Call for Papers

PLEASE NOTE: the CFP is now closed. Read about the programme.

Approaching the historical: a symposium of Early Modern and Medieval stylistics (SEMMS)

14 June 2017, University of Nottingham

Historical literature—here framed as material composed before the twentieth century—represents a budding area of focus within current stylistics research. Building on long traditions established in literary criticism and historical pragmatics, this increasing engagement with historical style is observable in recent publications, collaborative research projects, and special events (such as the ‘In honour of Sylvia Adamson’ symposium at the University of Sheffield this past September). These efforts have produced dynamic and interdisciplinary research clusters oriented around prominent historical literary periods including Victorian and even Shakespearean literature.

This symposium seeks to embrace this interest by providing a platform from which to explore the application (and adaptation) of stylistic tools and approaches to Old, Middle, and Early Modern English texts. Our focus on early English literatures underscores our wish to facilitate the more widespread analysis of medieval texts, as well as to further engage with the rapidly growing corpus of scholarship evidenced in the language of Shakespeare and his contemporaries. To this end, the symposium ultimately aims to promote the consideration of earlier historical material than generally addressed in conventional stylistic inquiry.

This event also offers an opportunity for critical evaluation of these practices, promoting discussion of how to best integrate modern stylistic approaches with the textual requirements of (and features unique to) early literary genres. This has potential not only to significantly enhance our understanding of the literature being analysed (and the cultures that produced that literature), but also to help us refine our methods and ultimately broaden the scope of their utility. The symposium encourages more widespread consideration of these historical texts by exploring questions such as:

  • How does the temporal distance between discourse world and present-day audiences affect stylistic appreciation of these early texts?
  • How might these interpretative challenges be addressed with present tools and methods?
  • What changes can be made to our current stylistic methods to complement the unique character of these historical materials?
  • How does the stylistic analysis of early texts enhance our understanding of those texts, the cultures that produced them, and the diachronic development of human cognition?

We invite abstracts for 15-minute presentations discussing any aspect of literary linguistics as applied to texts composed in Old, Middle, or Early Modern English. Submissions are welcome featuring methods and topics including, but not limited to:

  • Synchronic or diachronic approaches
  • Quantitative or qualitative analysis
  • Historical discourse analysis
  • Intertextuality
  • Narratology
  • Cognitive poetics
  • Corpus linguistics/stylistics
  • Non-digital topics and approaches (i.e. manuscripts)
  • Stylistics and translation
  • Characterisation
  • Speech and thought presentation
  • Metaphor
  • Metre
  • Any other topic with stylistic impact and significance to the field

Abstracts of 250 words should be sent to Jacqueline Cordell by 17 March 2017 and include name, academic affiliation, and a list of 4 keywords.

View the PDF version of this call for papers.