Paper abstracts are invited that explore texts proposing or depicting concepts of the acquisition of the mother tongue and discuss whether it can be actually one, one’s own, or a mother’s language. Readings of literary texts are particularly welcome, but papers might as well pertain to the theory of autobiography and translation and to objects in other genres.
“The language in which we are speaking,” the protagonist of Joyce’s ‘Portrait’ says in English about English, “will always be for me an acquired speech. I have not made or accepted its words.” Everyone acquires language, yet Joyce raises the question: How? Does a subject, a prospective speaker lacking nothing but a vocabulary to say “I,” acquire speech by way of reaching for and accepting a language that is thus “gained” as a mother tongue? Or is it not rather that language only allows to articulate an “I,” and hence shapes it? Authors from Augustine to Kafka, Nabokov and Canetti discuss what it means to acquire a mother tongue, to form and reshape the language that enables to speak – not least of being estranged from speech. Deleuze suggests that by bringing about a “destruction of the maternal language,” literature renders into an expressive, communicative medium what is otherwise just a suppressive structure. Yet if that can be done in literature, language must itself comprise the possibility to be altered; a mother tongue might indeed not be a language until it is spoken, which means: altered, reshaped, thus becoming a (m)other tongue.
Please submit 250 word abstracts via the ACLA 2011 page:
http://www.acla.org/submit, or send them to firstname.lastname@example.org
Deadline: November 12, 2010
Institut für Allgemeine und Vergleichende Literaturwissenschaft
Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität
Grüneburgplatz 1, Fach 133
60629 Frankfurt am Main
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