The Dictionary in Print and in the Cloud

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Modern Language Association
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Benedict Anderson's "philological-lexicographic revolution" and after. Cultural standardization and fixity in the regime of print-capitalism; implications of fluid lexicographical practice and access online. Abstracts by March 15 for possible Special Session at the MLA convention, Los Angeles, Jan. 6-9, 2011.

In _Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism_ (1983) Benedict Anderson closely identified the standardizing effects of lexicography with what he called "print-capitalism," itself linked to "the origins of national consciousness." Anderson's schematic references to "the lexicographical revolution in Europe" invite exemplification and critique. Also, in recent decades the lexicographical revolution has moved from print to cyberspace and the cloud. What do projects like, Wiktionary,, and DWDS, as well as Google's "define:" function, imply about communities constructed by "the dictionary" online today?

Given sufficient interest I may edit a group of such papers for publication; therefore I invite proposals also from people who will not attend the MLA convention.

Michael Hancher
Professor of English, University of Minnesota
President, Dictionary Society of North America (

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