Transnational Modern Languages
Professor Charles Burdett, University of Bristol, Dr Jenny Burns, University of Warwick, Professor Derek Duncan, University of St. Andrews, Professor Loredana Polezzi, University of Cardiff
In an age most frequently defined as post-national, globalizing, and mobile, Modern Languages need to reflect on the nature of the discipline as a whole and to look beyond traditional notions of national cultures/ literatures. Modern Languages is generally seen as an area of study for ‘specialists’ working in discrete fields, often associated with nations and nation states. It needs, instead, to be articulated as an expert mode of inquiry whose founding research question is that of how languages and cultures operate and interact across diverse axes of connection that may flex according to historical, geographic, economic, political, and cultural conditions. That question needs to take its rightful place as a foundational one not only for MLs, but also for enquiry across the humanities and social sciences into intersubjective and social experience, interactions and organisation in a global frame.
The aim of the series is to provide a model that allows Modern Languages to be construed and practised not as the inquiry into separate national traditions, but as the study of languages, cultures and their interactions. In doing so, it will articulate a vision of Modern Languages which is attentive to linguistic and cultural specificity but which is not contained within national borders. It focuses on the centrality of language and culture as situated sets of practices whose performance is crucial to interactions in all areas of life, from individual experience to the building of local as well as virtual communities.
The series will build upon expertise, research and teaching that are constantly being developed in Modern Languages, but which are often insufficiently visible in the public sphere. By doing so, it will demonstrate the value – practical and commercial, as well as academic and cultural – of modern language study when conceived as transnational cultural enquiry.
The texts in the series, bringing together cutting-edge research, are specifically targeted at a student audience and designed to be used as key texts in Modern Languages disciplines and as a pedagogical resource in cognate disciplines. They will address how work on the transnational and the transcultural broadens the confines of Modern Languages; opens an extensive range of objects of research to analysis; deploys a complex set of methodologies; and can be accomplished through the exposition of clearly articulated examples.
The series will be anchored by the Handbook, Transnational Modern Languages: A Handbook, eds. Jenny Burns (Warwick) and Derek Duncan (St. Andrews), which sets out the theoretical and conceptual scope of the series, the type of research in which it is based, the kinds of questions that it asks, and the importance of the pedagogical function that it will serve. The Handbook will provide an effective and useable theoretical and thematically diverse introduction to the subsequent volumes in the series. It will function as an extended and indispensable glossary to the other volumes whose primary readership comprises undergraduate students in Modern Languages and related programmes of cultural studies.
Following on from the Handbook, the series will produce a text for all the major disciplines that constitute the study of Modern Languages. All of the texts will concentrate on a series of core practices that are at the basis of the formation and working of cultures and they will examine the operation of these practices – across significant historical junctures, events and geographical areas – in a transnational perspective. The texts will thus demonstrate the ongoing constructive interplay of European and other world languages and cultures, and will promote not only a synchronic but also a diachronic analysis of culture in which the evolution and interaction of cultures is studied over extensive periods of time. The series will begin with the following volumes:
Transnational French Studies, eds. Charles Forsdick (Liverpool) and Claire Launchbury (IMLR/IHR); Transnational German Studies, eds. Ben Schofield (KCL) and Rebecca Braun (Lancaster); Transnational Hispanic Studies, eds. Catherine Davies (IMLR), Rory O'Bryen (Cambridge) and Stuart Green (Leeds); Transnational Italian Studies, eds. Charles Burdett (Bristol), Loredana Polezzi (Cardiff), Marco Santello (Leeds); Transnational Portuguese Studies, ed. Hilary Owen (Manchester) and Claire Williams (Oxford).