Scenarios of Political Life between 1917 and 1922 in the Diary of Yury Gauthier: an Attempt at Cognitive Discourse Analysis

Marina Pantykina


Relying on linguistic methods, this interdisciplinary study describes the interaction of discourse and politics in the diary of Yu. V. Gauthier, a renowned Russian historian describing and analysing Russia’s political life between 1917 and 1922. In the first part of the article, the author analyses the methodological potential of cognitive discourse analysis and singles out cognitive structures (frames, situational models, and cognitive scenarios). Such structures, after they first appear in the experience of individual consciousness, start functioning in discourse, and after they become common knowledge, they begin influencing people’s decision making and, more particularly, make discourse and politics relevant. Special attention is paid to cognitive scenarios. They make up a database of discourse which includes knowledge of the events happening, the experience and mental attitudes of their participants, and the space and time conditions determining the construction of discourse. The author puts forward a typology of cognitive scenarios (event and mental scenarios) and the basic aspects of their study, i. e. temporal and cognitive linguistics. The second part concerns the diary as a special form of discourse and methods related to singling out cognitive scenarios related to it. The author proves that the compositional and plot structure of the diary corresponds to the prototypical positions of cognitive scenarios. The latter are regarded as a source for structuring diary entries. Referring to the aforementioned principles of cognitive discourse analysis, the final part of the article considers the diary of Yu. V. Gauthier. The article introduces the exposition of cognitive scenarios Gauthier uses to comprehend the political life of revolutionary and post-revolutionary Russia. Special attention is paid to one of the three cognitive scenarios. With reference to it, the article explains the conditions underlying the formation of attitude, the peculiarities of identification and discourse competence of the author of the diary. It singles out elements of the diary as a special form of discourse: proposition, explication, implication, and inference. Based on their analysis and description, the author singles out mental attitudes typical of the intelligentsia of the time, i.e. the absence of cognitive scenarios related to the future, the predominance of event scenarios over mental scenarios, implicit identification accompanied by detailed explications of attitude; the impossibility of solving the search for identity in relation to both old and new political forces and representatives of academia. The author makes conclusions that make it possible to revise existing notions of political dispensation, the motives of the revolutionary activity of the Provisional Government, the people, Soviet power, and the role of the intelligentsia in the political life of Russia between 1917 and 1922.


Yu. V. Gauthier; cognitive discourse approach; cognitive scenario; diary; political life; political forces; 1917 Revolution


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