The keynote speakers for the Anglistentag 2018 are:


Kate Flint (University of Southern California)

Surfaces of trees and stones: Victorian lichen and moss

When Donna Haraway, borrowing from recent biological scholarship, proclaims “We are all lichens now,” she speaks to the importance of symbiosis, co-dependence, inter-connectedness.  We may usefully extend this proclamation by historicizing the power and presence of lichen.  I consider the implications for us today of the lichen and its environmental fellow-traveler, moss, that appears in Victorian literature and painting, above all in the work of John Ruskin, Thomas Hardy, John Everett Millais, and John Brett.

Lichen and moss constitute two of the most ordinary and overlooked elements of the natural world.  They rarely call attention to themselves.  Yet they were central in Victorian natural history writing that emphasized the importance of attentive looking – sometimes designed to lead to the recognition of divine presence in the world, and of God’s care for even the most apparently insignificant of things; sometimes encouraging observers to find beauty in the everyday; sometimes prompting scientific curiosity at a democratic level.  Moss and lichen spoke to the significance of small.  Associated with age and the picturesque, they introduced questions about history and temporal scale.  Lichen acted as a bellwether for pollution.  Both stood for tenaciousness, endurance, adaptability, unexpected beauty – and sometimes, if unfairly, for the creeping blight of modernity.

My interest in these two organisms forms part of my current project, in which I ask how Victorian interest in the commonplace natural world is connected to contemporary ecological issues, and, above all, to recent art works that draw on Victorian motifs and practices in a deliberately polemical way, and that thus call attention to the long process of slow environmental violence.  The presence of lichen and moss in today’s environmental art provides a powerful example of the ecological connection of the Victorian period with our own.


Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor (Nairobi, Caine Prize winner)

The Admiral Returns

In 2005 a young woman, Mwamaka Sharifu from Pate Island, The Lamu Archipelago, (Kenya) East Africa, was given a scholarship to go and study in China. She was chosen on the basis of DNA test findings that implied that she was indeed a descendant of one of the shipwrecked Chinese mariners who, 600 years ago, as a member of what would be the last voyage of Ming dynasty great Admiral (explorer, diplomat, pilgrim) Zheng He, had survived a storm. The Admiral’s seventh voyage also marked a season of regime and policy change in China, when China turned its back on the seas it had dominated. Arguably, the late twentieth century revival (rehabilitation) of the cult of the Admiral in China gives mythic impetus to the 2013 Xi Ping evocation of the old Maritime Silk Road, in China’s ‘One Belt, One Road’ strategic development vision which encompasses and subsumes the Swahili Seas. So what does China’s return to Eastern Africa, by way of its seas portend for intimate and personal histories of a people whose life stories are embedded in the Western (Indian) Ocean? My new novel, The Dragonfly Sea (Knopf 2019), to be launched next March, is an imaginative exploration of the topic, and it draws from a persistent past (The Global Monsoon) that has deep tendrils in the present and future. It is a micro-story of the vast “Swahili Seas” seen through a coming-of-age narrative of a young woman from an island, though seemingly invisible to public attention, is a significant global ‘point zero’ to gaining insights into the meaning of the dramatic and emphatic Chinese return to Eastern Africa.


Peter Trudgill (Université de Fribourg)

Dialect contact and its outcomes: on the inevitability of koinés

During the period of colonial expansion starting from the 15th century onwards, a number of Western European languages were transplanted to other continents. This produced new varieties of these languages which were different from those of the metropolitan homeland. Well-known examples include the English of the USA; the French of Canada; the Portuguese of Brazil; and the Spanish of Argentina. There are two major fallacies in the literature concerning these colonial varieties. The first is the Monogenesis Fallacy. Examples of this include Wagner’s assertion that Latin American Spanish was originally just a variety of European Andalusian Spanish. Rivard similary argued that Canadian French was nothing but transplanted European French from Normandy. Hammarström equally suggested that Australian English was simply transplanted Cockney. And the same argument was also made for New Zealand English by Wall. The second is the Identity Fallacy. Many scholars who do not accept the monogenetic fallacy nevertheless subscribe to the fallacy that these new polygenetic overseas varieties develop in colonies as a result of the role of identity. Moore (1999) writes that “with language one of the most significant markers of national identity, it’s not surprising that post-colonial societies like Australia, the United States, Canada, New Zealand, should want to distinguish their language from that of the mother tongue”. The belief that speakers develop new varieties knowingly and deliberately is particularly disturbing. In this paper I argue against these fallacies, and suggest that the process of new-dialect formation is due to dialect contact and dialect mixture.
Moore, Bruce. 1999. Australian English: Australian identity. Lingua Franca.








Image Kate Flint:

Image Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor:

Image Peter Trudgill: