CfP-Focus Conference (Deadline April 30th, 2020) "Teaching the Speech Act – Identity Inscriptions and their Sociolinguistic Implications in the Classroom"

Mareike Lange's picture
Call for Papers
September 18, 2020 to September 19, 2020
Ohio, United States
Subject Fields: 
Cultural History / Studies, German History / Studies, Humanities, Languages, Linguistics

Call for Papers and Projects

25th Annual FOCUS Graduate Student Conference at the University of Cincinnati

Department of German Studies

September 18. – 19., 2020


Teaching the Speech Act – Identity Inscriptions and their Sociolinguistic Implications in the Classroom

Keynote Speaker: Dr. Christine Mallinson; University of Maryland, Baltimore County

            Teaching languages is essential, especially from a present-day perspective, yet language education is on the decline in the US. In the meantime, professional organizations that promote language learning increasingly advocate for language learning as a rote skill for purposes of economic and national security rather than as a valuable pursuit in and of itself. While applied linguistics has provided teachers with effective and efficient methods of language teaching, these practical, utilitarian approaches to teaching language too often ignore the sociolinguistic complexities of language in use. How, for example, do we teach gender-neutral language for languages in which standardized options do not yet exist? Similarly, how do we teach certain linguistic forms (e.g. word order in German subordinate clauses or “double negatives” in English) associated with linguistic discrimination without replicating and reinforcing this linguistic discrimination?

            Teaching and learning languages – as it happens in school lessons, as well as in everyday casual contexts – transcends domains such as grammar, orthography and lexicon. This conference seeks to foster a dialogue between sociolinguistic theory and teaching realities. By looking at methods of language teaching that include aspects of an awareness of norms and variations and by taking situational appropriateness, target, addressee and media as well as socially relevant identity inscriptions into account, this conference aims to be at the interface between theory and praxis. Themes may include but are not limited to:


  • Social and regional origin, gender, religion, generation, social groups, migration, multilingualism, and language change and their influence on language
  • Heterogeneity vs. homogeneity in the classroom
  • Subjective factors of language attitudes and language ideologies
  • Intersections between language and critical race theory, e.g. raciolinguistics, linguistic profiling
  • Queer theory and queer linguistics
  • Influences of sociolinguistics on education and language pedagogy
  • Critical approaches to teaching with technology
  • Varieties of language – Youth language; computer-mediated communication; spoken colloquial language


Whereas we are anticipating and encouraging academic discussion fostered by conventional conference presentations, we would also like to encourage students to present creative works that fit the overall frame of the conference (e.g. concept-grounded artistic approaches to pedagogy). We encourage submissions from all Germanic fields (i.e. Germanic languages, including but not limited to English, German, Dutch, Yiddish, and Scandinavian languages) but also welcome contributions from other disciplines. Submissions in German or English are welcome. Current Graduate Students are invited to submit abstracts or project descriptions (250-300 words in length), accompanied by a short bio, to Mareike Lange and Barbara Besendorfer at by April 30th, 2020. Please use the subject “Focus 25”.

Contact Info: 

Mareike Lange and Barbara Besendorfer at

Contact Email: