April 28-29, 2017. The 2017 SAUTE conference, University of Neuchâtel « The challenge of change in English language and literature ».

The 2017 SAUTE conference will take place at the University of Neuchâtel on April 28-29, 2017. We invite abstracts for 20-minute presentations on literary and linguistic issues that relate to the conference topic « The challenge of change in English language and literature ».


SUBMIT TO: <sauteconference2017@gmail.com>

Abstracts should have no more than 500 words (excluding references) and should be sent to <sauteconference2017@gmail.com> as a PDF or MS Word document. Notifications of acceptance will be sent out by February 1 2017.




Change is a powerful idea which inspires hope and fear, excitement and dread. From the panta rhei of Heraclitus to Darwinian evolutionary theory, nobel laureate Bob Dylan’s The times they are a-changin’, the Obama campaign slogan Change we can believe in, and the current advertising mantra ‘change is good’, it recurs as a challenge to the status quo. We have chosen change as the topic for the 2017 SAUTE conference not only for these reasons, but also because it is equally of interest in many different ways to the study of literature and linguistics.

In literature, the field has itself gone through a period of rapid change, which looks set to continue, notably with the development of digital methods of research. If this in itself calls for reflection, the question of change has long been of interest, especially for those who take the currently dominant contextual approach to literature. The focus of enquiry is then how a literary form – or the very idea of literature – responds to the various pressures of the environment – not only socio-political or economic change, but also changes in the media of production. How does this response find expression? Is change promoted or on the contrary resisted? Such questions may be asked of an individual text or of a set of texts – those that belong to a genre for instance, or an authorial canon. And, of course, there are many ways that the idea of change may itself be more or less directly thematised — as good, bad, necessary or fatal.

In linguistics, change is the notion that connects fields of study such as historical linguistics, sociolinguistics, language acquisition, and language contact. Whereas reactions to language change in the public domain tend to be coloured by cultural pessimism (Will emojis destroy the English language?), linguistic research has led to insights into how language change works, and here the social underpinnings of change play a considerable role.


Felipe Fernandez-Armesto (USA, University of Notre Dame), a cultural historian who has written an acclaimed book on our topic, provides a historian’s perspective on cultural change, re-examining the idea of evolution, as applied to human history.

David Simpson (USA, UC Davis), a distinguished scholar in Romanticism and literary theory has done relevant work on situatedness and commemoration as well as on terror.

Terttu Nevalainen (Finland, University of Helsinki) has carried out foundational research in corpus-based historical sociolinguistics, with a special focus on Early Modern English.

Ewan Fernie (UK, Shakespeare Institute Birmingham), an avant-garde Shakespeare scholar is working on Shakespeare and political change.





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