Contributions are solicited for inclusion in the volume “(M)Other Tongues”. Papers may explore literary texts in any language discussing concepts of the mother tongue, its acquisition, its differentiation from other tongues, and 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 St. 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 300-500 word abstracts to prade[at]lingua.uni-frankfurt.de
Deadline: December 12, 2011
Dr. des. Juliane Prade
Department of Comparative Literature
60323 Frankfurt am Main
Germany Email: email@example.com
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