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Call for Papers

Nineteenth-Century Lexicography Conference

Between Science and Fiction

Stanford University, 6-7 April, 2018

Organizers: Sarah Ogilvie and Gabriella Safran

We invite abstract submissions for papers on the topic of Nineteenth-century Lexicography for a conference at Stanford University 6-7 April 2018

How can we understand the making of monolingual and multilingual dictionaries in the nineteenth century? Were lexicographers in conversation with nineteenth-century philologists, seeing their work as science and as work properly to be undertaken collaboratively, by teams of careful, scientific observers? Or were they utopian thinkers, trying to create new languages, or to create writers and speakers who would use old languages in new ways? How are the prescriptive and the descriptive intertwined in their work? What evidence do dictionaries in different languages offer to answer these questions? What were lexicographers’ personal motives for their work? What role, if any, did nationalistic enterprises play in the planning and execution of these texts? What were the historical factors – in the history of technology, or the history of thought – that led to the flourishing of lexicography in the nineteenth century? And what brings this phenomenon to scholars’ attention now?

This conference aims to bring together scholars in various fields – linguistics, national literatures, and history – to do the following:

  1. To compare nineteenth-century dictionary-making in Europe, the Americas, Asia, the Pacific and beyond in order to determine possible patterns within or across languages according to:

    • political and nationalistic agendas;

    • scientific and historical methods of data collection, analysis, and description;

    • desire to standardize language, prescribe usage, or revive old forms

  2. To investigate how and to what degree lexicographers were in dialogue with Continental philologists who were forging new scientific approaches to language and linguistic description.

  3. To investigate how radical and widespread the notion of collaboration was for lexicographers of the nineteenth-century.

  4. To determine whether there is a prototypical nineteenth-century lexicographer, regardless of language or region, or whether trends in methodology and practice are language-specific, region-specific, or lexicographer-specific. What might characterize someone working on dictionaries in this century in contrast with other periods?

Please send abstracts no longer than 300 words (excluding references) to Sarah Ogilvie ( and Gabriella Safran ( by 1 September 2016.