Creative Approaches to Memory NUBS 2.05
Jul 05, 2023 11:00 - 12:30(Europe/London)
20230705T1100 20230705T1230 Europe/London 3.17. EUROTALES - A Museum Lab of the Voices of Europe. Representing the Memory of Languages

The panel groups three scholars Nadia Cannata, Professor of Italian Linguistics at Sapienza, Università di Roma, Maia Wellington Gahtan, Professor, College of Architecture and Environmental Design, Kent State University, Ohio (Florence Campus) and Prof. Margaret Sonmez who teaches English Language and Literature at METU (Middle Eastern Technical University, Ankara). They co-direct a new experimental museum EUROTALES - A Museum Lab of the Voices of Europe, based at Sapienza, University of Rome. Its methodological approach is aimed at reconstructing the 'linguistic culture' of communities in time and space, rather than focusing on the history of individual languages. Since languages are a commonly shared and intangible cultural heritage which exist in individuals, in the texts they produce and in the territories they inhabit, the museum is striving to represent them through the testimony that these can offer, rather than the abstract contextualization which lies at the core of the concepts of 'English' 'French' 'Italian' 'Spanish' etc. Languages are historical documents in their own right, yet they live mostly in the liquid dimension of orality, changing incessantly over time, space and constantly adjusting to the varieties of human communication. Therefore the matter of language is to be found in people as well as objects alongside the written documentation that they produce and partially store. EUROTALES Museum Laboratory of the Voices of Europe represents the languages which have resonated and resonate in Europe through three collections: RESONANCES (past and present), TRACES and MILESTONES. Resonances and Traces retrieve and reveal the archaeological stratification of languages in people and territories, today and in the past and form our Diffuseum. These are set ...

NUBS 2.05 MSA Conference Newcastle 2023 conference@memorystudiesassociation.org
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The panel groups three scholars Nadia Cannata, Professor of Italian Linguistics at Sapienza, Università di Roma, Maia Wellington Gahtan, Professor, College of Architecture and Environmental Design, Kent State University, Ohio (Florence Campus) and Prof. Margaret Sonmez who teaches English Language and Literature at METU (Middle Eastern Technical University, Ankara). They co-direct a new experimental museum EUROTALES - A Museum Lab of the Voices of Europe, based at Sapienza, University of Rome. Its methodological approach is aimed at reconstructing the 'linguistic culture' of communities in time and space, rather than focusing on the history of individual languages. Since languages are a commonly shared and intangible cultural heritage which exist in individuals, in the texts they produce and in the territories they inhabit, the museum is striving to represent them through the testimony that these can offer, rather than the abstract contextualization which lies at the core of the concepts of 'English' 'French' 'Italian' 'Spanish' etc. Languages are historical documents in their own right, yet they live mostly in the liquid dimension of orality, changing incessantly over time, space and constantly adjusting to the varieties of human communication. Therefore the matter of language is to be found in people as well as objects alongside the written documentation that they produce and partially store. EUROTALES Museum Laboratory of the Voices of Europe represents the languages which have resonated and resonate in Europe through three collections: RESONANCES (past and present), TRACES and MILESTONES. Resonances and Traces retrieve and reveal the archaeological stratification of languages in people and territories, today and in the past and form our Diffuseum. These are set against the more traditional collection of the Milestones commonly accepted by scholarship, defining the history of individual languages inhabiting European territory. As collections grow across the museum, they promise to tangle and disrupt the community and territorial narratives proposed by traditional approaches to language and history. This is the concept which sits at the core of our collaborative and experimental museum project. EUROTALES, A Museum Laboratory of the Voices of Europe, is the first language museum in Europe based in an academic institution and combines cutting edge research with reaching to the community to retrieve documentation on languages in use in the present, in the past and their echo on the ground through objects, palces, shared memories. The general public which is actively contributing to all its collections, both in Rome and through our international partners based in Madrid, Glasgow, Bruxelles, Munchen, Athens, Bucharest, a network which we hope to continue expanding. The museum is aimed at the representation of languages as a dynamic and shared heritage and its collections, are drawn from three big data sets: RESONANCES TRACES, and MILESTONES which will be illustrated in depth in the papers comprised in the panel.



Nadia Cannata

The Matter of Language: Representing linguistic cultures in a Museum space

The paper will discuss the complex issues involved in accounting for the birth and historical development of modern languages in Europe, and of their varieties and perceived identities. It will offer a review of relevant approaches to this field of language studies and discuss the crucial role played by historical sociolinguistics, in particular when combined with studies in the history of written culture. Moving from this historical review the paper will argue in favour of a new experimental approach aimed at looking at individual languages and linguistic identities as a dynamic and everchanging manifestation of the 'linguistic culture' of communities, which need to be considered in their complex existence through time and space. The reconstruction of a 'linguistic culture' of a territory over time can yield information on that territory, its culture, history and the history of its peoples of greater relevance to the memory of communities and their cultural production than is the history of individual languages or indeed of the language which has dominated the written culture and institutions in that particular land. In conclusion the author will illustrate the concept sitting at the core of a recently launched experimental museum, EUROTALES, A Museum Laboratory of the Voices of Europe, base at the University of Rome "La Sapienza", a collaborative project aimed at the representation of languages as a dynamic and shared heritage and present its collections, which are drawn from three big data sets: TRACES, RESONANCES and MILESTONES. Papers 2 and 3 will deal in depth with the first two datasets, this paper will discuss, in conclusion, how we normally identify the MILESTONES which mark the historical development of languages and how to interpret them in the light of the experimental and innovative methodological approach attempted by this museum.


Maia Wellington Gahtan

Tracing languages in the DIFFUSEUM

A language TRACE is a linguistic event documented through its relation to a tangible object, monument or place, whose memory echoes through that material host. The memory may take oral or written form such as spoken phrase attached in the collective memory to an object or a toponym, or it could be a graffito left on a monument, or an inscribed dedication, an epitaph, a votive note. In their myriad forms, language traces illustrate the deep and layered relationship between tangible objects and their intangible significance--they represent, in essence, the linguistic dimension of place and material culture and allow us to build an archaeology of languages attached to objects, past and present. While inscriptions and period descriptions are often used by historians and art historians to interpret works of art, less attention has generally been paid to the precise status of linguistic events in relation to material culture. Even less attention has gone into how this relationship might have changed over time or to comparing it across different geographic areas. Our growing museum collection-entitled, DIFFUSEUM, represents a page within the larger EUROTALES collection that promises to aid scholars of language, literature and material culture to more precisely identify, categorize and interpret the linguistic dimension of cultural and community heritage as well as retrace the steps of languages in Europe across its whole territory and history.


Margaret Sonmez

Languages resonate (today and in the past)

Resonances store and describe the unique linguistic identity of individuals, which is never monolingual nor absorbed exclusively by the language dominant in the community. Our identity is constituted by our mother tongue, as well as by all the languages which resonate in us: languages used with family and friends and in formal settings, the language through which we were taught to read and write, and languages that belong to our own linguistic genealogies (parents, grandparents, and our closest family members). For writers and performers, an integral part of their linguistic identity is also the language(s) used for their art, as was English for the Polish-born Joseph Conrad, or Italian is for the Jhumpa Lahiri, the American author of Indian origin who chose Italian as the language of her novels.

Resonances present collect anonymised information on the linguistic cultures of our contemporaries for a selection of European cities (where the institutions currently participating to the museum project are based): mother tongue, the languages in use (academic, every day, written, oral) relating them to age, provenance and other personal data.

Resonances past investigate the linguistic biographies of historical personages integrating them with their writing and activity. This collection shows that very often mother tongues are not the dominant languages in people's lives, and it indicates the extent to which culture and social relations shape personal histories and the relative functions of the languages we know and use.

In addition to its sociolinguistic importance, this collection promises to offer a new perspective on the history of multilingualism and the memory of languages in individuals, while at the same time providing historians the opportunity to use such linguistic information to interpret literature and other textual products.

We have collected so far around 2000 Resonances present and 120 between Resonances Past and Traces.

Professor
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METU - Middle Eastern Technical University
Professor
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Sapienza University of Rome
Professor, College of Architecture and Environmental Design
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Kent State University, Florence Campus
Professor
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Sapienza University of Rome
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