[UPDATE] Comparative English: Reassessing Language and Literature Studies in a Globalized World

full name / name of organization: 
Myles Chilton, Chiba University; Ryan Melsom, independent researcher
contact email: 
chilton@L.chiba-u.ac.jp; r.melsom@gmail.com

The worldwide growth of English as a first and foreign language has by now necessitated the a term like ‘Global Englishes’ to describe the range of dialects and usages. Such a term calls attention to the de-coupling of the language from its Anglo-American ‘homes’, and to the popularity of English as a foreign subject of study. The place of Anglophone literary education, however, is less firm. Despite the fame of certain canonical Anglophone writers and the global domination of Anglophone publishing conglomerates, Anglophone literature is often taught in the service of language rather than literary education. The reason for this situation is clear enough: students want to learn to use English in order to make themselves more marketable to potential employers, and institutions have repositioned their English programs to meet that demand.

What does this mean for the future of Anglophone literary study? Will it exist only in an instrumentalized form, reserved for advanced EFL students? Graduate English programs continue to train students to be research-focused faculty in traditional English departments, yet junior faculty increasingly find themselves teaching composition, often to non-native English-speaking students. How can literature’s value be reconciled with the increasingly disparate expectations of students, institutions, and faculty? Can literary and language study somehow complement one another, both in the classroom, and in theory? In treating these questions, is it necessary to rethink critical assumptions about the Anglo-American centrism of English departments, wherever they may be?

We are inviting submission to an edited volume that takes up these questions, along with related interventions into the relationships between globalization, Anglophone literature, pedagogy, and theory. We are interested in submissions from non-Anglophone as well as Anglophone sites, although proposals in the latter case should address multilingual and multicultural student populations. Please submit a title and a detailed, 500-word abstract to both chilton@L.chiba-u.ac.jp and r.melsom@gmail.com by December 1, 2011. The proposals will go through an editorial review and the selections will be made by January 31, 2011. The 3000-word papers will be due by March 31, 2012. We welcome proposals of previously unpublished work.

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