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[Xmca-l] Re: now out in paperback

​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

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.



On Tue, Jan 27, 2015 at 9:37 AM, larry smolucha <lsmolucha@hotmail.com>

> 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: smago@uga.edu
> > To: xmca-l@mailman.ucsd.edu
> > 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: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu [mailto:
> xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu] On Behalf Of Annalisa Aguilar
> > Sent: Monday, January 26, 2015 5:26 PM
> > To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity (xmca-l@mailman.ucsd.edu)
> > 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.

Attachment: elkonin1.pdf
Description: Adobe PDF document

Attachment: elkonin2.pdf
Description: Adobe PDF document