Language Learner Narrative

An Exploration of Mündigkeit in Intercultural Literature


Increasing numbers of people have contact with other cultures and languages Language Learner Narrative examines representations of this phenomenon in literary texts using an applied linguistic approach. This analysis of written narratives of language learning and cross-cultural encounter complements objective studies in intercultural communication and second language acquisition research. Kant’s use of the term Mündigkeit in his essay “What is Enlightenment?” is used to frame the complex issues of language, identity, meaning and reality presented by the texts. Augmented by Pierre Bourdieu’s concept of linguistic capital, this framing forms a counterpoint to the positioning of these authors as “avatar[s] of poststructuralist wisdom” (Eva Hoffman). The work includes a uniquely detailed linguistic analysis of Emine Sevgi Özdamar’s Mutter Zunge, and further texts by other widely studied and less familiar authors (Yoko Tawada, Eva Hoffman, Vassilis Alexakis, Zé Do Rock). It also lists literary sources of language learner narrative. Through its fundamental examination of what and how language means to us as individuals, this volume will be of wide appeal to students and researchers in applied linguistics, second language acquisition, intercultural communication and literary studies.

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Helen O’Sullivan is currently lecturing in German at Trinity College Dublin where she gained her PhD on language learner narrative in 2009 and her M.Phil in German Literature and Language Pedagogy in 2005. She holds an M.A. in Modern and Mediaeval Languages from Cambridge University. Since 2002 she has taught in English as a Foreign Language, Adult Literacy, German Linguistics, Intercultural Communication and the History of Ideas. Her main research interests lie in intercultural communication and intercultural literature.
Chapter One: Mündigkeit in the Contemporary Context: A Prolegomenon
Chapter Two: On Language Memoir? A Review of the Secondary Literature
Chapter Three: Conceptualizing the Language Learner
Chapter Four: Linguistics and Literature: Methodological Considerations
Chapter Five: Mündigkeit and the Linguistic Construction of the Subject
Chapter Six: Loss of Mündigkeit in Emine Sevgi Özdamar’s Mutter Zunge
Chapter Seven: The Use of Language in Mutter Zunge
Chapter Eight: Autonomy Abroad: Metaphors of Mündigkeit in Language Learner Narrative
Chapter Nine: Language Play and Metamündigkeit in Language Learner Narrative
Chapter Ten: Concluding Thoughts
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