Offers of papers are invited for a two-day conference on the historical semantics of the period 1760-1830, to be held at the University of Glamorgan on July 8 and 9, 2004.
In an age of revolution the meanings of many important words (including 'revolution') were transformed, often in ways that were elusive. Words acquired new meanings while retaining or losing older meanings. The period was remarkable for semantic innovation, complexity, play, contention, obfuscation and confusion. William Empson's 'Structure of Complex Words' (1951) and Raymond Williams's 'Keywords: a vocabulary of culture and society' both drew heavily on this period. More recently, literary scholars have traced the fortunes of famously slippery words such as 'imagination' and 'enthusiasm' in the volatile political circumstances of the British 1790s. Historians have focussed on alterations in the language of social classification: the term 'class' itself, and 'Britain', together with 'family', 'friend' and 'servant'. Meanwhile, everyone working on the period continues to depend on the collective labour of the Oxford English Dictionary.
The conference will explore the ways in which these words functioned within texts and within society, Papers are invited - from literary scholars, historians, philosophers and others - on any aspect of the conference theme. Papers will last twenty minutes. Proposals (250 words) should be sent or emailed to:
School of Humanities and Social Sciences
University of Glamorgan
Pontypridd CF37 1DL
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