The Creative Multilingualism Project
BAFTSS Executive Committee member Professor Rajinder Dudrah is a Co-Investigator on a major AHRC Open World Research Initiative consortia project led by the University of Oxford, entitled ‘Creative Multilingualism’. This is a 4 year project that was awarded £3.9m and started in July 2016. The following is an outline of the project’s broader aims with links to the website and 2 forthcoming networking events in Oxford later this month. Both are free and open to all interested in the research, though booking in advance is required via Eventbrite.
Creative Multilingualism as Language-led research for the 21st century
Languages are currently valued mainly as practical tools for basic transactions in monoglot contexts. Yet language use is a creative act, and linguistic diversity forms part of the human condition. It shapes our cultural identities and facilitates cultural exchange. Languages evolve with the needs of individuals who acquire, use and transform linguistic resources in interaction with multiple intersecting communities. Languages change and mingle as cultural constellations shift, and linguistic diversity can turn new technical possibilities into communicative innovations. The purpose of the Creative Multilingualism research programme is to involve researchers from different disciplines, expertise in a wide range of languages, and partners from beyond academia in order to gain an enhanced understanding of the interdependence and interaction between linguistic diversity and creativity.
Creative Multilingualism as a response to the crisis in Modern Languages
The crisis of Modern Foreign Languages in UK schools has serious consequences for higher education, business, and diplomacy. Its roots lie in globalisation, the rise of English as global lingua franca, and expansion of electronic media dominated by English. It also marks the failure of UK policy-makers and the educational sectors to address these challenges with the necessary understanding, imagination, and unity of purpose.
This research programme exploits the crisis as an opportunity to engage stakeholders in a collaborative process of rethinking the identity of Modern Languages from the ground up. It seeks to dismantle assumed oppositions between ‘vocational’ and ‘academic’ purposes, and develop a concept of languages that responds to the varied needs of individuals and communities in the contemporary world.
Researchers from the universities of Oxford, Birmingham City, Cambridge, Reading, SOAS (London) and Pittsburgh will pool their expertise in over 40 languages to unlock the subject’s creative and connective potential by investigating how languages and creativity interact in processes involving more than one language.
As such the following two main research questions are at the centre of the programme’s investigation:
1) How does multilingualism stimulate creativity, what types of creativity are involved in
multilingualism, and how do they manifest themselves in multilingual processes?
2) How can the theory and practice of multilingual creativity strengthen take-up and learning of languages in schools and wider society, and enhance their perceived value?
Strand 4 Languages in the Creative Economy
As a Co-Investigator, Rajinder is leading one of the 7 strands entitled ‘Languages in the Creative Economy’ and is working closely with Professors Julie Curtis and Philip Bullock at Oxford, together with their strand cultural partners: Oxford Lieder, Punch Records and Sputnik Theatre Company. Collectively they are working across the languages of Black British Patois and Creole languages, English, Hindi, Punjabi Russian Urdu. One of the key research questions of the strand is how can we capture the creative stimulus generated by multilingual processes in performance of music and drama?
Project Website: http://www.creativeml.ox.ac.uk/
Strand 4 – Languages in the Creative Economy: http://www.creativeml.ox.ac.uk/research/creative-economy
Details of the free project event LinguaMania at the Ashmolean on Friday 27 January 2017: http://www.creativeml.ox.ac.uk/languages-creativity/exploring-multilingualism/introducing-linguamania-evening-multilingual
And free project launch conference ‘Languages and Creativity’ on Saturday 28 January 2017: http://www.creativeml.ox.ac.uk/about/events/conference-languages-creativity