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October 17, 2013

CFP (Journal): Polylinguism

Deadline: April 30, 2014

To the present day, Bachtin’s concept of heteroglossia constitutes a formative approach for com­prehending a fundamental polylinguism of literary language. With Bachtin, research engages in a gesture to contradict "unitary language" and "the forces that serve to unify and centralize the verbal-ideological world". Not least, heteroglossia proves to be a productive element of a literary theory critical of language that acquired a more positive attitude, following the notion of litera­ture as a “happy Babel” (Barthes), which increasingly emerges in the course of the post-war era.

Literature is polylingual, but how? The upcoming issue of Variations, a comparative literary jour­nal that is as such polylingual, is devoted to this question of literature’s linguistic dimensions of plurality, heterogeneity and polyvalence.

Polylinguism always opens the possibility of entering the field of literature in a twofold manner. On the one hand, one enters the diversely marked, historically and socially connoted spaces of different forms of language-consciousness and -practices: national and artificial languages, vernacular vs. standard languages, professional jargon or academic languages, country-specific characteristics like argot/verlan in France or surzhyk in Ukraine, mixed or hybrid languages like Yiddish, – they all leave their specific traces in literary texts. This may concern distinctly marked code-switchings and language shifts, or mixing languages (ranging from subtle to subversive forms) as cultural phenomena of hybridity, creolisation, bricolage, ambiguity and transformation as well as their thematisation and reflection. At the same time polylinguism designates the space of a radical autonomy of language in literary texts themselves. In this context, Bachtin mentions an “immanent overcoming of language in poetry”. In the aesthetic object, the multiplicity consolidates in a specific form of linguistic unity or uniqueness. Literary polylinguism thus always implies heightened attention towards an interaction of various linguistic and poetic functions. Figures of speech, metrical equivalences, genre-specific speech patterns, etc. can be considered as means to express the “internal dialogism of the word” and to perform heteroglossia poetically.

Variations 22 shall negotiate the two aspects of literary polylinguism, collecting contributions that reflect the tensions between the different directions and establish a dialogue between them.

The topic invites to be investigated by reference to concrete literacy texts and from diverse research perspectives (aesthetics, philosophy of language, cultural and literary history, linguistics etc.). Given that one can observe a certain asynchrony in the development of research in polylinguism with regard to different disciplines, it would be especially interesting consider the topic in the discourse of the respective field.

Abstracts (300–400 words) and a short bio-bibliography may be sent to the editors until 30 November 2013 at the following address: variations@rom.uzh.ch. We publish articles in German, English and French. Applicants will be notified about acceptance or rejection of their proposals in December 2012. The completed articles are to be sent to the editors no later than 30 April 2014 and must not exceed 32’000 characters. Furthermore, Variations also welcomes articles and literary and artistic contributions such as drawings, collages, and photographs that are not necessarily specific to the topic of the issue.

Posted by jmkirsch at October 17, 2013 02:41 PM