Final Call for Multilingualism and Theory: Critical Intersections, ACLA 2017

deadline for submissions: 
September 23, 2016
full name / name of organization: 
Kate Costello, University of Oxford

Multilingualism and Theory: Critical IntersectionsSeminar at ACLA 2017, Utrecht, the Netherlands July 6-9, 2017

Final call: Deadline for abstracts is 11:59 PM Pacific Time on Sept. 23.

Multilingualism has emerged in the past few years as a site of critical attention within comparative literature and world literature. The myth of monolingualism and the presumed equivalency between nation and national language have given way to a new mode of scholarship that privileges the plurality and heterogeneity of languages and cultures. Despite this proliferation of critical attention, the methodological framework for discussing multilingualism remains undefined. To this effect, this seminar invites papers that address wider theoretical issues that surround multilingualism, especially with regard to the revisiting of the key terminology of the debate. Papers may examine this phenomenon on the level of text, the literary production of a single author, several authors or society as a whole.

How are multilingual competencies manifested in a text? What are the playful, covert or transgressive ways that are languages creatively deployed in a seemingly monolingual text? How can we read these texts ‘multilingually’, in the words of Gustavo Pérez Firmat? What is the relationship between language and form, and how does multilingualism impress itself on the very structure of the text? How do interlingual and translingual practices work to create a poetics of the liminal? Can we begin to speak about a uniquely multilingual aesthetic?

In the wake of Reine Meylaert’s view that ‘at the heart of multilingualism, we find translation’, we seek to explore the complexity of translating multilingual literature and the practice of self-translation. Why is multilingualism often associated with untranslatability? Turning to fictional representations of multilingualism, how do writers create the illusion of other languages in a monolingual text? How is translation without the original constructed in these instances? Can multilingualism challenge our understanding of binary concepts of target and source text/language/culture in translation studies?

How do multilingual writers utilize their linguistic competencies to push back against hierarchies of power and hegemonic practice? What are the intersections between multilingualism and post-colonial studies? How can we address the multiple linguistic competencies of an author in critical scholarship and why is this often overlooked?  How does translation of a multilingual text impact processes of canonization? In what ways can multilingual criticism challenge and dislodge the concept of the ‘native speaker’? What is the interplay between gender, class and linguistic competencies? What role should languages of mobility, prestige languages and accent play in critical theory? Are identity politics still relevant in studies of critical multilingualism?

We welcome papers that take these questions as a point of departure as well as other theoretically innovative approaches to multilingualism and linguistic complexity in literary analysis. Potential participants are encouraged to contact the organizers before submitting abstracts through the ACLA portal. 

Seminar Organizers: Visnja Krstic, University of Belgrade and Kate Costello, University of Oxford