Department of English

Guest Lecture

Language, Sexuality, History: Imagining a Queer Historical Linguistics

Tuesday, 2018/10/30, 16:30

Frequently, discussions of language, sexuality and history orient around linear sequences and chronologies, specifying how earlier became later, past became present, or then became now. Yet there are “far more possibilities for living than time as measurement would lead us to believe” (Dinshaw 2012: 1370). And to engage those “possibilities of living”, studies of language, sexuality and history must look beyond “linear narratives in which [historical] meaning succeeds in revealing itself—as itself—through time” (Edelman 2004: 4). Recent work in queer theory suggests that formations like anachronism, silence, refusal, spectral haunting, disidentification, and messiness offer entry points for such inquiry. In each case, these formations disrupt the neatness of the genealogical record. These formations are often expressed through linguistic practices, and that makes these formations of interest to projects interested in building nonconforming linguistic histories. Queer historical linguistics is one such project. Its subject matter – the intersections of language, sexuality & history – is not easily contained within conventional categories, boundaries, or chronologies (cf. Deleuze and Guattari 1987: 275-279). But as this presentation shows, its subject matter can be explored productively – and queerly – by using entry points for inquiry like those listed above “to think against the dominant arrangements of time and history…” and “to pose other possibilities for …living historically (Freeman 2010: vi, xxii).

Event organizer: Prof. Dr. Crispin Thurlow
Speaker: William Leap (American University, Washington, USA)
Date: 2018/10/30
Time: 16:30 - 18:00
Locality: F023
Unitobler
Lerchenweg 36
3012 Bern
Characteristics: open to the public
free of charge