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Abstract

In her paper, "Reading Liksom's Short Story 'We Got Married' in Post-communist Estonia," Malle Järve discusses the reception of Rosa Liksom's text in post-communist Estonia. After gaining independence, Estonians became exposed to varieties of literature including avant-garde texts which did not fit easily with the expectations and rules of interpretation developed during Soviet rule. Based on data collected in 1993 and 1998, Järve focuses on the cultural repertoire (discourses, stereotypes, values, literary expectations, etc.) used by readers while constructing meaning to the text, perceived predominantly as foreign/Other. Järve's objective is an attempt to explain: 1) who/what the Other in the text is and how "otherness" / "self" is identified socially and articulated in terms of gender roles, social class, nationality, etc., and 2) how the cultural repertoire/codes used and the contextualization of the text changed during the 1990s in Estonia. In the interpretations of Estonian readers in both samples, the traditional notions of gender roles as well as class-related and national distinctions/stereotypes played an important role. For example, the notion of "low life" in the text was often attributed to local Russians. Järve's findings refer to a cultural model where achievement, education, moderation, good manners, social status, and other external and behavioral characteristics are highly valued. Of note is that the text caused less confusion for the readers in 1998 than in 1993 and that it was interpreted increasingly within an audio-visual frame of reference. She includes in her analysis Finnish respondents' data where a differentiation can be observed between Estonian and Finnish perceptions and responses to the short story.

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