Pragmatics and Literature, a new collection of essays co-edited with Billy Clark, was published by Benjamins in their Linguistic Approaches to Literature series in December 2019. Here is the description from the back cover:
Pragmatics and Literature is an important collection of new work by leading practitioners working at the interface between pragmatic theory and literary analysis. The individual studies collected here draw on a variety of theoretical approaches and are concerned with a range of literary genres. All have a shared focus on applying ideas from specific pragmatic frameworks to understanding the production, interpretation and evaluation of literary texts. A full-length introductory chapter highlights distinctions and contrasts between pragmatic theories, but also brings out complementarities, shared aims and assumptions, and ways in which different pragmatic theories can make different contributions to our understanding of literary texts. The book as a whole encourages a sense of coherence for the field and presents insights from various approaches for systematic comparison. Building on previous work by the editors, the contributors and others, it makes a significant contribution to the growing field of pragmatic literary stylistics.
Billy Clark and I will be organising a special interest group workshop at the international conference of the Poetics and Linguistics Association in Birmingham in July 2018. The workshop title is ‘Pragmatics and Literature’, and the deadline for the submission of papers is 31st January 2018. The conference website and call for papers can be found here.
My article ‘The experimental and the empirical: Arne Naess’s statistical approach to philosophy’ is now published online by the British Journal for the History of Philosophy.
It will be included in a special issue of the journal on Experimental Philosophy and the History of Philosophy. My article considers both the similarities and the differences between Naess’s Empirical Semantics from the mid twentieth century, and experimental philosophy of the present day, and reflects on what these might tell us about attitudes to philosophical methodology.
There is a link to my article here, with free access to the full text for the first fifty clicks.
My article in the current edition of Babel, The Language Magazine on Susan Stebbing and her relevance to the current social and political climate is now available in full on the blog of the Citizens of Everywhere project, which is led by the Centre for New and International Writing at the University of Liverpool. The article can be found here.
Over the weekend I was in Durham for a workshop of the (In Parenthesis) project. We had some fascinating discussions about the work of the Oxford philosophers Mary Midgley, Elizabeth Anscombe, Philippa Foot and Iris Murdoch, and about the contribution of women more generally to mid twentieth century philosophy.
The latest issue of Babel, The Language Magazine is out now, and contains some great articles and features.
I have contributed to the regular ‘Lives in Language’ slot, writing about L. Susan Stebbing. I am struck yet again by the insight and indeed the prescience of her later work on critical thinking. In 1939 Stebbing published Thinking to Some Purpose, motivated by what she described as the ‘urgent need for a democratic people to think clearly without the distortions due to unconscious bias and unrecognised ignorance’, a need which seems just as pressing now as it did eighty years ago.
I am on research leave from the University of Liverpool for the academic year 2016-17, having completed three years as Head of the Department of English. I am looking forward to developing my work on the Irish novelist George Moore (1852-1933), whose stylistically experimental and influential writing has interested me for many years. In a new book project on ‘George Moore’s Acts of Re-writing’ I am planning to apply pragmatic theory in the neo-Gricean tradition to the study of some of the ways in which Moore revised and republished a number of his major works, years or even decades after they were initially published. The major questions I hope to explore in this project are: firstly, how Moore’s specific acts of rewriting shaped and determined his creative output; secondly, how analytical paradigms developed in the discipline of linguistic pragmatics can be used to explain those processes; and thirdly what we can learn from this about the mechanisms and the significance of literary re-writing more generally.