This strand investigates interaction between languages in the performing arts and the types of creativity this generates. Multilingual performance fosters creativity that is responsive to cultural contexts and audiences. Three case studies will feature different linguistic and cultural constellations: multilingual popular music created and performed in the UK by Black British and British Asian musicians; the ‘highbrow’ Lied performed in the original (often German) to English-speaking audiences; and edgily political Russian theatre ‘translated’ linguistically and culturally to UK stages.

These are some of the research questions we are interested in: How significant is linguistic diversity (including register) for the creative aims of the performers, and what creative processes are involved in negotiating the interaction between different languages in the performance? How significant is linguistic diversity for the audience’s response, and to what extent does their response benefit from involvement of creativity? How do languages and creativity come into play in foregrounding, negotiating, and/or downplaying cultural difference? To what extent is meaning clarified by written or aural and visual media? The questions will be addressed with methodologies drawn from music, theatre, film, media, cultural and performance studies.

Blog posts about strand 4's research and activities

Performing Languages: on multilingualism and language hierarchies

Yoruba Sonnets: creative multilingualism in action

Yoruba Sonnets: audience feedback

What are the Yoruba Sonnets? Interview with Lekan Babalola

Patois and grime: language and identity

Languages in the Creative Economy: On Equality, Inequality and Unequality…

Chicken Merry Hawk Deh Near!

Guide to directing foreign-language plays

Collaboration and ownership in cross-cultural creativity

Translating a Russian play into Hip Hop Theatre: a conversation

My Mother is Crying: a multilingual poem

‘Lessons learnt’ by a professional translator – adapting the same play three times over three years

Slanguages: how artists are getting creative with languages

Oxford Lieder Festival: languages as performance

Why Yorkshire, Cockney & New York accents aren’t out of place in Iannucci’s ‘The Death of Stalin’

Creative Multilingualism in opera and song: Roderick Williams visits Oxford

Crossing linguistic borders: Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande

Ackley Bridge: English, Hindi-Urdu and Bollywood languages on the telly

Creative translation: bending the rules to keep it personal

Why translation matters

On being a citizen of the world


Birksted-Breen, N. “Vasilii Sigarev and the Presniakov Brothers: Staging the New Russia.” Contemporary European Playwrights. Ed. M M Delgado, B Lease, D Rebellato. Forthcoming May 2020.

Bullock, P; Fairclough, P. “1917 and Beyond: Continuity, Rupture and Memory in Russian Music.” Slavonic & East European Review. 2019.

Bullock, P. “Song in a Strange Land: The Russian Musical Lyric beyond the Nation.” Global Russian Cultures. Ed. K M F Platt. 2019.

Bullock, P. “Chaikovsky and the Economics of Art Music in Late Nineteenth-Century Russia.” The Journal of Musicology. 2019.

Bullock, P. “The Birth of the Soviet Romance from the Spirit of Russian Modernism.” Slavonic & East European Review. 2019.

Bullock, P. “From Text to Act: Tchaikovsky’s Songs as Embodied Emotion.” Russian Performances: Word, Object, Action. Ed. J A Buckler,  J A Cassiday, and B Wolfson. 2018.

Bullock, P. “‘That’s Not the Only Reason We Love Him’: Chaikovsky Reception in Post-Soviet Russia.” Slavic Review. 2018.

Bullock, P. “Lyric and Landscape in the Songs of Rimsky-Korsakov.” Nineteenth Century Music. 2017.

Frainier, M. Prokofiev's 'War and Peace' (review).