Creative Multilingualism investigated the rich connections between linguistic diversity and creativity (2016–2020).
The groundwork included taking stock of the research that has been done in this area in different disciplines, scrutinising their methodologies and approaches, identifying to what extent the relevant disciplines are talking to each other, and finding new ways of connecting up those conversations.
The research was conducted in seven interlocking strands that drew on an exceptionally wide range of disciplines, including experimental, historical, comparative and cognitive linguistics, neurolinguistics, philology, rhetoric, literary criticism, comparative literature, translation studies, performance studies, social anthropology, ethnobiology, education and business studies. The researchers came from a wide range of backgrounds and collectively have expertise in over 40 languages.
The strands complemented each other and were organised along the process of articulation, extending from cognition (1) through naming (2) and (un)intelligible articulation (3), to music and theatre (4), literature (5), and textual and potentially performative manifestation in translation (6), with all these processes being directly or indirectly relevant to language learning (7). The researchers worked closely with a diverse range of partners from different spheres whose expertise fed into the research and enhancing its impact.
The strands collaborated closely at programme level, joining up for workshops and seminars, and drawing in colleagues from further disciplines, departments and institutions. Over the four years of the programme, activities and events demonstrated multilingualism in action – in European and non-European languages, across cultural contexts from ancient worlds to modern business, in material objects and live music, in local and global classrooms. Conferences in different locations focussed on four overarching annual themes:
- 2016-17: Languages & Creativity, Oxford
- 2017-18: Creative Multilingual Identities, Reading
- 2018-19: Performing Languages, Birmingham
- 2019-20: Creativity with Languages in schools, London
The programme sought to revitalise the mutual interdependence between Modern Languages and the arts and humanities, while revealing the innovative connectivity of languages across disciplines and sectors. Our research demonstrated that the creative dimension of languages gives them unlimited interdisciplinary scope – not just as a mechanical channel of communication, but as a medium that contributes vitally to intellectual and emotional understanding.
Click on the links below to find out more about each strand.