Call for Papers: The Future of English in Asia: Perspectives on Language and Literature

The Future of English in Asia: Perspectives on Language and Literature

April 19-21, 2013
The Chinese University of Hong Kong

As English becomes progressively more multimodal and destandardized and as we look to a future where by 2050 Chinese “will have nearly triple the numbers of speakers that English has” (Ostler, 2003) it is important to explore how English can respond to the challenges and opportunities of this multilingual age. Whether we see English as a tool to “win friends and influence people,” as a lingua franca, or as a language whose use is now more symbolic than communicative, its possibilities remain endless. Now that English looks to a new stage in its history in this globalized “Asian century” it is timely that the future of English is explored from an Asian perspective.
If Hong Kong can provide us with an acid test for the possibilities that lie ahead for English in Asia, then recent events that point to a change in attitude to English in Hong Kong can be revealing of broader trends. It is important that the dimensions of this shift in perspective are examined so that the relevant disciplines (Linguistics, ESL, Literary Studies, World Englishes, English Education, to name but a selection) can adapt accordingly. In linguistics alone there has been a great deal of research on Hong Kong English (HKE) by Deterding, Kirkpatrick and others. It has been argued that English language benchmarks in HKE are often based on exonormative (usually RP English) models of English which may not represent the English actually spoken in Hong Kong (Kirkpatrick, 2007). This has informed recent debates in Hong Kong society on the relative merits of multilingual teachers and native English teachers for secondary schools. This conference sets out to explore how such issues are transforming English language teaching and learning in university curriculums across Asia.
English literary studies is another important element of English in Asia. Literary studies offers a valuable outlet and resource for English language students. Literary education fosters literacy and intercultural education as well as enabling imaginative and creative learning. It offers a broader approach to learning than one grounded solely on critical thinking. In a recent article on education in Hong Kong, Anthony Cheung Bing-leung points to the promise subjects such as literary studies can hold for education in general. Cheung Bing-leung argues that education in Hong Kong is in danger of becoming “commodity” education. He warns against what Harry Lewis, a former dean of Harvard, called “excellence without a soul”. He suggests we should offer a system of education where the “new generation” should “be able to display imagination and creativity unbounded by conventional wisdom and mainstream thinking”. In the current academic curriculum in Hong Kong, English literary studies (ELS) and the important local tradition of Hong Kong literature in English provide a valuable resource for such imaginative and creative learning.
This conference will explore various dimensions of English in Asia. The debates on the “role of English” in Hong Kong mediate broader political and social issues and these are relevant for English language teaching and learning in universities across Asia. This conference also examines English language publishing groups (both academic and non-academic) in Asia that are bringing together the different perspectives and different voices on English language teaching, learning and writing. Topics include, but are not restricted to:

Intercultural communication
English teaching and technology
Teaching English as a second/foreign language
World Englishes
Globalization and English
The future of English literary studies (ELS) in Asia
Theory in Asia
Hong Kong literature in English
Linguistics and the future of English in Asia
Pedagogy and English in Asia
Twenty-first century literatures in English
Publishing in English in Asia

Please send a 300 word abstract by November 30 to:

Selected papers will be put forward for publication

Contact: Dr. Michael O’Sullivan, Associate Professor, English Department, The Chinese University of Hong Kong