Colloquium: Histories of Prescriptivism

Alternative approaches to the study of English 1700-1900
University of Sheffield: 3-5 July, 2003

This colloquium arises out of a collaboration between Joan Beal, Jane Hodson and Richard-Steadman-Jones (University of Sheffield, UK), and Carol Percy (University of Toronto, Canada).*

We wish to consider how the standardization and codification of English in the later modern period both marginalized and was manipulated by, authors who were in some way outside the mainstream of 'polite' British society. Previous studies of English grammars in this period have emphasized the role of grammars in catering for the social aspirations of the bourgeois, maintaining the political status quo and uniting the British nation and Empire under the banner of a uniform standard. This colloquium aims to challenge such a monolithic view of approaches to language study in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, demonstrating that there were other, more radical approaches and agendas, whilst recognizing that the end result was, in many cases 'prescriptive'. We aim to explore the tension between 'radical' agendas and prescriptivism, and to re-evaluate the prescriptive/ descriptive dichotomy.

Papers are invited on any 18th or 19th-century author whose work, or biography, marks them as outside the mainstream in this way, by virtue of being 'radical' in political attitudes, dissenting in religion, female, geographically distant from London (either within, or outside the British Isles), or in any other way. Abstracts (maximum 400 words) were to have been submitted to by April 30th, 2003. It is expected that a selection of papers will be published.

Colloquium information

General information about about Venue.

The conference will take place at the ILASH Suite, room 206, West Court, 2 Mappin Street, Sheffield S1. See the map.
Registration will begin at 4pm on July 3, at the ILASH suite. The first session will be on July 3, at 5pm. Sessions on 4 and 5 July will begin at 9:30. We plan to have lunch and farewell on 5 July at 1 pm.

Here is an MS Word copy of the programme, as of 1 July. We're scheduling 30 minutes for each paper and 15 minutes for discussion.

Conference accommodation is at Halifax Hall, Endcliffe Vale Road. See the map.

Download the booking form and return it to Jules Arbon-Davis ASAP (even if you don't need accommodation); thanks!
Jules Arbon-Davis
9, Shearwood Road
Sheffield S10 2TD
fax: (0)114 278 8251

Papers offered:

For further information contact Joan Beal.

*The research collaboration leading to this colloquium has been funded by the British Academy and the Association of Commonwealth Universities (grant CADF 2001 20).