Conference: “Where Are We Now? The Location of Modern Languages and Cultures”

University of Durham, 19–­21 April 2023

The School of Modern Languages and Cultures at Durham University is organizing its 2023 Conference: Where Are We Now? The Location of Modern Languages and Cultures’. The event plans to bring together leading academics, practitioners, and thinkers to discuss the direction of modern languages between 19-21 April 2023. The organizing committee also invites applications for the ‘Early Career Keynote Lecture Competition’ (more information below).

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 the 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

An early career keynote speaking competition has been announced by the “Where Are We Now?” organizing committee. They welcome early career academics (a doctoral student or a scholar up to 5 years post-PhD) working in a subject connected to modern languages  (including e.g. Visual Cultures, Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature engaging with non-anglophone languages) to submit ideas for papers that will be presented at the conference. The lecture will be given by a young researcher whose early contributions to the field have already had a considerable influence and whose work raises novel issues and illuminates fresh perspectives on the direction of modern languages. The successful candidate will get a reward that includes the chance to give a keynote address at the international conference in 2023 and book vouchers. The School will pay for the travel, lodging, and food expenses.

Entry requirements:  

Deadline: 30 November 2022 (23:59 GMT) 

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