Novosibirsk State Pedagogical University Bulletin, 2016, No.6, pp.139-149
81’42, 82-3

The cultural potential of dictionaries and search for the genre in contemporary literature

Chernyak V. D. 1 (St. Petersburg, Russian Federation), Chernyak M. A. 1 (St. Petersburg, Russian Federation)
1 Herzen State Pedagogical University of Russia

The article investigates the properties of dictionaries and other reference books that are relevant for everyday awareness and sought-after by contemporary literature. Dictionaries and their genre variations (encyclopedias, handbooks, thesauri) become the focal point of and give an impetus to human creativity. Alphabetical order as the crucial characteristic of the dictionary form is utilized by modern authors to develop new genre forms. Written works exploiting the dictionary form may be described in terms of deliberate hypertextuality that is pertinent to the mindset of a contemporary person and meets readers’ expectations. Dictionaries can be seen as a genre matrix whose properties include strict order, dynamic nature and stability, or as a structure allowing room for creative developments.
The article deals with the examples of Russian contemporary literature (a novel, a collection of essays, a novelized encyclopedia) that employ the dictionary form. Most commonly, such example include non-fiction, contain elements of mixing genres, gamification, different forms of linguistic reflection, deliberately mimic the academic style, and are often targeted at children.


contemporary literature, dictionary, dictionary form, alphabetical order, hypertextuality, genre, non-fiction

For citation:
Chernyak V. D., Chernyak M. A. The cultural potential of dictionaries and search for the genre in contemporary literature. Novosibirsk State Pedagogical University Bulletin, 2016, no. 6, pp. 139–149. DOI:

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Date of the publication 26.12.2016