English Dictionaries in Global and Historical Context

Conference hosted by the Strathy Language Unit and the Department of English at Queen's University
June 3-5, 2010


What intellectual and social impact have English and English-bilingual dictionaries had in the world from the era of the Latin-Anglo-Saxon glossary to the era of the collaboratively constructed and web-based Inuktitut Living Dictionary? To what extent did the manuscript and printed dictionaries of English from the 11th century to the 20th reflect and inform contemporaneous linguistic norms, literary movements and social mores, and how now, in the early 21st century, will the role of English as a lingua franca and the competition of burgeoning and irreverent user-compiled dictionaries affect or reshape the traditional dictionary?

At this conference we are looking at the codification of English lexicon through a wide-angle lens, examining English dictionaries not as cultural givens but as books with authors and readers, produced in a various historical and bicultural contexts, and serving particular artistic, cultural, commercial and political ends. We hope that the historical and cultural breadth of this conference will allow us to reconsider the role of English dictionaries today, in a world that is increasingly English-speaking and e-literate and yet digitally and economically stratified. Over 40 scholars from around the world will present papers, including keynote speakers Mark Abley (author of The Prodigal Tongue: Dispatches from the Future of English) and Srinivas Aravamudan (author of Guru English: South Asian Religion in A Cosmopolitan Language).

All those interested in dictionaries and the themes of this conference are welcome to register. Broad participation by academics, lexicographical professionals and community members will enrich our discussions. The keynote talks by Mark Abley, on Thursday evening, and Srinivas Aravamudan, on Saturday afternoon, will be open to the public.

Click here to download a pdf of the program. (PDF 203 KB)