CANCELLED! English Agonistes: Narrative Design and Language History
This event has been cancelled to prevent spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). Guest lecture by Tim Machan from Notre Dame University, USA.
"The Tower of Babel" by Pieter Bruegel (1563)
The Tower of Babel has retained a powerful influence over how the history of English has been imagined and retold.
Return of a perfect and unchanging communication
Attributing language variation to human pride and divine intervention, the story also holds out the promise of a return to perfect and unchanging communication.
This dynamic between language change and social structure appears in early modern accounts of encounters with speakers of "broken English", in responses to non-English speaking immigrant communities, and also in modern drives for linguistic uniformity.
In every instance, framing the history of the language serves as a way to engineer some desirable social end.
The lecture is open for everybody, but may have a special interest for linguists (including language historians), and scholars of literature and civilization.