Higher sem. Biling. Maria Kuteeva: Tension-filled repertoires


Date: Tuesday 19 April 2022

Time: 15.00 – 16.30

Location: On Zoom, see below.

Higher seminar in Bilingualism. Tension-filled repertoires: A Bakhtinian perspective. Maria Kuteeva, Professor, English Department.

To the Zoom seminar

This talk is based on my latest book project that adopts a Bakhtinian perspective to account for the use of English in multilingual university settings. Bakhtin's view of language as dialogic, multi-voiced, and imbued with social tensions (e.g. 1981, 1984, 1986) has inspired many directions in research concerned with bilingualism and bilingual education. For example, numerous studies conducted over the last decade have drawn on the umbrella concept of heteroglossia* to explore the interplay between different codes. Other aspects of Bakhtin’s work, such as the role of unitary language, language contact or relationships between genres, have received less attention. Bakhtin’s interest in the dialogic and heteroglossic features of written discourse makes his theoretical insights particularly relevant to explore multilingual practices mediated by literacy.
The author’s linguistic repertoire is key in creating ‘a dialogue of languages’ (Bakhtin, 1981: 294) in written discourse. In order to explore how this dialogue is experienced, my talk will zoom in on two aspiring 'translingual authors', i.e. authors who write in more than one language or a language other than their L1 (Kellman 2000, Pavlenko 2014). Informed by recent bilingualism research which draws its inspiration in Bakhtin (e.g. Busch 2017, Pavlenko 2006; 2014), my study combines the analysis of sample texts and interviews with their authors to unveil tensions between the desired and present linguistic repertoires. I will show that such tensions also drive multilingual creativity, as writing in English can be experienced both as 'emancipatory detachment' (Pavlenko, 2014: 280) and as a straitjacket.
*The term heteroglossia was introduced by English translators of Bakhtin to cover three inter-related concepts: ‘raznorechie’ (разноречие, diversity in speech), ‘raznoyazychie’ (разноязычие, diversity in language) and ‘raznogolosie’ (разноголосие, diversity in voicedness).

Maria Kuteeva

About the Higher seminar in Research on Bilingualism