Annette Kern-Stähler and David Britain (eds.). English on the Move. Mobilities in Literature and Language. SPELL 27, 2012

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(available online one year after publication)


“All the world seems to be on the move.” So began Sheller and Urry’s declaration of a ‘new mobilities paradigm’, a critique of what they called the sedentarism of contemporary social theory. In linguistic, literary and cultural studies, mobility and movement have been receiving increasing critical attention for at least two decades. English on the Move: Mobilities in Literature and Language seeks to harness some of this critique to explore how mobilities, both mundane and dramatic, are represented, narrated, performed and negotiated in literature and discourse, as well as the repercussions and consequences of mobility on language and dialect.


Table of Contents

Introduction 11

Elleke Boehmer (Oxford)
The Worlding of the Jingo Poem 17

Simon Swift (Leeds)
New Mass Movements: Hannah Arendt, Literature and Politics 39

Barbara Buchenau (Bern)
The Goods of Bad Mobility: Pierre-Esprit Radisson’s The Relation of my Voyage, being in Bondage in the Lands of the Irokoits, 1669/1885 53

Martin Heusser (Zurich)
“Why I Write about Mexico”: Mexicanness in Katherine Anne Porter’s “Flowering Judas” and “María Concepción” 69

Margaret Tudeau-Clayton (Neuchâtel)
Shakespeare and Immigration 81

Sarah Chevalier (Zurich)
Mobile Parents, Multilingual Children: Children’s Production of Their Paternal Language in Trilingual Families 99

Simone E. Pfenninger (Zurich)
Moving Towards an Earlier Age of Onset of L2 Learning: A Comparative Analysis of Motivation in Swiss Classrooms 117

Patricia Ronan (Lausanne)
Mobilizing Linguistic Concepts: Support Verb Structures in Early English 145

Notes on Contributors 163

Index of Names 167


All the world seems to be on the move. Asylum seekers, international students, terrorists, members of diasporas, holidaymakers, business people, sports stars, refugees, backpackers, commuters, the early retired, young mobile professionals, prostitutes, armed forces – these and many others fill the world’s airports, buses, ships, and trains. The scale of this travelling is immense. Internationally there are over 700 million legal passenger arrivals each year (compared with 25 million in 1950) [. . .] there are 4 million air passengers each day; 31 million refugees are displaced from their homes; and there is one car for every 8.6 people. These diverse yet intersecting mobilities have many consequences for different peoples and places that are located in the fast and slow lanes across the globe. (Sheller and Urry 207)

The Worlding of the Jingo Poem
Elleke Boehmer
This essay looks critically at the circulation of the jingo poem as cultural artifact and imperial message through the networked domain of the British empire. Though the jingo poem has never drawn the same critical attention as an ideological vehicle of empire as has the imperial adventure story, verse acclaiming British values and exhorting Britons to follow the flag, the essay submits, acted as both a powerful catalyst and a conduit for imperialist attitudes. Indeed, within the increasingly more complicated global webs and circuits of the expanding empire, the jingo poem – tub-thumping and also anthemic, exhortatory but at times elegiac – provided sources of inspiration and sustaining intimations of fellow feeling, strongly and evocatively expressed. Whereas the novel provided a symbolic cartography, however incomplete, of that expanding world, the jingo poem, never so spatialized or so nuanced, offered incentives on an emotional level. Traversing colonial borderlines and ocean spaces, migrating, as refrain, from music hall to newspaper page, and, as exhortatory rhetoric, from the oeuvre of one colonial versifier to that of another (Henley, Kipling, Newbolt) – the poem carried not only British imperial convictions but also British nationalist feelings, projected on to a global stage.

New Mass Movements: Hannah Arendt, Literature and Politics
Simon Swift
This essay considers the prominence of the word “movement,” and of ideas of fluidity, displacement and mobility in different forms across Hannah Arendt’s writings of the 1950s and 1960s. I argue that Arendt made significant use of literature in order to make sense of a range of political movements, including Nazism, the student protest movement of the 1960s, and Black Power. She did so because she found political theory – and especially Marxist ideas of the state and of class interest – to be singularly incapable of making sense of the phenomenon of a political movement. Nazism was characterized, for Arendt, by an abandonment of any settled political ideology, as well as by a need to be perpetually on the move, and to move and displace those who were subject to its power. I argue that in the 1960s, Arendt drew attention to a different form of political movement – the motion that is accorded to political subjects by their emotions. I claim that this later argument prefigures more recent work in the field of emotion studies, while providing a model for a different understanding of an inter-disciplinary English studies, which is itself on the move.

The Goods of Bad Mobility: Pierre-Esprit Radisson’s The Relation of my Voyage, being in Bondage in the Lands of the Irokoits, 1669/1885
Barbara Buchenau
This paper addresses an early modern form of undesirable mobility, Indian captivity and enslavement, on the basis of the theorizations of cultural and social mobility set forth by Mimi Sheller and John Urry in the social sciences and Stephen Greenblatt in the humanities. Investigating the seventeenth-century report of the French Canadian coureur de bois Pierre- Esprit Radisson, the paper shows how the loss of liberty and the enforcement of spatial and cultural mobility produce a textual sense of masculine subjectivity that thrives on an economy of disenfranchisement. This non-canonical, but nonetheless influential text recasts the movements into and out of captivity and human bondage as personal assets and marketable goods. Captivity and bondage, in this scenario, are not bad after all, because they offer economic and social mobility in the borderlands of competing anglophone, francophone and indigenous communities. Stories such as Radisson’s foster faith in good mobility and fear of bad mobility simultaneously. And captivity emerges as a good of western modernity, marketable especially, if the male subject can claim to have mastered its experience of subjection.

“Why I Write about Mexico”: Mexicanness in Katherine Anne Porter’s “Flowering Judas” and “María Concepción”
Martin Heusser
In 1931, Waldo Frank, a renowned specialist in Latin American studies, observed in the New Republic that “for intelligent North Americans to visit Mexico begins to be a custom.” He explained this trend by adding that “Mexico vaguely seems to offer from afar something which he lacks and craves” (quoted in Delpar, The Enormous Vogue of Things Mexican 197). One of the authors who was most strongly drawn to and who felt an inexplicable kinship with Mexico in this period was Katherine Anne Porter. She traveled to Mexico repeatedly and spent almost three years of her life south of the border. This experience, she explains, satisfied her ill-defined but extremely powerful desire for “a straight, undeviating purpose” – and it had a decisive influence on her writing. The main function of Porter’s journeys to Mexico is both the literary construction and the actual experience of a space where she could explore the missing links of her own life. Powerful fictional characters, such as María Concepción, who murders her faithless lover, or the transcendentally sensual Laura, whose very existence is alienation, become reflections of the author herself, who felt deeply rifted, torn between what she perceived to be her own, fragmented identity and an essentialist, ultimately Romantic version of selfhood that she craved.

Shakespeare and Immigration
Margaret Tudeau-Clayton
This paper proposes a new argument about the contribution by Hand D, widely agreed to be Shakespeare’s, to the perilously topical reprise of the 1517 “Ill May Day” anti-alien riots in The Book of Sir Thomas More (?1593/1604). The contribution’s discontinuity with the rest of the playtext is claimed to be a function less of the material conditions of production usually evoked by scholars than of an impasse between “arguments on both sides,” like that in a leaked parliamentary debate about “aliens” which took place in March 1593. Combining a specific echo of this debate with an echo from a description of English victims of enclosure in the historical More’s Utopia Shakespeare makes a case, through the eponymous protagonist, on behalf of strangers against the case made by fellow authorial hands on behalf of citizens. If this aligns him politically with the court, Shakespeare does not simply toe a court line. Rather he takes an ethical stand, summoning an alliance across the religious divide and across the century between those who speak on behalf of the dispossessed – whether European “aliens” or “Englishmen foreign,” internal immigrants who are likewise victims of exclusionary violence, as Shakespeare invites his hearers, including fellow authorial hands, to recognise.

Mobile Parents, Multilingual Children: Children’s Production of Their Paternal Language in Trilingual Families
Sarah Chevalier
This paper examines the language production of two young children exposed to three languages from infancy. The paper focuses on the children’s production of their paternal languages, which are minority languages for both children. It concentrates on the children’s choice of language with their fathers, and seeks reasons for these choices. The framework of the analysis is that of social interactionism, which emphasises the role of child-directed speech for certain aspects of language development (e.g. Barnes, Child-Directed Speech). The method consists of longitudinal case studies of the two children, each of which is growing up with frequent and intensive exposure to English, Swiss German and French. The analysis reveals the following factors to be of greatest relevance: the conversational styles of the fathers, certain language exposure patterns, in particular the presence or absence of the community language in the home, and input in the paternal language from friends and relatives.

Moving Towards an Earlier Age of Onset of L2 Learning: A Comparative Analysis of Motivation in Swiss Classrooms
Simone E. Pfenninger
This study was conducted against the backdrop of the recent expansion of L2 teaching at Swiss elementary school level and analyzes the motivational dispositions of 200 students with differing ages of onset of learning and consequently a different amount of L2 instruction. Based on Dörnyei’s L2 Motivational Self-System, it is shown that out of 12 motivational areas, the only dimension that yielded significant differences between the two age-groups is the Ideal L2 Self. English is generally appraised with equally positive attitudes and dispositions by early classroom learners and late classroom learners alike, which supports the hypothesis that the amount of instruction received or the age of onset do not have a great influence on the learners’ motivation levels in an instructed setting (e.g. Tragant). However, the ideal L2 English selves, which are believed to be pivotal in L2 learning success (see e.g. Csizér and colleagues), are most well developed for the late starters, which possibly accounts for their well-attested head start at the beginning of middle school.

Mobilizing Linguistic Concepts: Support Verb Structures in Early English

Patricia Ronan
This study investigates the use of support verb constructions in an Old English corpus in comparison with a sample corpus from Chaucer’s late 14th century Canterbury Tales. The investigation focuses on the use of support verb constructions with loan-derived predicate nouns and observes that, while the percentage of loaned predicate nouns roughly corresponds to that of loan words in Old English overall, Chaucer uses considerably more foreign derived predicate nouns in support verb constructions than in non-support verb contexts. While a number of these constructions seem to be employed for stylistic or poetic considerations, others, particularly those with the support verb do, clearly fill gaps in the verbal system that result from recent language contact. This shows that Chaucer uses support verb constructions to incorporate new verbal concepts into his language and it suggests that the higher level of foreign derived predicate nouns is stimulated by the increased level of language contact in Middle English as compared to Old English. 

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