francine is the importance of the work of D.B. Elkonin to MCA, especially given the widespread interest in play and imagination. I have now recovered Elkonin's book on play, which appeared in English in 2005. I attach here only the editor's preface and first chapter, uncertain as to interest in the group. mike On Tue, Jan 27, 2015 at 9:37 AM, larry smolucha <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote: > Message from Francine Smolucha: > > Dear Peter and XMCA colleagues, > > I must respectively disagree with the Peter's argument that understanding > Vygotsky's writings (akin to interpreting them) has to be left to elite > Vygotsky translators (like Van de Veer). I prefer an approach that views > Vygotsky for Everyman (and Woman). An analogy can be found with the way > anybody can find inspirational quotes from any great literature such as > the Bible > or the U.S. Constitution/Declaration of Independence. Of course there are > those Biblical scholars, and scholars of Constitutional Law, who would > look down > their noses at the common man's understanding of passages from these works. > It comes down to the difference between analysis and inspiration. > > My pioneering translations of Vygotsky's three papers on the development of > imagination and creativity were done in the 1980's on my own. I was a > graduate > student and community college professor (low status in academia). My > interpretations > stand on their own and are still viable today. For the record, I have > found that > the interpretations of Vygotsky advanced by Van de Veer, Valsinar, > Wertsch, Daniels, > (and yes even Michael Cole) have been shaped by Leontiev's Activity > Theory and the > Soviet era Russian psychologists like Vladimir Zinchenko. There are a > couple > Russian psychologists who have concurred with my assessment - Elena > Budrova told > me that my understanding was consistent with the El'konin approach to > Vygotsky. > [I have also read El'konin's Psychology of Play in Russian - there is no > published English translation] The El'Konin approach was suppressed in the > Soviet Union by the establishment psychologists of Activity Theory. Also, > Tatiana Akhutina and I found we shared an understanding of Vygotsky based > on our shared appreciation of Luria's work on the > prefrontal cortex. > > I do agree with Peter in that scholarly works based on a Vygotskian > approach need > to have citations, and a bibliography from several of Vygotsky's works > (even better > citing Russian publications of Vygotsky's works.) This further establishes > the scholarly > authority of the interpretation. Merely citing passages from Mind in > Society is no longer > adequate. > > > > > From: email@example.com > > To: firstname.lastname@example.org > > Date: Tue, 27 Jan 2015 11:34:40 +0000 > > Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: now out in paperback > > > > Annalisa, my apologies for recycling things I've already written. > Perhaps the following helps with your question. From Smagorinsky, P. > (2011). Vygotsky and literacy research: A methodological framework. Boston: > Sense. Pp. 4-6 > > > > Problems in Translation > > Reading extensively in Vygotskian scholarship seems critical to > referencing him knowledgeably, given the challenges that Vygotsky's writing > presents to the 21st Century reader. Among these challenges is the problem > that most of his readers, particularly in North America, encounter him > through translation. In Daniels, Cole, and Wertsch's (2007) collection of > international papers outlining a Vygotskian perspective, a number of the > contributors are fluent speakers of Russian. However, even those whom I > consider to be conversant with Vygotsky's original writing-those whose > publications are rife with references to works of Vygotsky that are only > available in Russian-are cautious about their grasp of both the language > and the concepts. > > Michael Cole, who has spoken Russian for many decades, who lived > in the for-mer Soviet Union during his internship with A. R. Luria, who > served as co-editor and co-translator of Mind in Society (Vygotsky, 1978), > whose leadership in the Laboratory of Comparative Human Cognition has > helped to shape worldwide extensions of Russian psychology, who was the > founding editor of the journal Mind, Culture, and Activity, and who has > produced a number of foundational works in the Vygotskian tradition, wrote > in response to my inquiry that "I have been writing jointly with [Russian > Natalia Gajdamaschko] precisely because I feel so strongly the need for > more than simple translation help in dealing with the meta-psychology and > national ethos that is the relevant context for understanding the local > words" (M. Cole, personal communication). James Wertsch, who has spent > considerable time in the Soviet Union, Russia, and many former Soviet > states where Russian remains the lingua franca, and who has translated > Vygotsky into English (e.g., Wertsch, 1981), also backs off from claims > that his knowledge of Russian could be termed fluent (J. Wertsch, personal > communication). > > As someone whose only linkage to Vygotsky's Byelorussian roots > comes through my grandparents' origins in Vygotsky's hometown of Gomel, I > read the qualifiers by Cole and Wertsch as cautions regarding any claims to > understanding Vygotsky for those of us who speak no Russian at all. I rely > on the translations of others, including those who express limited > confidence in their own fluency. Most North American readers face this same > problem, and so the challenges of reading a major thinker only in > translation-especially translation that spans alphabets, cultures, > concepts, and other formidable barriers-are thus worth reviewing here. > > At present there are abundant Vygotskian texts available to the > English lan-guage reader: six volumes of collected works in publication, > additional books from his oeuvre available (e.g., Vygotsky, 1971, 1997; > Vygotsky & Luria, 1993), key texts subjected to multiple translations, and > a major project now underway in Russia to make his entire output available > to English-speaking readers. Yet Vygotsky remains a complex figure and > difficult scholar to grasp, and for a variety of reasons. In his > "Translator's Foreword and Acknowledgements" to The Collected Works, Volume > 3, Van der Veer says, "I have not attempted to improve Vygotsky's style of > writing although it was at times difficult to refrain from doing so. It is > clear that Vygotsky . . . never rewrote a text for the sake of improving > its style and readability. Hence the redundancy, the difficulty to follow > the thread of his argument, the awkward sentences, etc." (p. v). > > Meshcheryakov (2007) notes that Vygotsky produced 190 works within > the ten-year span that comprised his career, many of which "were written > very quickly, in almost telegraphic style. Some works remain unfinished. It > is certainly possible that some of the works that were published > posthumously were not yet intended for publication" (p. 155). Daniels et > al. (2007) assert that "It is difficult to reconcile some of the writing > from the early 1920s with that which was produced during the last 2 years > of his life. These rapid changes, coupled with the fact that his work was > not published in chronological order, make synthetic summaries of his work > difficult" (p. 2). So in addition to the difficulty of the ideas Vygotsky > produced, his rendering of them into text made for challenging reading, no > matter how well-prepared the reader is. > > Even those with extraordinary fluency in Vygotsky's work typically > consult others to help with their understanding. Van der Veer, a native of > the Netherlands, relates in his translator's introduction to the Collected > Works, Volume 3 that "After I had translated the whole volume [from Russian > to English], I carefully checked my translation against the German and > Spanish translations of the same volume" (1997, p. v). With five languages > at play in his effort to translate Vygotsky's al-ready-difficult prose and > concepts (German, Spanish, Russian, English, and Dutch), Van der Veer > further enlisted feedback from a host of colleagues (mostly European) in > order to amend Vygotsky's "sloppy" approach to citation by includ-ing > appropriate references and footnotes to provide depth, detail, and > clarification to the text. > > Van der Veer's (1997) meticulous approach to rendering Vygotsky > into English suggests one key lesson to be learned from reading Vygotsky > with any insight: that claims to understanding or implementing ideas must > be undertaken with care and caution. I refer again to Van der Veer's work > in underscoring the importance of reading more than just excerpts (or > summaries of excerpts, or summaries of those summaries in textbooks) from > Mind in Society in claiming a Vygotskian perspec-tive. In his review of an > Italian translation of Thinking and Speech that post-dates any version of > the text available in English, Van der Veer makes the remarkable point that > > Unfortunately, neither in English nor in any other language has a > reliable repub-lication of Thought and Language been available. Leaving > aside the questions that can be raised concerning the original Soviet 1934 > edition (Vygotsky did not see the book in print and the editor, > Kolbanovsky, changed some of the wordings to make the book more palatable > for the ideological leaders), we know that the later 1956 and 1982 Soviet > editions were marred by many mistakes and plain falsifications. All of the > existing translations into English, or any other language, took these > unreliable later editions as their point of departure. As a result, readers > unable to read Russian or find a copy of the original 1934 edition have > had, until now, no authoritative text of Thought and Language available. > (p. 83; cf. van der Veer, 1987, for a critical review of Kozulin's 1986 > translation of Thought and Language, which to van der Veer is more properly > translated as Thinking and Speech) > > I am impressed that Van der Veer is now sufficiently fluent in at > least six lan-guages to read Vygotsky and then make this judgment; I am > alarmed that he nonetheless states that "Vygotsky obviously preferred > principled opponents, such as Pavlov, who made their own original > contribution to science and invented their own scientific vocabulary to > mediocre university professors, such as the present writer, who can only > summarize what others have discovered" (2007, p. 37). If I'm not > sufficiently daunted to learn that Van der Veer regards himself as a > relative mediocrity, I cringe yet further when I realize that even though > I've been referencing Vygotsky in my own work since the early 1990s, I > probably am basing my understanding on inaccurate and incomplete > translations. It becomes important, then, for me and no doubt others to > engage with the work of Vygotskian scholars who have read his Russian texts > in order to develop a clearer grasp of the ideas that I believe I am > drawing on. > > If problems of direct translation of Vygotsky's work were not > enough of a chal-lenge, the fact that he did not necessarily pen his own > texts presents another. His magnum opus, Thinking and Speech, was published > in 1934, the year he died; he dictated sections from his sickbed, no doubt > contributing to the text's notorious difficulty (Zinchenko, 2007). Further, > some of what is published under his name is taken from his student's > lecture notes or other stenographic records, undoubtedly with gaps in > transcription and reformulation in expression (e.g., a set of lectures > included in the Collected Works, Volume 5: "The Crisis of the First Year," > "Early Childhood," "The Crisis at Age Three," "The Crisis at Age Seven"; > Vygotsky, 1998b). Making definitive claims, as do Gredler and Shields > (2004), regarding what Vygotsky did and did not say, is thus a precarious > undertaking that even the most reputable U. S. Vygotskian scholars should > attempt with considerable caution and temperance. > > > > > > -----Original Message----- > > From: email@example.com [mailto: > firstname.lastname@example.org] On Behalf Of Annalisa Aguilar > > Sent: Monday, January 26, 2015 5:26 PM > > To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity (email@example.com) > > Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: now out in paperback > > > > Wow! > > > > This book looks really cool! Thanks for bringing it to listserv > consciousness, Peter! > > > > I did not know that Vygotsky was notoriously indifferent to his reader's > sensibilities. I do not know what that means? > > > > Kind regards, > > > > Annalisa > > > > > > > > http://www.bloomsbury.com/us/lev-vygotsky-9781472504920/ > > > > > > 12-18-2014 > > · > > About Lev Vygotsky > > > > Lev Vygotsky, the great Russian psychologist, had a profound influence > on educational thought. His work on the perception of art, > cultural-historical theory of the mind and the zone of proximal development > all had an impact on modern education. > > > > This text provides a succinct critical account of Vygotsky's life and > work against the background of the political events and social turmoil of > that time and analyses his cross-cultural research and the application of > his ideas to contemporary education. René van der Veer offers his own > interpretation of Vygotsky as both the man and anti-man of educational > philosophy, concluding that the strength of Vygotsky's legacy lies in its > unfinished, open nature. > > > > Table Of Contents > > > > Foreword > > Series Editor's Preface > > Preface > > > > Introduction > > > > Part I: Intellectual Biography > > 1. Lev Vygotsky > > > > Part II: Critical Exposition of Vygotsky's Work 2. Early Writings 3. > Creating Cultural-historical Theory 4. The Zone of Proximal Development 5. > Cross-cultural Education > > > > Part III: The Reception, Influence and Relevance of Vygotsky's Work > Today 6. Contemporary Educational Research 7. Conclusions > > > > Bibliography > > Name Index > > Subject Index > > > > Reviews > > > > "In this concise intellectual biography of L. S. Vygotsky, eminent > Vygotskian authority René van der Veer has written an accessible account of > the major periods of Vygotsky's career, reviewing the development of > Vygotsky's thinking in plain and often witty language, a service of > immeasurable importance, given Vygotsky's notorious indifference to his > readers' sensibilities... This volume is straightforward and edifying > enough for undergraduates, and stimulating and informative enough for those > who have been immersed in Vygotskian scholarship for many decades." - > Peter Smagorinsky, The University of Georgia, USA, > > > > -- It is the dilemma of psychology to deal with a natural science as an object that creates history. Ernst Boesch.
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