Norm and Anomaly in Literature, Culture, and Language

Country: Poland

City: Siedlce

Abstr. due: 30.06.2016

Dates: 19.09.16 — 20.09.16

Area Of Sciences: Humanities; Arts; Cultural science;

Organizing comittee e-mail:

Organizers: Franciszek Karpiński Institute for Regional Culture and Literary Research


Norm and anomaly have long constituted a binary opposition whose boundaries are becoming increasingly blurry and open to scrutiny. What precisely does the ‘norm’ mean? Which political, economic, and social forces play a decisive role in producing the ‘norm’? How is the ‘norm’ endorsed through the construction of the ‘anomaly’? And how does the ‘anomaly’ contest the ‘norm’? Can the ‘norm’ be anomalous when viewed as a discursive practice and a form of ideological control? And can the ‘anomaly’ be an integral part of the ‘norm’ without losing its subversive and oppositional character?

This conference invites you to explore norm and anomaly from a variety of disciplinary and methodological perspectives in literary and cultural studies, linguistics and teaching methodology.

As a theme in literary and cultural studies, norm and anomaly pertain to representations of transformed and transformative spaces. These include eerie landscapes, geographies of hope and despair, and sites of post-human activity, all of which have featured prominently in such modes of writing as environmental, risk, and speculative fiction. We also invite papers that address forms of expression and repression in modern and contemporary British and US culture. The problem and problematic of order and chaos, autonomy and oppression, harmony and discord open up further avenues for exploring norm and anomaly through reference to theatre, film, visual arts, television, computer and video games.

The linguistic aspect of norm and anomaly relates to the regularities and/or irregularities of linguistic usage, and to the ways in which norms and anomalies affect linguistic form and meaning or limit language use, its study and understanding. We invite proposals from intra- and interdisciplinary perspectives, such as constitute all areas of theoretical and applied linguistics – from semantics and sociolinguistics through morphology and historical linguistics to pragmatics, translation studies, and lexicography.

As a concern in teaching methodology, norm and anomaly are inseparable from the status of English as a global lingua franca. Across the world, English is part of the school curriculum, which results in the need to test the students’ skills formally. However, the focus on fluency and communicativeness frequently weakens accuracy requirements, and the gravity of errors is assessed against non-native speakers’ subjective judgements. The gap between the ultimate yet not fully attainable goal and the reality of the ELT classroom calls for redefining the parameters of teaching English in response to a number of questions: Is there still one set of norms learners should follow? Or, do norms vary depending on the learner’s progress and learning environment? Which language is the ‘norm’ – the English of the social media or the English of the classroom?

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