Tag: English

Visit to the British Library

Last week many of our first year BA English students and tutors had a great study visit at the wonderful British Library.

group pic

Firstly we wandered through the ‘Treasures of The British Library’ exhibition and our students had to find answers to the following questions:

  1. Which author from Humpshire has some teenage writings on display in the library?
  2. Who received a letter from Charles Darwin that’s on display in the library?
  3. Why might that letter have been difficult to receive and read?
  4. Which work on display in the library contains the line ‘I’m not half the man I used to be’?

As our amazing students were equally good; the group that submitted the best photo of themselves in the library were declared winners.

So, this is the winning entry:

British Library photo 011117_1

And these are the runners up:

British Library photo 011117_2   British Library photo 011117_3

 

We ended our visit in a magical way, at the enchantedly busy Harry Potter: A History of Magic’ exhibition.BL-Harry-Potter-624x351-roundel

Rhyme and Reason: “creative criticism” and thinking in verse: video recording

If you’ve missed the a talk and poetry reading by poet, philosopher and literary critic Christopher Norris, that took place on October 18th, fear not!

Chris discussed his shift from a philosopher and literary critic to a poet. He introduced and read a number of his philosophical villanelles and also (my favourite) a satirical one about George Osborne.

We have videorecorded this very well-attended and fascinating session.

Here is a teaser:

 

 

And here’s the full session:

 

(next time I’ll try not to sit right in front of the camera)

Languaging: Just another description of semiosis?

The Language and Communication Research cluster is delighted to welcome Professor Stephen Cowley (University of Southern Denmark) for a presentation on language and semiosis.

When? Wednesday 15 November 2017, 16.00 – 17.30

Where? W147 (Williams building), Middlesex University, London, NW4 4BT

Contemporary humans carry the mark of Cain or, alternatively, bear responsibility for (most) earthly life.  Should we shoulder this burden?  In striving to understand the question, Stephen Cowley turns to what the folk call ‘language’ and, in so doing, contrast views that begin with semiosis and languaging respectively.

Leaving metaphysics aside, language is seen as both human and semiotic (see, Cowley, 2011; 2017; Love, 2017). Pursuing parallels/contrasts between semiotic and radical ecolinguistic views, Cowley turns to language-activity. Using canonical examples, he shows how the fields differentiate between humans and other social mammals. Specifically, while humans can be seen as a symbolic species (e.g. Deacon, 1997), they can also be seen as ecologically constituted (e.g. Ross, 2007). On the latter view, far from being symbolic, languaging enacts embodied cultural activity.  On this deflationary view, the symbolic is, above all, a mode of description.

Humanness draws on nothing fancy but is, rather, rooted in coming to hear utterance-acts as repeatables (den Herik, 2017). Later, using mimesis (Donald, 1991), collectives make up new kinds of understanding and responsibility. Just as people come to take a stance to languaging, they learn to see pictures or marks as signs.  It is concluded that earthly responsibilities are, as Ross suggests, ecologically constituted.

 

Stephen Cowley

s200_stephen_j..cowley

Stephen Cowley is Professor of Organisational Cognition at the University of Southern Denmark (Slagelse Campus). Having completed a PhD entitled “The Place of Prosody in Conversations”, he moved from the UK to post-liberation South Africa and shifted his academic focus to Cognitive Science. In empirical work, he has examined prosodic, kinematic and verbal interactions within families, between mothers and infants, with robots, in medical simulations and in the practice of peer-review. Tracing intelligent activity to agent-environment interactions gives new insight on language, problem finding, decision making and how temporal ranging serves people, groups and organisations. He coordinates the Distributed Language Group, a community that aim to refocus the language sciences on the directed, dialogical activity that grants human life a collective dimension. His papers span many areas and, recently, he has edited or co-edited volumes entitled: Distributed Language (2011, Benjamins) Cognition Beyond the Brain: Computation, Interactivity and Human Artifice (2017, Springer, 2nd Edn) and Biosemiotic Perspectives on Language and Linguistics (2015, Springer).

References

Cowley , S.J. (2011) Distributed Language. Benjamins: Amsterdam.

Cowley, S.J: (2017). Changing the idea of language: Nigel Love’s perspective. Language Sciences, 61: 43-55.

Deacon, T. (1997). The Symbolic Species; Harmondsworth: Penguin.

Donald, M. (1991). Origins of the modern mind: Three stages in the evolution of culture and cognition. Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press.

Herik, J. C. van den (2017). Linguistic know-how and the orders of language. Language Sciences, 61, 17-27.

Love, N. (2017). On languaging and languages. Language Sciences, 61: 113-147.

Ross, D. (2007). H. sapiens as ecologically special: what does language contribute? Language Sciences, 29: 710-731.

The Language and Communication Research Seminars are free and open to all staff, students and guests. For any questions or if you would like to lead a session, contact Anna Charalambidou.

 

Dialect and Heritage – project to update the historic ‘Survey of English Dialects’ (SED)

We talked in class about the ‘Survey of English Dialects’ (SED). There are some exciting news about a new dialect project to update this most comprehensive survey of dialects in England and open its records to the public. The project has just received a £798,000 National Lottery to continue the work of the Survey of English Dialects, under the direction of Dr Fiona Douglas, University of Leeds.

This story has been picked up by a number of newspapers in the past few days (thank you to Dr Maggie Scott for pointing it out) including:

Happy reading!

 

Norse-derived terms in English: The Bread and Butter of Etymological Work

The Language and Communication Research cluster is delighted to welcome the distinguished linguist and literary scholar Dr Sara M. Pons-Sanz, (Cardiff University) for a presentation on Norse-derived terms in English.

When? Wednesday 28 February 2018, 16.00 – 17.30

Where? BG09A (Building 9), Middlesex University, London, NW4 4BT

The presence and significance of Norse-derived terms in English has long been acknowledged and studied. The genetic proximity of Old English and Old Norse is likely to have facilitated mutual intelligibility between speakers of the two languages and the transfer of lexical and, to less extent, morphosyntactic material from one language to the other. However, the closeness between the two languages makes the identification of Norse loans in English rather problematic, particularly in those cases where there is no clear phonological or morphological evidence in favour of their Scandinavian past.

20110617-no-knead-bread-primary-thumb-625xauto-167152This paper will explore some of the challenges facing historical linguists interested in the lexical effects of the Anglo-Scandinavian linguistic contact in English. It will focus to start with on OE brēad, a term which is often presented as a Norse-derived semantic loan on the basis that it is said to have originally meant ‘piece, morsel of bread’ and to have acquired the meaning ‘bread, food prepared by moistening, kneading, and baking meal or flour, generally with the addition of yeast or leaven’ (OED 1989: s.v. bread, n., senses 1 and 2a) because of the influence of its Viking Age Norse cognate, represented by OIc brauð ‘bread’.

The discussion on the role of tradition and ideology in the study of the etymology of OE brēad will lead to the introduction of The Gersum Project, a three-year AHRC-funded project which takes its name from the loanword gersum (cp. OIc gørsemi ‘treasure’). This project aims at producing an objective and systematic typology to classify Norse-derived loans in English on the basis of the extant linguistic evidence.

 

Biography

Sara photo (3)Dr Sara Pons-Sanz is a Senior Lecturer at Cardiff’s School of English, Communication and Philosophy. Her research focuses on the make-up of medieval English vocabulary from different perspectives (etymology, sociolinguistics and stylistics). After completing two BAs (BA in English Philology and BA in Spanish Philology) and the equivalent of an MA in English Philology at the University of Valencia (Spain), she pursued an MPhil and a PhD at the University of Cambridge, in the Department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic. She was then granted a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship, which she took at the University of Nottingham (School of English). Having spent six years in Nottingham (2004-2010), she joined the Department of English, Linguistics and Cultural Studies at the University of Westminster, where she taught over five years (2010-2016) until she moved to Cardiff University.

The Language and Communication Research Seminars are free and open to all staff, students and guests. For any questions or if you would like to lead a session, contact Anna Charalambidou.

A Viewpoint is more than a Point of View: ‘Shades of Light’ and City Poetry

The Language and Communication Research cluster is delighted to welcome the acclaimed poet Mary Coghill for a poetry reading/presentation on A Viewpoint is more than a Point of View: ‘Shades of Light’ and City Poetry.

When? Wednesday 14 February 2018, 16.00 – 17.30

Where? Room BG09A (Building 9), Middlesex University, Hendon campus

For this poet, the definition of what might be called a ‘city poetic’ is ongoing.  The understanding of a viewpoint – from what angle the poet sees what is going on around him or her – is central.  The focused use of techniques and imagery which are sympathetic to the demands made by the city environment on those who live in the city day by day, night by night, is also crucial.  This presentation will examine, both through the examination of poetic theory and with examples from Shades of Light, how some of these issues are represented and interpreted, including through the use of Adobe Indesign software.

20130022111658img01Biography: Dr Mary Coghill
Creative Writing MA Plymouth University (2005) which included the narrative poem Designed to Fade (2006) Shearsman Books.

Creative Writing PhD from The London Metropolitan University (2011) with Professor Paul Cobley as Director of Studies: ‘A Theory and Praxis of a City Poetic: Jakobson, Poetic Function and City Space; Women, Deixis and the Narrator: A City Poem: ‘Shades of Light: A Triumph of City’; poem published (2012) www.cityofpoetry.co.uk

Visiting Research Fellowship at the Institute of English Studies, School of Advanced Studies, University of London (2014-17) included Assay of Blood and Gold: London (2017) www.cityofpoetry.co.uk and theoretical work on Jakobson and Metonymy.

The Language and Communication Research Seminars are free and open to all staff, students and guests. For any questions or if you would like to lead a session, contact Anna Charalambidou.

Rhyme and Reason: “creative criticism” and thinking in verse

The Language and Communication Research cluster is pleased to welcome you to the first event of our 2017-18 series: a talk and poetry reading by poet, philosopher and literary critic Christopher Norris.

When? Wednesday 18 October 2017, 16.00 – 17.30

Where? Room C223, College building, Middlesex University, Hendon campus

This talk will take the form of a poetry-reading with introductory remarks and a running commentary. The latter will invite reflection on the varied possibilities of thinking creatively in and through verse, especially formal (i.e., rhyming and metrical) verse. It will focus on the kinds of intellectual stimulus offered by such formal constraints, and the way that exigencies of structure can liberate the mind from routine or predictable patterns of thought.

The philosophical verse-essay has suffered an eclipse since its high-point in the English eighteenth-century, along with the very idea of poetry as a discursive or rationally-oriented discourse-genre. That idea has been displaced by the Romantic and Modernist emphasis on metaphor and symbol as supra-rational (hence ‘properly’ poetic) modes of imaginative thought. Christopher’s poetry takes a sharply opposed view of the prospects for at least one perfectly viable and, he would argue, not in the least anachronistic kind of verse-practice.

Brief bio:

chris-norrisChristopher Norris is Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at Cardiff University. He is the author of more than thirty books on topics in philosophy, literary theory, music, and intellectual history. These include, most recently, Badiou’s Being and Event: a reader’s guide (Continuum) and Philosophy Outside-In (Edinburgh U.P.). More recently he has been writing philosophical poetry with a main focus on the extended verse-essay as a mode of creative criticism.

Three collections have appeared so far: The Cardinal’s Dog (2014), For the Tempus-Fugitives (2017), and The Winnowing Fan (also 2017). Of the latter Terry Eagleton wrote: ‘A major literary event . . . . Christopher Norris has reinvented the poetry of ideas for our time in this enthralling collection of unique, elegant, hugely ambitious works. It’s certainly the most fascinating collection of poems I’ve read for many a year.’

The Language and Communication Research Seminars are free and open to all staff, students and guests. For any questions or if you would like to lead a session, contact Anna Charalambidou.