Reminder! CFP: Draper Student Organization Fall 2013 Conference deadline in two weeks!

Contaminated Language: Distortions, Innovations, Misrepresentations, and Neologisms


An Interdisciplinary Graduate Conference at New York University


Presented by:

John W. Draper Interdisciplinary Master’s Program in Humanities and Social Thought.


The Draper Student Organization is pleased to announce a call for papers for the Fall 2013 graduate student conference, Contaminated Language.

The conference will be held on November 16, 2013.


In his famous essay “The Task of the Translator,” the philosopher Walter Benjamin argued there were two distinct categories of language. The first was “pure language”; God’s language in which the concept, material, and word were one. In turn however, human language was defined by its inconsistencies and imperfections—concept, material, and word were not wholly unified. Difference is found within and across languages. It was the goal of the translator, Benjamin contended, to bring the languages of mankind closer to God’s: to strive for purity.


Following Benjamin, how then might language be considered impure or contaminated? How do inconsistencies, variances, and imperfections create conflict within language? How many interpretations could there be of the phrase “lost in translation”? How might the idea of cross contamination be applied in an interdisciplinary sense? Can we ever get back to an “ur-language” (pure language)? How are methods of communication distorted or innovated? Such questions can apply not strictly to linguistics but other forms of communication in general


We invite interdisciplinary papers and presentations by current graduate students from all disciplines. These may be theoretical, empirical, applied or narrative (or a combination of all the above). We are interested in work that crosses traditional academic boundaries.


Possible themes for papers include but are not restricted to:

*      How social movements translate between cultures

*      The varied meanings of social labels and categories

*      How language changes over time

*      Comparing different languages

*      Analyzing relationships between linguistic networks

*      Examining other non-linguistic methods of communication

*      Semiotics

*      Kinship between languages

*      Development of a language over time

*      Dead or spoken languages

*      Media and communication studies

*      Analysis of the development of language within popular culture: jargon, slang etc.

*      Language as it pertains to culture/religion

*      Written and/or oral language

*      Language within literature

*      The language of disciplines/professions

*      Linguistics

*      Philology

*      Poetry

*      Language as representing or misrepresenting point of view and/or reality.


In addition to papers, we encourage unorthodox formats, including artistic pieces, presentations featuring games or other interactive elements, as well as collaborative work and panel presentations.


Please submit a 150-300 word abstract for a fifteen-minute presentation/paper to by September 30, 2013.

We will email responses within one week. 




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