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CFP: The Dictionary in Print and in the Cloud

Call for proposals for possible Special Session at the Modern Language Association convention, Los Angeles, January 6-9, 2011.  Benedict Anderson's "philological-lexicographic revolution" and after. Cultural standardization and fixity in the regime of print-capitalism; implications of fluid lexicographical practice and access online.

In Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism (1983) Benedict Anderson closely identified the standardizing effects of lexicography with what he called "print-capitalism," itself linked to "the origins of national consciousness." Anderson's schematic references to "the lexicographical revolution in Europe" invite exemplification and critique. Also, in recent decades the lexicographical revolution has moved from print to cyberspace and the cloud. What do projects like, Wiktionary,, and DWDS, as well as Google's "define:" function, imply about communities constructed by "the dictionary" online today? Abstracts of proposed 15- or 20-minute presentations on either topic or both are welcome by March 15; please send them to In March I'll organize a panel for the MLA program committee to consider. The committee reports its decisions in May.

Given sufficient interest I may edit a group of such papers for publication; therefore I invite proposals also from people who will not attend the MLA convention.

Michael Hancher
Professor of English, University of Minnesota
President, Dictionary Society of North America


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