ESIDRP Conference 2022

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Conference plenary speakers


Richard Fay: “Languaging interdisciplinarily: English at the intercultural interface”

Interdisciplinary collaboration is notoriously difficult, and knowledge flows between disciplines have been critiqued for privileging certain voices from certain contexts (geographic and disciplinary) in certain languages (e.g. English), thereby raising the possibility of epistemic injustice. English, as THE global language of our time, is at the interface of such concerns. It is also a major medium for intercultural encounters of both an interpersonal and inter-knowledging character. What happens when ideas from one discipline are brought - through the medium of English - into another? And what are the implications — for English language specialists (and especially teachers and researchers) — of the role of English in such encounters? In this talk, I will explore such questions with reference to a number of projects in which I have recently participated.

Elena Marchevska: “Caring for the future: Dystopian literature and art at the edge of a collapsing world“

In recent decades, the birth rate in many Western countries has decreased dramatically and the troles and representations of maternal figures have changed significantly. Through IVF, gamete donation and surrogacy, motherhood is no longer defined univocally, and family structures have evolved accordingly. This paper seeks to investigate how biotechnology, social and family changes inform an interdisciplinary perspective of the representations of motherhood in feminist dystopian literature, plays and art. I will focus the paper on the following three novels: Naomi Alderman’s The Power (2016); Anne Charnock's Dreams Before the Start of Time (2017) and Louise Erdrich’s Future Home of the Living God (2017). I will use comparative analysis to discuss how these novels engage in a dialogue with wider contemporary trends in feminist writing and art, which look at dystopian visions of humans’ reproductive strategies. I will use the work of the feminist philosophers Rosalyn Diprose and Lisa Baraitser to contextualise how these novels challenge and extend notions of the ethics of care. I am particularly interested in how the authors’ depictions of a dystopian future see the act of caring for children (and consequently each other and the world) as interdependent activities which involve constant learning of how to wait, be patient, trust and listen.

Joy Lynn Egbert: “Task engagement as a facilitator of achievement in language learning“

Motivation -- which can be loosely defined as a person’s willingness or desire to become involved in a specific field, content, or task -- has been linked to achievement in language learning for decades. More recent study, however, suggests that motivation itself is insufficient to support learning, and, perhaps, does not explain outcomes as clearly as the notion of task engagement does.
Task engagement is generally defined as the level of involvement in a task. Catalysts for task engagement noted in the literature include authenticity, interest, a challenge/skills balance, an autonomy/structure balance, social interaction, and support (including just-in-time feedback). Additional constructs such as “playfulness” are under study.
Although it helps, it is not necessary to have motivation to be engaged in a task, in the same way that being motivated does not imply that a task will be engaging. For example, many learners are quite motivated in general to learn English; when they get to class, however, the tasks may not be engaging to them, and they may not learn as well or as much as they could. Conversely, if learners are not motivated toward English but the language tasks are engaging to them, learners can still achieve.
Emerging theories of task engagement address diverse learners across fields and levels. Applying facilitators of task engagement to lessons may help teachers mediate factors in the environment external to the classroom and lead to more equitable access to learning, better integration of disciplines and topics, and greater learner achievement.

Steven V. Foulke: “Attitudes Towards Immigrants and Immigration in the U.S. Great Plains: Regional Literature as A Lens“

The U.S. Great Plains – stretching from the Dakotas in the north to the panhandle of Texas in the south – is a vast region, dominated by seemingly endless grazing acreage and farmland. Euro-American settlement of this part of the United States began in the mid-19th century and was tied largely to European immigrants who became land holders. Spurred on by the Homestead Act of 1862 – which opened land in the American heartland to a variety of those who felt disenfranchised, including non-citizen immigrants – ethnic peoples from across Europe streamed onto the Great Plains. As famously depicted in the literature of Ole Edvart Rölvaag, Mari Sandoz, and Willa Cather, immigrants were an essential piece of this region’s social and economic fabric in the late 19th century. If immigrants were not beloved, they were at least tolerated during the homesteading era.
During World War I, attitudes towards immigrants and immigration in the Great Plains changed drastically when the region turned against the tens of thousands of German immigrants in the region with a chilling anti-German fervor, as vividly depicted in the fiction of Will Weaver.
In recent decades, the region’s agricultural economy came to depend on of immigrant laborers from Latin America. Polling data and voting patterns strongly suggests that many people in the Great Plains are uncomfortable with the immigrant population in their midst. This presentation traces the shifts in attitudes toward immigrants and immigration in the Great Plains as depicted in regional literature and historical data.


Michael Aaron Rockland: “Popular Culture: or Why Study ‘Trash?’”

There is an assumption in most universities, around the world, that only “the best” or “elite” culture should be studied. But there is, of course folk culture—too often ignored—and, as well, popular culture, even more ignored. My definition of a pseudo intellectual is someone who always says, “The book was better than the movie.”
But that’s a little like saying music is better than painting. Books and movies are distinctly different art forms. Books are made up of words, and movies are primarily visual. One could say, with regard to a book that it is a better book as a book than the film adapted from it is a movie. But often a movie adapted from a book is a finer work of art than the book that inspired it. Or, as is the case occasionally, vice versa.
Popular culture studies are all about what people wish to read, wish to see, and, with regard to music, wish to listen to. Intellectuals may not want their students and others to embrace what they consider contemptible, but paying attention to what people freely choose to spend their time on tells us a great deal about those people—not necessarily what some of us might like them to be but who they really are. To ignore their tastes would be like a political scientist, who personally favors one candidate, ignoring the choices of those favoring another candidate as simply ignorant and neglecting to study them.
One other point. Much of what started out as popular culture did, over time, gain “respectability” and become elite culture. Shakespeare, as one example, was the popular entertainment of his day. Jazz music was once considered simply the music of illicit sex—played only in brothels in New Orleans. Today it is considered America’s greatest contribution to music.

Mark Wyatt: “Exploring teachers’ cognitions regarding their own continuing professional development in a Macedonian context“

It is increasingly recognized by teacher educators around the world that continuing professional development (CPD) opportunities for language teachers can be more effective when they make the teachers themselves, their learners and their contexts central to the educational process. When, therefore, teachers are actively engaged as knowledge generators, critically and collaboratively (supported by context-sensitive mentoring) reflecting on and exploring their beliefs and practices, the view of many teacher educators is that this is likely to be more beneficial than if the teachers are treated simply as knowledge consumers, there simply to receive. It is uncertain, though, how language teachers in different national contexts perceive the CPD opportunities that have been provided for them. Are their reported experiences more of ‘top-down’ or ‘bottom-up’ CPD, and how do they feel about this? Are there any messages about the CPD opportunities provided for them that teachers need to send to their administrators? This talk reports on a recent study involving Macedonian English language teachers that explored this issue. Implications for practice in teacher education are discussed.

Slobodanka Dimova: “The Role of Language Assessment in the Implementation of Language Policies in Higher Education”

Language assessment is often used to enforce language policies established by governments, institutions, and different educational and cultural agencies. As instruments of such policies, language assessments impact educational systems and societies, so their uses and consequences need critical examination. Of equal importance is defining the ethical relationship between policy-making and language assessment and understanding the practical concerns regarding assessment procedures, as situated within the particular social, economic, and historical contexts. This paper addresses how educational and language policies at the University of Copenhagen have affected the university-wide uses of standardized tests (e.g., TOEFL and IELTS for international student admission) and the development and validation of local language assessment procedures (e.g., TOEPAS for oral English language certification of lecturers). Given the complexity of the local teaching and learning contexts and traditions in which these assessments are administered and used, the paper emphasizes the challenges in the endeavor to reach improved understanding of the interface between language, disciplinary content, and pedagogy.

Conference proceedings


For a selection of photos from our 2016 conference, please see here:
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Press coverage

You might like to read (ESIDRP 2016 chair) on the value of interdisciplinary research.

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