07 November 2011

Call for papers on (M)Other Tongues

Contributions are solicited for inclusion in the volume (M)Other Tongues. Papers may explore literary texts in any language discussing concepts of the mother tongue, its acquisition, its differentiation from other tongues, and whether it can be actually one, one’s own, or a mother’s language. Readings of literary texts are particularly welcome, but papers might as well pertain to the theory of autobiography and translation and to objects in other genres.

“The language in which we are speaking,” the protagonist of Joyce’s Portrait says in English about English, “will always be for me an acquired speech. I have not made or accepted its words.” Everyone acquires language, yet Joyce raises the question: How? Does a subject, a prospective speaker lacking nothing but a vocabulary to say “I,” acquire speech by way of reaching for and accepting a language that is thus “gained” as a mother tongue? Or is it not rather that language only allows to articulate an “I,” and hence shapes it? Authors from St. Augustine to Kafka, Nabokov and Canetti discuss what it means to acquire a mother tongue, to form and reshape the language that enables to speak – not least of being estranged from speech. Deleuze suggests that by bringing about a “destruction of the maternal language,” literature renders into an expressive, communicative medium what is otherwise just a suppressive structure. Yet if that can be done in literature, language must itself comprise the possibility to be altered; a mother tongue might indeed not be a language until it is spoken, which means: altered, reshaped, thus becoming a (m)other tongue.

Please submit 300-500 word abstracts to prade@lingua.uni-frankfurt.deDeadline: December 12, 2011.

01 November 2011

On translingual literature

From Natasha Lvovich of the City University of New York comes a report on last summer's Colloquium on Translingual Literature, plus ideas on more events we might be interested in.  Here are her email posts, with permission from her:

"A brief report on our successful interdisciplinary venture last summer: the colloquium on Translingual Literature (of 6 participants) that I coordinated at the International Symposium of Bilingualism (ISB8) in Oslo, Norway. This was the first time ever that literature was featured at the main international gathering of second language/
bilingualism scholars (!). Our group delivered fascinating diverse presentations, triggered genuine interest, and made useful connections with academics across the disciplines. To my knowledge, several publications may come out as a result of this.

"Perhaps we can continue in the same vein? Steven Kellman and I have been looking into possible venues, and a couple of suggestions have emerged:

"1. AILC/IACL 2013 (International Association of Comparative Literature), July 18-24 2013, Paris, Sorbonne.
The theme of the conference is Comparative Literature as a Critical Approach, and it seems to me that a group on Translingual Literature focused on interdisciplinary inter-lingual inquiry in the increasingly globalized world might be an irresistible proposition. There are two options for groups: a 1,5 hour seminar meeting over several days OR a workshop/roundtable meeting once. More info here:

"The deadline for group proposals is January 1, 2012. I am happy to coordinate an AILC group if there is enough interest and we make the deadline.

"2. MLA 2013, January 3-6, Boston, MA. There are several group possibilities there, including Special Sessions and Discussion Groups. Perhaps someone on this list can look into it and organize a gathering.

"There are of course other possibilities, including the next ISB (9) in Singapore."

A follow-up email:

"I am so glad I have ignited quite a few sparks here. Nobody stops us to have several panels organized simultaneously at different places. I will keep rolling our Translingual ball toward Paris - but recent
responses show that this is how we can make ourselves known as a growing field and call for attention in several disciplinary directions, organizing Translingual Lit groups at different gatherings. And this is how the snowball firms up and grows, right?

"More to come: The 19th ICL: Congres International des Linguistes, Geneva, July 22-27, celebrating the anniversary of Ferdinand De Saussure. Look it up: www.cil19.org. I use structural/semiotic approach to translingual texts, but I don't think as a group, we have a good chance at the purely linguistic conference. But who knows?

"Also, even though we missed AAAL (American Association of Aplied Linguistics) for 2012, we may have a good chance in 2013 in Dallas (see dates: http://www.aaal.org/displaycommon.cfm?an=1&subarticlenbr=8),
organizing in summer--especially because the new president of AAAL is now Aneta Pavlenko (congratulations, Aneta!), who strongly believes in using literature in L2/Bilingualism research.

"Since I've got a show of interest (across the continents and fields) for AILC 2013 in Paris, the Call for Proposals with the details will follow shortly. I am excited! Thank you!"