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Dialogue Signposts

Research Seminar - Barry McCrea (Yale): Minor Languages and the Modernist Literary Imagination

(24 April 2012)

This research seminar will take place at 5pm on Thursday 10th May in Elvet Riverside A56. 

In the first decades of the twentieth century the minor languages and dialects, which had characterized the speech of the European countryside for centuries, began to fall suddenly out of use, replaced by big metropolitan standards such as English, standard Italian and French. This talk explores how these vanishing rural idioms became a focus of utopian projections about the nature and lost possibilities of language itself; it shows how apparently conservative energies devoted to the Irish Gaelic revival or local linguistic revivalism, far from being provincial concerns, were of a piece with the high modernist thought usually associated with the metropolis. 

Barry McCrea is professor of comparative literature at Yale University. He is the author of a novel, The First Verse (2005) and In the Company of Strangers: Family and Narrative in Dickens, Conan Doyle, Joyce, and Proust (2011). He is currently finishing a book entitled Minor Languages and the Modernist Literary Imagination.