Literature and Language Difference Conference

The question of language difference and multilingualism is one of social justice. It is one of reflecting on and representing our lived language realities, the way individuals exist and communicate within and across languages. Despite the mire of efforts, rooted in a history of colonialism, to establish homogenous, standardised languages, including theories of ‘separate bilingualism’ which ‘exclude “illegitimate” language mixing’ (Baynham and Lee 2019), a number of approaches to comprehending and theorising plural language have emerged. Many theories of this kind are found in (post-)colonial studies, including Khatibi’s bi-langue and Bhabha’s hybridity. But multilingualism as we seek to understand it goes beyond the modern and early modern contexts of empire, spatially and temporally. The ‘English’ of Britain, for example, is one such setting for languaging (Becker 1991) that is porous, dynamic, palimpsestic. Theory and practice that conceive languages as standardised, fixed entities, commit to the reification of linguistic borders—borders of nation, of race, of class.

The intention of this year’s conference is to explore the existing and emerging approaches to language difference, with the wider, long-term purpose of disrupting the aforementioned borders. Discussions may seek to assess the hidden multilingualism or language difference in contemporary contexts, or identify methods of opening multilingual spaces that undermine language difference as a crossing of borders, instead promoting language as fluid and porous. We invite 20-minute presentations that propose theoretical approaches to language difference. We welcome (but do not require) joint proposals and innovative styles of presentation. These may address, but are not limited to, the following questions and topics:

  • What is the role of literature, art, music, etc. in promoting or undermining language difference?
  • What literary and translational ‘reactions’ (Sakai 2012) create or reinforce borders?
  • How can translation work towards language difference, as opposed to language separation?
  • How is language difference understood or affected in various disciplines (e.g., translation studies, literature, language learning, queer studies)?
  • Multimodal, creative approaches;
  • Multilingualism in the education sector and/or multilingual pedagogy;
  • Doing or performing language and/or languaging.

Following  this conference, we aim to collate and publish the proceedings for the OCCT Review’s first special issue.

This event requires registration. Please register via GoogleForms here.

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Thursday, 16 May

9:00–9:15 | Coffee & Registration

9:15–9:30 | Opening Remarks

9:30–11:00 | Panel 1: Translation & Transcreation
Chaired by Sarah Fengler (University of Oxford)

  • ‘Finding Ortese’s Voice for Ferrante Fans: A Stylometric Study of Neapolitan Chronicles’, Patience Haggin (Independent Scholar)
  • ‘Prismatic Foreignness and Chinese Aesthetic Alterity in English Translations of Classical Chinese Poetry, 1880s–1920s’, Lynn Qingyang Lin (Lingnan University)
  • ‘Adapting as Translating: Postcolonial, Multilingual Performances of Canonical Plays’, Sandrine F. Rajaonarivony (University of Pennsylvania) and Julia Pelosi-Thorpe (University of Pennsylvania)

11:00–11:30 | Coffee Break

11:30–12:30 | Keynote: ‘Translationality: Literature Across Language(s)’, Matthew Reynolds (University of Oxford)
Chaired by Alyssa Ollivier-Tabukashvili (University of Oxford)

12:30–14:00 | Lunch

14:00–15:30 | Panel 2: Translanguaging & Transformation
Chaired by Trisevgeni Bilia (University of Oxford)

  • ‘Translanguaging and the Translation of Genesis B’, Elliot Vale (Independent Scholar)
  • ‘Linguistic Difference, Translation, and Translanguaging: How do science fiction authors of Chinese ethnicity complicate the discussion?’, Ian Tao Huang (University of Hong Kong)
  • ‘Translating the Urdu Ghazal: A Transcreative Landscape of Disruption and Dissemination’, Saad Siddiqui (University of Cambridge)

15:30–16:00 | Coffee Break

16:00–17:30 | Panel 3: Language Difference in Contexts
Chaired by Ola Sidorkiewicz (University of Oxford)

  • ‘An Adoptive Mother Tongue: Italian in the Holocaust Works of Edith Bruck and Helena Janeczek’, Adelaide Brooks (University of Cambridge)
  • ‘Post-German Perspectives Unveiled: Rethinking Literary and Linguistic Boundaries’, Chiara Liso (Free University Berlin)

  • ‘Reinforcing and Transforming English: The Presence of Mass Media in Migration Writings from the Global South’, Hongyu Chen (Tsinghua University)

15:30–18:00 | Closing Remarks

18:00 | Drinks Reception