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Durham University


Where Are We Now? The Location of Modern Languages and Cultures

** Please note that this conference has had to be cancelled but we hope to rearrange it in the future **

Calman Learning Centre, Durham, 20-22 April 2020

Plenary speakers: Sarah Kay, Alison Phipps, Ming Tiampo

Plenary roundtable participants: Janice Carruthers, Catherine Davies, Charles Forsdick, Claire Gorrara, Neil Kenny

Questions concerning the uptake of the study of languages and the identity of Modern Languages as a disciplinary field within the academy are of urgent national concern. Where Are We Now? aims to build on the success of Our Uncommon Ground (organized by Durham’s School of Modern Languages & Cultures in 2018). The 2018 conference sought to sketch out both the common and uncommon ground between the many (sub-)disciplines that comprise Modern Languages and to offer a platform from which to establish a regular UK-based gathering of the Modern Languages community. It did so in order to promote the productive exchange of ideas across existing subject boundaries and collectively to address issues facing the discipline nationally and globally.

By focussing on the question of location, both disciplinary and geographic, Where Are We Now? aims to foster dialogue about the connections between new research in Modern Languages and a range of highly topical debates around space, access, mobility, and the global and the local. Those are debates which cannot properly be conducted 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 rhetoric surrounding migration); and a politically sensitive, critical perception of mobility and of the global/local relationship in the Anthropocene.