Performing Multilingualism in World Literatures: Aesthetics and Activism

Multilingual graffiti
20 - 22 September 2018
University of Oxford (Exeter College)


Multilingual graffiti


Organisers: Prof Jane Hiddleston, Prof Wen-chin Ouyang, Dr Laura Lonsdale, Dr Nora Parr

Strand 5: Creativity and World Literature: Languages in Dialogue

‘Performing multilingualism' is construed as a challenge to linguistic hierarchies and as a testimony to the importance of linguistic diversity and malleability for freedom of expression and democracy. Papers at the conference investigate the potential of literary and cultural works as sites or forums of dramatic experimentation and creative multilingualism, where languages can work as active and dynamic forces that combine, collide, intersect, and conflict. 

The multilingual aesthetics emerging in these stagings of linguistic juxtaposition and interplay may at the same time serve to probe and develop theoretical conceptions of the relationship between multilingualism and monolingualism, and to expose the ways in which language users of all kinds are able to activate languages in such a way as challenge ideological assumptions around linguistic categories. The performance of multilingualism is further explored as a form of activism in contexts where the institutionalisation of monolingualism takes place at the expense of diverse and plural linguistic forms, dialects, and idiolects.

The conference in Oxford (2022 September 2018) will build on work from our January 2018 conference Multilingualisms in World Literature

Join the discussion on Twitter with #MultilingualLit.

Register here for free tickets to the conference (panellists do not need to register)


Full conference programme below or download a pdf:

Thursday 20 September, 2018

1010:30 Registration

Fitzhugh Auditorium at Cohen Quad, on Walton Street (marked with a 1 on the map)

10:3010:45 Welcome: Wen-chin Ouyang and Jane Hiddleston

10:4512:00 Panel 1: Activist Multilingualism

Chair: Jane Hiddleston (Oxford)

Multilingual political activism in the works of Caroline Bergvall Karin Nykvist (Lund)

The art of provocation Fransiska Louwagie (Leicester)

12:001:15 Panel 2: Multilingual Imperative

Chair: Wen-chin Ouyang (SOAS)

Translingual Authorship and Creativity in the context of the Refugee Crisis Andrea Ciribuco (National University of Ireland)

Multilingual maelstrom: Primo Levi’s “Canto of Ulysses” Dominique Jullien (UC Santa Barbara)

1:15–2:15 Lunch (only provided for Panellists and Chairs)

2:15–3:45 Panel 3: Between Existence and Erasure

Chair: Matthew Reynolds (Oxford)

Erasure as performance: Un/covering non-monolingual texts Brigitte Rath (Innsbruck)

Defending the Right to Exist:  Embodied Poetics in Sign Language Performance H-Dirksen Bauman (Gallaudet)

How foreign is too cryptic? The performance of linguistic hybridity in the translingual writing of Khaled Hosseini and Atiq Rahimi Lida Amiri (Liverpool)

3:454:00 Coffee

4:005:15 Panel 4: Multilingualism and Political Discourse

Chair: Siobhan Shilton (Bristol)

Metaphors of Multilingualism: Kamel Daoud, Jürgen Habermas and the Language(s) of Community Cohesion Sura Qadiri (Cambridge)

T-r-a-u-m-a vs trauma: disarticulating discourse through the multilingual, and a performance Nora Parr (SOAS)

Reservations will be made at a nearby pub for informal gathering


Friday 21 September, 2018

All events at Fitzhugh Auditorium at Cohen Quad, on Walton Street (marked with a 1 on the map, dinner and drink reception at the college, marked 6 on the map)

10:0011:15  Panel 5: Making noise

Chair: Keya Anjaria (SOAS)

Re/Negotiating the Nation: Multilingualism & Identity in Nigerian Hip Hop Tosin Gboi (Tulane)

Pickled gherkins, father throats and a nose, as a site of resistance in the Slavic and Turkic languages Dobrochna Futro (Glasgow)

11:1512:45 Panel 6: Sounding poetry

Chair: Birgit Kaiser (Utrecht)

Victor Gelu and the Multilingualism of Chanson in 19th-century Marseille James Thomas (Mezura Translations)

Tongues Tonguing Tarkos yasser elhariry (Dartmouth)

12:451:45 Lunch (only provided for Panellists and Chairs)

1:453:00 Panel 7: Staging Dialogues

Chair: Nora Parr (SOAS)

Multilingual practice in “Welsh and Khasi Cultural Dialogues”: strategies for the performance of minority languages Helen Davies, Lisa Lewis (University of South Wales)

Between Hebrew and Yiddish: Dramatizing 19th Century Eastern European Jewish Diglossia in the Fiction of Shalom Yaakov Abramovitch Agata Kroh (Uniwersytet Jagielloński)

3:003:15 Coffee

3:154:30 Panel 8: Dramatising Identity

Chair: Laura Lonsdale (Oxford)

Incoming: Performing Scots in Raman Mundair’s ‘Stories fae da Shoormal’ Rachel Gilmour (Queen Mary)

Translation as Performance: Between poetics and cultural activism Manuela Perteghella (TransArtAtion)

5:006:00 Performance with Rinkoo Barpaga + Q&A

7:00 Drinks reception at college

Exeter College Hall, Turl Street, marked 6 on the map

7:30 Conference Dinner for Panellists and Chairs

Exeter College Hall, Turl Street, marked 6 on the map


Saturday 22 September, 2018

Fitzhugh Auditorium

10:0011:30 Panel 9: Representing languages

Chair: Charles Forsdick (Liverpool)

(In)visible Images, (Un)speaking Sounds: the Multilingual and the Multimodal in Franco-Chinese Literature and Visual Arts Shuangyi Li (Lund)

Picturebooks in a Minority Language Setting: Intra-Cultural Transformations Hannah Felce (Cardiff)

Jean/Hans Arp's translations without objects' Delphine Grass (Lancaster)

11:3012:45 Panel 10: Multilingual Modernism and Experimentalism

Chair: Wen-chin Ouyang (SOAS)

Transition, the ‘Revolution of the Word’ and the politics of multilingual modernism Juliette Taylor-Batty (Leeds)

Living in Tongues. Hélène Cixous’s Multilingual Poetics Birgit Mara Kaiser (Utrecht)

12:45–1:45 Lunch (only provided for Panellists and Chairs)

1:453:15 Panel 11: Re-casting symbols

Chair: Nora Parr (SOAS)

Performing dictation – Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s DICTEE as creative matrix Elisabeth Friis (Lund)

Clowning Around: The Profound and the Silly in the Turkish/English novel The Clown and His Daughter/Sinekli Bakkal Keya Anjaria (SOAS)

Multilingualism and Metamorphosis in Apulée: revue de littérature et de réflexion Rebekah Vince (Warwick)

3:153:45 Final Roundtable (with coffee)

4:00–5:30 PEN event at Oxford Waterstones (tickets required):

Language(s) and performance

Waterstones Oxford, William Baker House, Broad Street, Oxford, OX1 3AF

Book your ticket for the PEN event on Eventbrite (panellists and chairs do not need to book).


Download a pdf of the conference programme.

Register here for free tickets to the conference (panellists do not need to register).