Research Outline and the Proposed Terminology
Research Relevance and Symbolism
As international expert Nozaki argues, “the meanings that a nation establishes for its past (and so its identity) are always among the most contested, politically charged, and ideologically complex” (2008: 136). Another academic expert recently commented: “Every regime generates a symbolic programme which seeks to encapsulate the existing symbolic matrices and articulate what both society and regime stand for” (Gill, 2013: 2). Describing the Soviet system in particular, Gill observed that the “extent to which ideological values, assumptions, and ways of thinking permeated all aspects of public and private life” was at the highest level (2013: 3).
Overall, it seems Russian political leadership has taken hold of opportunities to utilize their national history curriculum as one means by which they can advance their various agendas. Recent research shows that “by framing the nation’s history as one of experienced, imagined, or anticipated traumatic events” (Oushakine, 2009: 5), and using certain words or/and visual images not only helps to develop “a sense of belonging” (2009: 5) but also significantly impacts students’ impressions about historical people, eras, and ideas.
Indeed, we have observed a growing use of textbooks characterized by particular text patterns and “extras” that Fairclough (2015), father of Critical Discourse Analysis, collectively calls visuals. Together with “verbals” these help establishing emotional bonds to content and demonstrate certain patterns of correct behavior, expressed in both direct and indirect (symbolic) ways. Fairclough emphasizes their specific synergy as “very often visuals and ‘verbals’ operate in a mutually reinforcing way which makes them very difficult to disentangle. Moreover, the relative social significance of visual imagery is increasing dramatically...” (2015: 60). In fact, a tendency toward an overall usage of symbolism, at both verbal and visual levels, is clearly evolving. As Cooper states, a symbol:
.goes beyond the individual. It is an external, or lower, expression of the higher truth that is symbolized, and is a means of communicating realities that might otherwise be either obscured by the limitations of language or too complex for adequate expression. (Cooper, 2013: 7)
Thus, while doing our research we also tried to designate and analyze the existing link between the textual portrayal of most popular and well established political, national and cultural symbols and their visual representation and define primary tendencies of their interactions and interconnections. For the same purposes we were looking for a more comprehensive term which would permit to show those hidden ties which combine text and a symbol, and allow to express an emotional link between the reader (a student in our case) with the textbook and its content, and describe the process of bridging the gap between an initial learner and a committed patriot.