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Language Learner Narrative

An Exploration of Mündigkeit in Intercultural Literature

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Helen O'Sullivan

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.