Victorian Literary Languages Network: Workshop 12-13 January 2023

The “Victorian Literary Languages” network studies the multilingualism of Victorian literature, examining the connections between the literary and linguistic histories of Victorian Britain and Ireland. How might critical perspectives on Victorian literature and its canons change when we take full account of the Victorian four nations, their numerous languages, and their richly diverse dialect cultures? How did nineteenth-century contests over national identity – and related debates about linguistic purity, diversity, and change – influence literary style and drive formal innovation? And how can methods of close and distant reading work collaboratively to generate new understandings of Victorian literary languages? To answer these questions, the network brings together scholars from a range of backgrounds and disciplines (including literature, linguistics, and history), who, by sharing their diverse expertise and perspectives, are developing an innovative, multilingual approach to the study of Victorian literature and culture.

The network’s third workshop, to be held at Bangor University on 12-13 January 2023, will consider how new practices of travel and communication between and beyond the four nations prompted interactions between different languages and dialects, and how literary texts registered the impact of this growth in connectivity. The heightened mobility of the Victorians, and of their texts, enabled the wider communication of local dialects and national languages, but at the same time it accelerated the diffusion of a standardised form of English throughout Britain and Ireland. We will examine these issues at different scales, asking how digital methods can be used to map the movements of languages at a national level, while also discussing representations of linguistic exchange and hybridity in specific literary texts.

If you would like to participate in the workshop, please email Gregory Tate and Karin Koehler (viclitlang@gmail.com) by Friday 18 November. Please include your name, institutional affiliation(s) (if applicable), and a description of your research and your intended contribution (250 words). Further information about the network can be found here: https://victorianliterarylanguages.wp.st-andrews.ac.uk.

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