LINGUIST List 14.2936

Tue Oct 28 2003

Calls: Workshop on Lang, Lit, Science/Limoges, France

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  1. Tue, 21 Oct 2003 14:55:33 +0000, Workshop on Language, Literature, Science

Message 1: Workshop on Language, Literature, Science

Date: Tue, 21 Oct 2003 14:55:33 +0000
From: Tue, 21 Oct 2003 14:55:33 +0000 < Tue, 21 Oct 2003 14:55:33 +0000"> Tue, 21 Oct 2003 14:55:33 +0000>
Subject: Workshop on Language, Literature, Science

Workshop on Language, Literature, Science
Date: 14-Jan-2004 - 16-Jan-2004
Location: Limoges, France
Contact: Pierre-Yves Raccah
Contact Email: pyrflsh.unilim.fr
Meeting URL: http://www.flsh.unilim.fr/recherche/ceres/Atelier-LLS_Fr.htm

Linguistic Sub-field: Semantics, Linguistic Theories, Ling &
Literature, General Linguistics

Call Deadline: 30-Nov-2003

Meeting Description:

Workshop on Language, Literature, Science

Main question addressed:

Under what conditions literature can be the object of an empirical
science?

The following issues characterize the research program that the main
question suggests before the workshop: it is likely and desirable that
other issues, perhaps more relevant, will emerge from the reflection;
some of the following issues might also loose their relevance.

1. Issue about the relevance of the main question
2. Issue about complexity
3. Issue about what is observable in literature
4. Issue about the relationship between science and hermeneutics
5. Issue about the relationship with aesthetics
6. Issue about the relationship between uniqueness and generality
7. Issue about predictability and the nature of scientific models
8. Issue about the relationship between text and meta-text Language,
 Literature, Science


Workshop at the University of Limoges

organised by the CeReS, University of Limoges and the department of
francophone studies of the University of P�cs (Hongrie)

Main question addressed:

Under what conditions literature can be the object of an empirical
science?

************

For functional reasons, the number of direct participants to the
workshop is limited. However, in order to facilitate the contribution
of a greater number of interested persons, there is a preparation
phase, in which the various communities which might be concerned is
consulted.

Preparation:

In order to start the reflection for this first phase consultation, we
prep= ared a list of issues.

If you wish to give your contribution to that consultation, you can
send an e-mail to one of the organizers, containing elements
addressing one of these issues. You can also formulate an issue, which
you believe is relevant to the main question of the workshop, adding a
few lines to explain why. Your contribution should not exceed one
page (you may send contributions to several points); The <<object>>
field of your e-mail should be: Contribution to the workshop Language,
Literature, Science. Your message should clearly show your complete
name and work address, in order for it to be quotable. All the
preliminary contributions received before the 15th of November 2003
will be sent to all the participants, who will be invited to take them
into account in their reflection. The fact that you give your
contribution to the preparation phase of the workshop does not commit
you to participate physically.

Venue :

The workshop will be held at the University of Limoges, in Pouthier
Hall, within the week of the 12th of January 2004. It will last three
days (more details will come later).

Proceedings

A selection of the workshop interventions and of the written
contributions will be published after the workshop (the authors will
be encouraged to take the workshop reflection into account when
toileting their text).

Organizers :

Pierre-Yves Raccah, CNRS
CeReS, Universit� de Limoges
pyrflsh.unilim.fr

Zsuzsa Simonffy, Universit� de P�cs
UFR d'�tudes francophones
ffybtk.pte.hu

 *************************************************

Issues

The following issues characterize the research program that the main
question suggests before the workshop: it is likely -and desirable-
that other issues, perhaps more relevant, will emerge from the
reflection; some of the following issues might also loose their
relevance.

1. Issue about the relevance of the main question

The very fact of raising the issue about the scientificity and
empiricity of literary studies may seem suspicious or unwelcome to
many: the reasons of this mistrust are the first issue of this
matter. Reflections on the scientificity and empiricity conditions
have played an important role in the progresses of number of empirical
disciplines, when they were developed by practitioners of those
disciplines: are there reasons to think that the situation is
different with respect to literary studies? Must we think that
literary studies already constitute a science and that it is unseemly
to reflect on its foundations? Should we believe, on the contrary,
that it is essentially impossible to think of literary studies as a
science (not even as a possible future science): if so, for what
reasons? Or should we consider that reflections of that kind ought to
be left to professional philosophers exclusively: if so, why?

2. Issue about complexity

Though a literary text is a whole made of a succession of utterances,
the level of complexity of that whole is too high to allow the
reduction of its description to that of its parts. Could a Science of
Literature be built out of already existing sciences? Can a science of
languages be used as a basis for the development of a science of
literature?

3. Issue about what is observable in literature

An empirical science supposes observable entities, which constitute
simple and compounded phenomena, and are accessible to any
observer. However, though it is clear that the text of a literary
object is an empirical phenomena in that sense, what about the effects
it produces? In what concerns the interpretation of literary texts, is
it possible to isolate units (simple or compounded), which are
accessible to any observer? Since we recognize that literary
productions have a degree of complexity superior to that of the
utterances that constitute them, shouldn't we feel the necessity of
characterizing these more complex observable entities, which belong to
literature?

4. Issue about the relationship between science and hermeneutics

The study of literary texts partially pertains to hermeneutics, since
it relies on the analysis of interpretation. Is that incompatible with
the requirements of scientificity or of empiricity? Is it necessary
(useful, possible...) to define a notion of scientificity and/or one
of empiricity which would be specific to that typo of object of study?

5. Issue about the relationship with aesthetics

The judgement by which one qualifies a sequence of utterances as
"literature" is an aesthetic judgement. The possible scientific models
provided by a 'science of literature' would therefore also be models
of 'non-literature'unless we are ready to admit the extremely unlikely
hypothesis according to which a science could justify aesthetic
judgements... Would the use of models which, indiscriminatingly,
accounted for literary and non literary facts hamper the progresses of
literary studies? Could they, on the contrary, benefit from such an
extension of the domain, which would then allow to account for the
fluctuations in the aesthetic qualification?

6. Issue about the relationship between uniqueness and generality

A scientific model is, by necessity, general, in that it is supposed
to apply to a multiplicity of objects and situations. On the other
hand, what constitutes the 'literarity' of literary texts is
essentially linked to their singularity: isn't there a contradiction
between the characteristic features of the objects to be described and
the aim of describing them using scientific models? But, on the other
hand, if no generalization can be hoped or even tolerated, what would
be the interest of literary study? How could it be possible to
discriminate between real studies and hoaxes?

7. Issue about predictability and the nature of scientific models

If the study of literary texts comes within the competence of an
empiric science, it should provide descriptive models which allow to
formulate predictive falsifiable hypotheses: what would the nature of
these models be? What could these predictions consist of? What would
the falsifiability criteria be? How could different models be
evaluated or compared?

8. Issue about the relationship between text and meta-text

The main qualities of a scientific text -but not of literary texts-
are clarity and univocality: is it possible for a text which speaks of
an unclear or multi-vocal text to describe it adequately while keeping
those qualities which are required for a scientific text? If yes,
under which conditions?
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