The Anechoic Chamber: Construction and Reception of Silence in Language, Literature, and History
Date: 1 – 2 October 2020
Convenors: Mahshid Mayar (Bielefeld, GER), Marion Schulte (Bielefeld, GER)
While for centuries, it was perceived in Western thought as ritualistic, neutral, or incidental, silence drew unprecedented critical attention in the second half of the 20th century. Consequently, scholars today do not engage with silence as a passive gap between two utterances, an inadvertent component of miscommunication, or an experiential precondition to meditation and prayer. Rather, silence is viewed today as a currency of power, as a historical shift in subject positions, as an essential feature in the organization of discourse and in managing interpersonal relations in conversation. However, as the organizers of this workshop contend, disciplinary research on silence and silencing seems to be conducted divergently and in isolation. Believing that silence can be made sense of only through conversation, this workshop is organized in the hope that silence and silencing will be viewed through the multiple, complimentary lenses of cultural history, (socio)linguistics, and literary criticism and examined in interdisciplinary dialogue between scholars working primarily within a quantitative paradigm and those working more qualitatively. The focus of the workshop will be on conceptual and methodological similarities and differences between the disciplines. Through this dialogue, we intend to (a) contribute to the study of silence and to establish a directory of the many ways in which silence matters and (b) promote inter- and transdisciplinary work that asks new questions and finds new answers regarding the forms and functions of silence and silencing in communication by going beyond the traditional preoccupations and limitations of individual disciplines.