Conference: “Where Are We Now? The Location of Modern Languages and Cultures”, University of Durham, 19 – 21 April 2023

The 2023 conference ‘Where Are We Now? The Location of Modern Languages and Cultures’, hosted by the School of Modern Languages and Cultures at Durham University, will bring together key thinkers, scholars and practitioners to debate the future of Modern Languages. As an interdisciplinary field of enquiry, Modern Languages bring a wide spectrum of insights to bear on the most urgent global challenges, further thrown into relief by recent events including Me Too, BLM, Covid and the ubiquitous effects of climate change: debates around space, access, mobility, justice, the global and the local lie at the heart of new research in the field. 

Questions concerning the uptake of the study of languages and the identity of Modern Languages as a discipline within the academy are of urgent national concern. Modern Languages as an interdisciplinary field of enquiry bring a wide spectrum of insights to bear on the most urgent global challenges: debates around space, access, mobility, justice, the global and the local lie at the heart of new research in Modern Languages. Especially recent events – Me Too, BLM, Covid, the war in Ukraine, increasingly more tangible and ubiquitously felt effects of climate change – throw into sharp relief how closely the global and the local are intertwined. Those different aspects cannot productively be explored without thinking about language/s. 

The ‘where’ of research in Modern Languages is primarily – but not exclusively – a question of the location of the ‘target’ or subject cultures and their languages. It also encompasses the question of the researcher’s subject position; institutional factors determining perceptions of cultural difference and visibility of Modern Languages research; social factors determining access to language learning and exposure to the positives of intercultural exchange (as opposed to those negatively configured in rhetoric surrounding migration); and a politically sensitive, critical perception of changing mobility, topographies, and of the global/local relationship in the Anthropocene. 

Confirmed plenary speakers include Siraj Ahmed, Alison Phipps, Ming Tiampo and, as roundtable participants, Charles Burdett, Janice Carruthers, Emma Cayley, Charles Forsdick, Neil Kenny and Nicola McLelland.

Leslie Brooks Lecture: Mieke Bal  

Ann Moss Lecture: Early Career Keynote Lecture Competition

The organising committee of ‘Where are We Now?’ are delighted to announce an early career keynote lecture competition. We invite early career scholars (a doctoral student or a scholar up to 5 years post-PhD) from a field related to Modern Languages (including e.g. Visual Cultures, Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature engaging with non-anglophone languages) to submit proposals for a paper focused on the conference topic (see abstract below). The lecture will be assigned to an early career researcher whose early achievements have already made a significant impact on the field, and whose research raises innovative questions and opens new pathways of thinking about the future of Modern Languages. The winning applicant will be awarded a prize consisting of the opportunity to deliver a keynote lecture at the 2023 international conference and book vouchers. The School will cover the travel costs, accommodation, and subsistence.   

Entry requirements:  

Deadline: 30 November 2022 (23:59 GMT) 

Committee:  Dominique Carlini-Versini, Laura Leon Llerena and Katrin Wehling-Giorgi 

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