Language ideologies were an important component of modern nationalism and figured prominently in the cultural and political discourses of modernity and modernization in and around what came to be known as “the Middle East” in the 19th and early 20th centuries. We invite submissions for a two day workshop, to be held at the University of Chicago on April 14-15, 2023, which seeks to bring together scholars across humanistic and social scientific disciplines (such as History, Literary theory, Linguistic and Anthropology) to explore the articulation, circulation, and mobilization of ideas about language death and revival, language reform, and language modernization in the contexts of empire, emerging nationalisms, and a modernized / quickly modernizing world. 

Some of the topics we hope to see addressed include: 

  • What does / did it mean for a language to be or become a modern language within the relevant discourses? 
  • How does multilingualism and translation figure within projects of language modernization in the relevant geopolitical contexts? 
  • How, if at all, did developments in linguistics, philology, and adjacent disciplines inform and shape ideas about “modern language” and related ideas such as “modern / national literature”? 
  • How do notions of native tongue, language family, vernacular dialect or register interact with concepts such as empire, nation, motherland?
  • How does the relation between language and the body figure in projects of (re)generation of modern polities and individuals? 

1-page abstracts for a 30-minute presentation should be sent to

Submission deadline: December 15th, 2022

Notification of acceptance: January 2023

More information can be found at: