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CITY AS SEMIOTIC SPACE

Cultural code of the city

Abstract

The article explores one of the modern trends in the semiotic analysis of the city and urban environment — the study of the cultural code of the city. In the contemporary aca­de­mic discourse, the importance of studying the cultural code of the city is growing not so much as a phenomenon but as a system of decoding and cognizing each specific city in its own con­text. This aspect is closely related to the analysis of the problem of enhancing urban identity and local patriotism, as well as identifying the unique cultural meanings of the city as part of exp­loring its image in the external environment. As the basis for the study of the cultural code of the city, it is proposed to consider the following factors encoding of urban environ­ment: a) nature and climate, b) texts, where the city is conceptualized and presented in litera­ry context, c) historical events associated with the city, d) spatial characteristics, e) symbolic relationship with famous individuals (“geniuses of place”). The process of coding is inf­luenced by other features of the city, which form economic, culinary, tourist, digital and other codes of the city, and their decoding can be carried out both on the everyday level and on the expert (academic) level. The author identifies the main ways of expressing, capturing and communicating the city’s cultural code in signs of different origin.

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Poetical text as a way of organizing city space

Abstract

Since the sixties of the twentieth century, different algorithms for using poetic texts in the transformation of urban space have emerged. Poetic discourse is being increasingly contextualized in space, whose role in the contemporary cultural system and specific tasks of urbanism has been growing. In the urban context, poetry may acquire different forms — street performances, advertisements, murals and other types of visual poetry. It may turn the city into a venue for a festival of urban poetry. The poetic text interacts with urban objects (monuments, train stations, airports, bus stops, and benches), including QR codes and other technical means. The article explores the process of integrating poetic texts into urban space using the example of the Netherlands, Belgium, Russia, Spain and countries of Latin America. Urban poetry contributes to overcoming the linearity and elitism of the poetic text, shifting the emphasis from verbal to the visual or performative component of the text, and strengthening the function of the addressee. As a result, poetry acquires an applied character. The city becomes an instrument of mediated poetic communication and can be used for the representation of the city.

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Visual text of medieval Vladimir: the analysis of the dominant image of cathedral exteriors

Abstract

The article attempts to determine the conceptual foundations for analyzing the influence of the artistic design of the temples of medieval Vladimir on the formation of the urban sacred space. The study aims to use the example of Vladimir during the reign of Andrei Bogolyubsky and Vsevolod III to substantiate the city-forming significance of exterior sculptural programs as a visual text that encodes the key parameters of the semantic organisation of urban environment. Hermeneutic presuppositions and initial cultural conditions for such an analysis are formulated. Based on the visual semiotics of Umberto Eco, it is shown that the external temple decoration of Vladimir acts both as an aesthetic object and as a semiotic construction. In line with the logical semantics of Gottlob Frege, the denotative (meaningful) and connotative (semantic) levels of coding and decoding of sacred visual texts of Vladimir cathedrals are defined. The basic references of the central image of the exterior plastics — the biblical David, as well as those narratives that are determined by these references are classified. The mechanism of localisation of universal religious narratives is shown through the distinction between text and subtext. Thus, the role of external temple decoration in constructing a sacred urban topic is determined. As a result, the possibility of interpreting the temple decoration of medieval Vladimir as a visual text is substantiated, which, firstly, expresses the implied meanings associated with specific images through code and context, and, secondly, translates these meanings into the environment, forming the cultural space of the city.

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Feodosia as a city and a visual text (Aivazovsky Project)

Abstract

The article describes the personality of Ivan K. Aivazovsky, a man of 'frontiers' who lived in a polyphonic city where Russian, Armenian and Turkic were spoken. The message of the article is the following: Aivazovsky was not only a gifted artist but also a diplomat, a responsible and upstanding citizen who appreciated the values of the city and was concerned about its problems, Armenian community and people. Aivazovsky changed the social space of the city, the (infra)structure and the image of Feodosia. The marinist was a man of culture, for whom money was important only as a form of donation and charity, ennobling the city and generating a new urban text and urban syntagmas. His works were a product of Feodosia, but at the same time, the painter’s personality was shaped by the city/sea. It was this combination of talent and the spirit of the place that synergised transnational culture: the periphery of tsarist Russia produced the central texts of the imperial policy of cultural memory.

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Typographic landscape in urban space: a sociolinguistic approach

Abstract

This paper suggests a sociolinguistic approach to typographic landscape analysis. Typography is discussed as a semiotic resource with meaning-making potential. The paper argues that typographic variation provides dynamic indexical links to social practice. It obtains its ‘social voice’ and becomes an integral part of the social context in which it is perceived as typical and able to generate particular socially loaded meanings. This research is in line with contemporary social semiotics, interactional linguistics, and discourse studies and is based on typographic meaning as a key notion providing the basis for social actors’ ideological ascriptions. Typography and typographic meaning formation are discussed within modern Russian urban space. It is argued that urban area enables addressing agency and interaction aspects of social communication. The city space provides access points for observing, shaping and interpreting meanings in the social context. As cases in point, the paper discusses the typefaces such as Antiqua font used in pre-revolutionary Russia, lettering imitating the font of Soviet newspapers, Handwriting font, and Stencil font and their em­bed­dedness in current socio-cultural practice. The analysis uses advertising, social and com­mercial texts. The findings indicate that typography should be considered as a social meaning which results from indexical connections of a sign and the context it is used in. Semio­tification of space allows observing stronger reflexivity and, therefore, metapragmatic activity of communicants.

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CITY AS WORD AND IMAGE

Gorod and grad in the Russian poetry of the 18th century

Abstract

Urban motifs in Russian poetry have not yet become the subject of comprehensive investigation in terms of the evolution of poetic conceptualization of the world, the frequency, semantics and syntagmatics of the key lexemes — 'gorod' and 'grad'. Meanwhile, the analy­sis of the poetic, ethnic and linguistic picture of the world, closely connected with diachronic lexicology, phraseology and grammar, allows important conclusions concerning the history of the national semiosphere and conceptosphere based on the analysis of the works of outstanding representatives of culture and literature of a nation. In the article, the author analyzes the usage, frequency, valency potential, and the system of poetic senses of the lexemes 'gorod' and 'grad' using the poems of reformers of the Russian language and litera­ture of the 18th century — Kantemir, Trediakovsky, Lomonosov, Sumarokov, and, in com­pa­rative terms, against a wider temporal perspective, the preceding and subsequent texts of Rus­sian poetry. The lexeme 'grad' was often used in Classicist and Romantic poetry. From the 1830s onwards, it was used less frequently in its full version 'gorod'. The poets employed the lexemes 'grad' and 'gorod' to form tropes and figures of speech, striving to expand the tradi­tio­nal syntagmatics, especially in epithets. Lyrical texts retained sacred meanings and biblical allusions (sacred city, temple, heavenly garden, holy ‘vertograd’) in the development of urbanistic and battle themes.

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Cities, mountains, roads... (the image of a city in formulaic paronymic collocations)

Abstract

The article analyses the collocations of the lexeme 'gorod (city)' with its paronyms — words that are pronounced or written in a similar way, not necessarily connected etymo­lo­gi­cally. These collocations, which appear in paronymic attraction and repeated many times, are called formulaic. The research presented in the article confirms the assumption that the stable pa­ronymic collocations do not unite random words but a type of mythologemes — 'gorod’, ‘go­ra’ and ‘doroga’. They reflect the concepts of two types of cities: concentric, eleva­ted on the mountain, and eccentric, located in the boundaries, encouraging to overcome them. The article explores the use of formulaic collocations ‘gorod — gora’, ‘gorod — doroga; ‘gorod — doroga — gora’ during the 20th and early 21st centuries. The research is based on the mate­rial of the poetic subcorpus of the National Corpus of the Russian language and the Card In­dex of the Dictionary of Russian Poetry of the 20th century. The study employs a variety of me­thods — corpus, semantic, syntactic and textual analyses.

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KOENIGSBERG/KALININGRAD AS IMAGE AND CONCEPT

The geopoetics of the city K.: the optics of perception

Abstract

This article is a study of literary representations of the text 'Königsberg-Kaliningrad' analysed from the point of view of geopoetics. Based on the descriptions of Königsberg-Kaliningrad in Bolotov's memoirs "Life and adventures of Andrey Bolotov, described by himself for his descendants", Brodsky's poem "Einem alten Architekten in Rom" and the novel "Königsberg" by Buida, the authors explore the sensorial perception of the city by the writers and establish its correlation with the extraliterary metapositions reflected in their texts. It is argued that the basis of the description of Königsberg in Bolotov's memoirs is a detailed mapping of the city, interwoven with a feeling of surprise, which results in an emotional discovery of the unfamiliar space. Brodsky's poetic optics is interpreted as a transition from 'vision' to 'speculation': an imaginary tour of Königsberg leads the poet from the sensory (visual and aural) perception of the city to the understanding of its non-material, spiritual and noumenal essence. Buida associates the space of Königsberg and Kaliningrad with the idea of myth construction. Shifting from the real Kaliningrad to the imaginary Königsberg, the author fills in the semiotic incompleteness of the city as a sign. Based on the comparison of the three types of perception, it is concluded that for different authors, the perception and the understanding of the city K. is associated with its transcendence from the personalization of the material essence of the city to the transition beyond the material, to the city as a noumenon, a thing-in-itself.

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City as an explicant of the key concepts in Dostoevsky’s “The Adolescent

Abstract

The perception of Fyodor Dostoevsky as a literary painter of St. Petersburg has become an axiom in literary criticism. However, modern researchers pay attention to the significance of other cities for the writer, which are inextricably linked both with his biography and his work. Fyodor Dostoevsky not only instantly noticed visual metaphors and historical and cultural narratives of the places where he was destined to be, but he also included presciently read city texts in his literary works. This article is aimed to identify those ‘local texts’ of the urban space in the novel “The Adolescent”, which contribute to the reconstruction and representation of its basic concepts. This research affirms the consistency and integrity of the artistic geo-panorama created by Fyodor Dostoevsky. The creation and representation of concepts both by the writer and his heroes are carried out by comparing individual points and forming a kind of textual ‘isolines’. As an analytical and illustrative material, various mo­difications of such “isolines” of are given, the elements of which are St. Petersburg, Mos­cow, Ko­nigsberg, and Ems. The local texts of these cities contribute to the restoration of the nucleus meanings of the basic concepts of the penultimate work by Fyodor Dostoevsky, which include: disorder, ugliness, goodness, random family, strength, heart, living life, pilgrimage, wandering, care, and flunkeyism.

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The image of Kaliningrad in the perception of university students

Abstract

The image of the city as one of the most important elements of modern post-industrial reality is an essential element in the world picture of any individual. The research aims to study the peculiarities of perception and verbal representation of the image of Kaliningrad by the students of the Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University. The objectives of the research determined the choice of a comprehensive methodology, which included the method of unfini­shed sentences, as well as the methods of interpretation and modelling. As a result of this re­search, four interrelated constituents of the image of Kaliningrad were determined — external (architectural and landscape), cultural and historical, anthropological, social and household. The verbal representation of their structural and content characteristics was illustrated using the results of a survey based on the method of unfinished sentences, which was developed and con­ducted by the author.

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Representation of the image of Kaliningrad in the names of guided city tours

Abstract

The article offers a qualitative content analysis of the names of Kaliningrad city tours and identifies the main distinctive features of the image of the city represented in them. The name of the tour is a message sent by the tour operator to the addressee — the potential consumer of tourist services. This type of communication is not exclusively commercial; it has an indirect impact on the accomplishment of a broader range of socially significant goals, first and foremost, the formation of a positive image of the city. The success of communication does not only depend on the fact of the purchasing of the tour but on the social context associated with the subsequent actions of the addressee. The interaction of the sender of the message and its addressee may entail a serious discrepancy between the image of the city represented in the names of tours and the image formed after visiting the city, or the image formed after the tour itself. The study has shown that such a discrepancy in the image of Kaliningrad is typical because of the dichotomy Koenigsberg — Kaliningrad, the contrast between the German past and Russian present, and the intention to represent Koenigsberg as a city that still exists. The article provides recommendations for overcoming the discrepancy problem.

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