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Seminar - “Special Languages”: Linguistic Others and Social Order


(GSA - October 3-6, 2019, Portland, Oregon)


Seminar Description:

In “the politics of us and them,” as philosopher Jason Stanley describes the making of social fractures (How Fascism Works, 2018), language and languages play key roles. From jargon use to linguistic profiling, from transparent language advocacy to accentism, inventing, imagining, classifying, and theorizing “Other” languages can serve exclusion or inclusion. This seminar considers what the study of Sondersprachen (special languages) in Germanophone cultures adds to understanding the linguistic aspects of society-fashioning across cultures and disciplines.


Defined in opposition to a dominant language, the category Sondersprachen has historically included any deviance from a given linguistic norm: dialects, sociolects, creoles (Kanak Sprak), group-specific languages (Fachsprachen or even Nazi-Deutsch), gendered languages (Frauensprachen), constructed languages (lingua ignota or Volapük), and even animal languages. The seminar mines the category to examine how linguistic norms and exceptions can be mobilized to shape society and thought, from governance to academic practice, from publishing to civic life.


Format: Participants will be asked to circulate a 2,500-3,500-word paper creatively applying the topic of the seminar to their research or discipline by August 31, 2019. Participants will also be asked to read several short pre-circulated texts, and to offer a brief commentary on another participant’s paper.


Conveners: Adam Knowles ([log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>), Yuliya Komska ([log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>), Sophie Salvo ([log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>)


How to Apply: If you wish to participate, please visit the GSA website and apply electronically at: https://www.xcdsystem.com/gsa/member/index.cfm
To submit your application, you will need to submit an abstract (300 words) of what you hope to contribute to the seminar and a short CV. Applications are due by January 26, 2019.

Please contact the conveners with any questions.


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Sophie Salvo
Assistant Professor
Department of Germanic Studies
University of Chicago


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The German Studies Call for Papers List
Editor: Sean Franzel
Assistant Editor: Olaf Schmidt
Sponsored by the University of Missouri
Info available at: https://grs.missouri.edu/german/resources