Issue 1 Introduction

We are proud to present Volume 1, Issue 1 of Universals and Contrasts, the journal of NYI, the New York-St. Petersburg Institute of Linguistics, Cognition and Culture.  NYI was founded in St. Petersburg, Russia in 2003 to promote interdisciplinary study of the human mind and human societies, and their interaction.  The Universals and Contrasts journal was launched in 2010 to provide a forum for NYI faculty and students representing a range of disciplines (and inter-disciplines) in the Humanities and Social Sciences to present their research. We are proud to present the first issue here, with the following articles:

Variability in Idiom Meanings
      Natalia Emelianova, St. Petersburg State University  
      Anna Maslennikova, St. Petersburg State University

Speaking Otherwise: Rita Dove’s Poetics of Speech and Silence  
      Polly Gannon, St. Petersburg State University

Henry David Thoreau’s Politics of Standing Aloof
     Greg Garvey - SUNY, Brockport

My Scattered Souls:
      The Multiplicity of Being in Amelia Rosselli’s English Poetry
      Amelia Glaser, University of California, San Diego

Queer in Transition
      Dijana Jelača, UMass, Amherst
      Danijela Lugarić, University of Zagreb

Russian Heritage Cinema and the Polish Question
      Izabela Kalinowska, Stony Brook University

Birds of a Feather… Wire Together:
      Creativity in Poetry and Natural Language Use
      Lászlo Komlósí, Universituy of Pecs

Slurring Words
      Ernest Lepore, Rutgers University

Imperial Retrospect: Peter the Great’s Ideologists Look Back on Kyiv
      Gary Marker, Stony Brook University

Spatial Segregation in the Russian Urban Environment
      Nikita Maslennikov, Higher School of Economics, St. Petersburg
      Lyubov' Spector, Higher School of Economics, St. Petersburg

Who Speaks the Truth? Writers vs. Lawyers
      Kathleen Parthé, University of Rochester

In an important way, the papers represented here reflect the spirit of the NYI project, and not only because the articles represent the work of scholars based at 11 institutions in 4 countries. More importantly, all of the articles address a phenomenon that is not easily categorized within the boundaries of traditional academic discipline boundaries. Thus the Gannon and Glaser articles discuss poetry, but in a manner quite distinct from the approach usually taken in traditional literature departments, drawing heavily on the social sciences and philosophy.   Garvey’s piece straddles the line between History and Literature. Jelača and Lugarić’s article discuss a social phenomenon from the standpoint of critical cultural theory. Kalinowska-Blackwood’s article on Russian Heritage Cinema has important consequences for political science and international relations.  Parthé’s piece is on the one hand a kind of literary analysis examines the Russian civil society before the Revolution not just through the prism of literary texts, but broadens the scope of her analysis by examining other records of social activism to reach new and interesting conclusions about the late imperial era., and on the other hand has great relevance for issues in law and society.  Marker’s piece is surely history, but addresses history of one period as perceived  during another period, and thus calls into question issues of historical context, and cross-cultural awareness, who looks at the Ukrainian question within the frame of empire building in the first part of the 18th Century, provides a nuanced reading of a variety of sources, but he places an analysis of Feofan Prokopovich’s drama “God’s Mercy Towards Ukraine” at the center of his contribution to historical scholarships.  s. N. Maslennikov & Spektor’s article on urban spatial segregation is both social science and cultural analysis, with important political ramification.   Finally, the articles by A. Maslennikova & Natalia Emelianova and Lepore are not easily categorized as Linguistics, though their concern is language use, because both approach the phenomenon in question from a unique perspective – the former through the analysis of metaphors not as they are usually used but as they manipulated and transformed, while the latter takes a philosophical approach to the linguo-cultural phenomenon of racially charged slur words.

We hope the readers from a wide range of fields will find the articles challenging and controversial, and we welcome response pieces for the 2nd edition of Universals and Contrasts, planned for the 10th NYI session, in July, 2012.

The editors,

John F. Bailyn (Stony Brook University, USA)

Izabela Kalinowska-Blackwood (Stony Brook University, USA)

Anna A. Maslennikova (St. Petersburg State University, Russian Federation)