HOW NOT TO WRITE ON THE CIESZYN FOLK COSTUME: REFLECTIONS ON A MONOGRAPH
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Barbara Bazielich's (2006) monograph 'Strój cieszynski' (the Cieszyn costume) contains numerous apt statements, but also inaccuracies and mistakes. The discussion focuses on the defects. The text itself suffers from errors in the areas of editing, composition, orthography, punctuation, grammar and lexicon. Some statements are unclear. Apparently the publication had no professional editor. Factual problems are visible in a number of areas. Firstly, the presentation of the Cieszyn folk costume is spoiled by an unbalanced selection of illustrations, inaccurate and erroneous remarks on the evolution of the dress as well as contradictions. Secondly, there are shortcomings in the description of the ethnographic background, i.e. the specific population groups and regions, ethnic identity, religious diversity, and the geographic distribution of the varieties of folk dress discussed. Thirdly, as far as the historical background is concerned, flaws appear in the discourse used, passages concerning the ethnic composition of the population, the names given to the region, linguistic usage, the border that divided Cieszyn Silesia in 1920, and, moreover, the history of Silesia is obscured by misuse of the historical term 'zabory' (partitions) applicable to other parts of Poland. Fourthly, there are obvious geographical errors. In the area of the above issues, the most conspicuously debatable statements include those on the evolving form of the Cieszyn costume and the history of the ethnic and religious composition of the population. In parts the discourse employed is hardly academic. Namely, fact sometimes merges with opinion. Furthermore, views derived from written and oral sources are not assessed critically. Some passages are scarcely relevant to the topic under discussion and some issues are passed over. The narrative occasionally borders on propaganda. It appears that no knowledgeable reviewer was consulted before the book went into print. Consequently, the text remains as a work in progress and the Cieszyn folk costume still awaits its proper monograph.
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