Prof. Tim Machan (ND English Department) is the organizer of a three-day conference that will bring together a group of distinguished scholars who are collaborating on a book entitled “Imagining Medieval English” (Cambridge University Press, 2015). The participants will present papers that form the chapters of the book, and join in a general discussion on practical and theoretical topics in the history of medieval English. What are the social, linguistic, and historical reasons for positing a medieval stage of the English language? What are the cultural implications of such a stage? And what are the reasons for and consequences of linking this stage to Modern English as versions of the same language? All paper sessions and discussions are open to the public.
Paper topics will include: contact among English, Norse, French, Latin, and Welsh; the linguistic reasons for positing coherence in the linguistic record of 500-1500 and for drawing distinctions between an Old and Middle English period; the kinds of coherence and difference that can be posited among medieval English regional dialects; the discursive specialization of English in literature; the role of historical grammars and dictionaries in the construction of medieval English; the characteristics of manuscripts as sources of all medieval linguistic evidence; the nature of historical linguistic evidence; the relations between literary language and linguistic history; the role of medieval English in linguistic history; the historical factors influencing modern notions of periodization; the relations among English and European linguistic practices; and the evidence for colloquial medieval English in the extant manuscripts.
Invited participants: Cynthia Allen, Christopher Cain, Helen Cooper, Andrew Galloway, Simon Horobin, Seth Lerer, Tim Machan, David Matthews, Colette Moore, Ad Putter, Jeremy Smith, Merja Stenroos.