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Voices on Birchbark

Everyday Communication in Medieval Russia

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Jos Schaeken

In Voices on Birchbark Jos Schaeken explores the major role that writing on birchbark – an ephemeral, even ‘throw-away’ form of correspondence and administration – played in the vibrant medieval merchant city of Novgorod and other cities in the Russian Northwest. Birchbark literacy was crucial to the organization of Novgorodian society; it was integrated into a huge variety of activities and had a broad social basis; it was used extensively by the laity, by women as well as men, by villagers as well as landlords. Voices on Birchbark is the first book-length study of this unique corpus in English. By examining a representative selection of birchbark texts, Jos Schaeken presents fascinating vignettes of daily medieval life and a holistic picture of the pragmatics of communication in pre-modern societies.
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The Shape of Hebrew Poetry

Exploring the Discourse Function of Linguistic Parallelism in the Egyptian Hallel

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Matthew Ian Ayars

In The Shape of Hebrew Poetry, Matthew Ayars explores foregrounding and structural cohesion as the dual discourse function of linguistic parallelism in biblical Hebrew poetry through a robust application of Russian Formalist Roman Jakobson's conceptulisation of linguistic parallelism to the Egpytian Hallel (Psalm 113–118). Other hebraists and biblical Hebrew poetry specialists have long noted the importance of Jakobson's theory of parallelism for poetic texts of the Hebrew Bible, however, Ayars is the first to offer an application of Jakobsonian-based analysis to a poetic corpus of the Hebrew Bible.
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Normativity and Variety of Speech Actions embraces papers focused on the performative dimension of language. While all texts in the volume recognize speech primarily as a type of action, the collection is indicative of the multifaceted nature of J.L. Austin’s original reflection, which invited many varied research programmes. The problems addressed in the volume are discussed with reference to data culled from natural conversation, mediated political discourse, law, and literary language, and include normativity, e.g. types of norms operative in speech acts, speaker’s intentions and commitments, speaker-addressee coordination, but also speech actions in discursive practice, in literal and non-literal language, performance of irony, presupposition, and meaningful significant silence.

Contributors are: Brian Ball, Cristina Corredor, Anita Fetzer, Milada Hirschová, Dennis Kurzon, Marcin Matczak, Marina Sbisà, Iwona Witczak-Plisiecka, Maciej Witek, and Mateusz Włodarczyk.
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Textual Strategies in Ancient War Narrative

Thermopylae, Cannae and Beyond

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In this collected volume fourteen experts in the fields of Classics and Ancient History study the textual strategies used by Herodotus and Livy when recounting the disastrous battles at Thermopylae and Cannae. Literary, linguistic and historical approaches are used (often in combination) in order to enhance and enrich the interpretation of the accounts, which for obvious reasons confronted the authors with a special challenge. Chapters drawing a comparison with other battle narratives and with other genres help to establish genre-specific elements in ancient historiography, and draw attention to the particular techniques employed by Herodotus and Livy in their war narratives.
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Olga A. Pilkington

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Olga A. Pilkington

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Olga A. Pilkington