The​ ​King’s​ ​English:​ ​language,​ ​colonialism​ ​and​ ​the nation​ ​state​ ​1537-1617 (Seminar, 15th November)

Elizabeth I (‘The Rainbow Portrait’) attributed to Isaac Oliver [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
The inaugural seminar for our Inventions of the Text series 2017-18 will explore tussles over language and identity in sixteenth and seventeenth century England. Join Professor​ ​Tony​ ​Crowley (University of Leeds) on 15th November at 17.30, in Durham University Elvet Riverside 247.

The paper will analyse the relations between language, colonialism and the English nation-state in the early sixteenth to early seventeenth centuries. Considering a range of texts, the discussion will focus on the emergence of a link between language and political allegiance, usually in the form of a concatenation of language and national identity, in the context of a chronic and acute set of problems that developed out of English colonialism in Ireland. The analysis will conclude by reversing the usual critical emphasis in order to evaluate the effects of linguistic colonialism in this period not on the Irish language, but upon one form of that fragile, unconfident, oft-derided language that we call English.

About the Speaker

Professor Crowley is Professor of English Language at the University of Leeds. His research interests lie broadly in the area of the politics of language, understood in general terms as the way in which language constructs, and is constructed by, forms of social power. His recent publications include The Politics of Discourse: The Standard Language Question in British Cultural Debates, Language in History: Theories and Texts, and Wars of Words: The Politics of Language in Ireland 1537-2004.

This Inventions of the Text seminar is open to all, including interested researchers and members of the public not studying at Durham. Attendees are asked to register their interest on Facebook if possible. There will also be the option of dinner with the speaker, so if that’s something you’re interested in, please don’t hesitate to contact the organisers via


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