CFP: [Victorian] NAVSA 2008 panel: Victorian Culture and the "Science of Language"

full name / name of organization: 
Aaron S. Worth
contact email: 

This panel invites papers from a variety of disciplines exploring points
of contact between conceptions of language and the arts (and other fields
of cultural production) in Victorian Britain. The nineteenth century saw
the transformation of philology into “the science of language,” in
Müller’s phrase, witnessing the development of historical linguistics,
the emergence of evolutionary models of language, and the “discovery” of
language in the brain, as well as the publication of popular works on
language. Age-old questions were inserted into new paradigms, and asked
with a new urgency: post-Darwinian debates, for instance, over the
origins of language captured the imagination of artists as well as
scientists. Linguistic “theory” could intersect with artistic “practice”
in a number of ways, as with the poet William Barnes’s project of
English “purification.” New technologies of communication had a powerful
impact upon linguistic theory and practice, and Britons began to dream of
the global dissemination of English: a fantasy to be found in literature
as well as linguistics, De Quincey as well as Trench.

Possible topics include: the representation of linguistic theories,
models, or debates in literature and art; the impact of philology upon
popular culture; and the intersection of language study and colonialism.

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Received on Thu Apr 03 2008 - 06:42:54 EST