Studying the representation of dialect in literature: how and why? (25th September 2009)

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University of Sheffield
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The study of the representation of dialects of English in literature is a well-established field, but one that is approached with a range of different goals and methodologies by scholars depending upon their disciplinary background. For literary scholars, for example, the most significant aspects of dialect in literature will often be the narrative, poetic or artistic functions of the dialect. For dialectologists, the accuracy of the literary dialect and its relationship to real-world dialects tends to be the focus. For historians of linguistics, the attitudes expressed in the text, either overtly or covertly, towards different varieties of English are frequently the most interesting elements.

The purpose of this workshop is to bring researchers together from as many fields as possible to consider the reasons why the topic may be of interest to them personally, and to share and discuss methodologies for studying dialect representation. The day will comprise a mix papers by individuals working in the field of dialect representation, alongside roundtable discussions of specific issues and example texts. Confirmed participants so far include Sylvia Adamson, Joan Beal, Jackie Labbe, Lynda Mugglestone and Clive Upton.

This workshop is being organised to inaugurate the AHRC-funded project "Dialect Representation in British Fiction 1800-1836". However, we welcome participants and papers from the full range of English literature, and covering all literary genres. Papers that discuss particular specimens of dialect representation are welcome provided that they use the discussion of specific material in order to bring out larger methodological questions."

If you wish to participate in the workshop please send an e-mail to all the organisers ( before June 30 2009, briefly outlining your own disciplinary background and interest in the topic, and indicating whether or not you wish to give a paper.

Jane Hodson, University of Sheffield
Julie Millward, University of Sheffield
Lauren Stewart, University of Edinburgh