Historical Sociolinguistics Network Conference

On 6 and 7 February 2014, the University of Sheffield hosted the Historical Sociolinguistics Network (HiSoN) conference focused on the theme of “Historical Discourses on Language and Power.” The event involved collaboration across the Faculty, including members of staff in the Schools of Languages and Cultures, English and History.

This conference aimed to zone in on the interface between history and linguistics, with a sharp focus on historical discourses on language and power. Power plays a central role in shaping social interactions and various forms of group membership. It enables the construction of insiders and outsiders in relation to ethnicity, social class, gender, religion and so on. From a historical perspective, in what ways has language been central to constructing, challenging and reconfiguring boundaries? Additionally, in what ways do contemporary discourses on language and power draw on historical events to justify or contest social practices? Contributions are predominantly in the fields of sociolinguistics, historical linguistics, social history and cultural anthropology.

Colleagues are invited to drop in to listen to some individual papers. We only request registration if colleagues wish to attend the entire conference, including lunch and coffee breaks. The full conference programme with information on times and venues can be found on the conference website.

The conference was organised by Professor Susan Fitzmaurice (School of English), Dr Kristine Horner (School of Languages and Cultures, Germanic Studies), Dr Catharina Peersman (School of Languages and Cultures, French Studies) and Dr Mark Faulkner (School of English), and a team of postgraduate volunteers from the School of Languages and Cultures, English and History provided valuable assistance.

Faculty Pro-Vice-Chancellor Professor Jackie Labbe formally opened the conference on 6 February, and among the lectures presented were the following:

Dr Anita Auer (Universiteit Utrecht): Strangers and aliens in Early Modern England

Professor Nils Langer (University of Bristol): Language conflicts in the German-Danish borderlands

Professor Sharon MacDonald (University of York): Heritage, nostalgia and authenticity: commonalities and diversities in past-presencing in Europe

Professor Philip Withington (University of Sheffield): ‘Aristocracy’ and ‘Democracy’ in Early Modern England?

The Historical Sociolinguistics Network (HiSoN) was founded at the University of Bristol in 2005 and is open to anyone with an interest in the field. HiSoN is an organisation without a formal membership structure but members meet regularly at dedicated conferences, workshops, and summer schools. A selection of HiSoN publications will be on display in the Jessop West Foyer during the week of the conference.

For more information please see the HiSoN 2014 Conference: Historical Discourses on Language and Power webpage, the Historical Sociolinguistics Network webpage, and the Historical Sociolinguistics: Studies on Language and Society in the Past webpage.