29.2885, Calls: Anthropological Linguistics, Pragmatics, Sociolinguistics/China

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LINGUIST List: Vol-29-2885. Thu Jul 12 2018. ISSN: 1069 - 4875.

Subject: 29.2885, Calls: Anthropological Linguistics, Pragmatics, Sociolinguistics/China

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Date: Thu, 12 Jul 2018 16:01:09
From: Sofia Rüdiger [sofia.ruediger at uni-bayreuth.de]
Subject: Formality and Informality in Online Performances

Full Title: Formality and Informality in Online Performances 

Date: 09-Jun-2019 - 14-Jun-2019
Location: Hong Kong, China 
Contact Person: Sofia Rüdiger
Meeting Email: sofia.ruediger at uni-bayreuth.de

Linguistic Field(s): Anthropological Linguistics; Pragmatics; Sociolinguistics 

Call Deadline: 15-Oct-2018 

Meeting Description:

Panel Convenors: Susanne Mühleisen & Sofia Rüdiger (University of Bayreuth)

In his seminal work on life as a stage, Goffman uses the concept of
performance ''to refer to all the activity of an individual which occurs
during a period marked by his [or her] continuous presence before a particular
set of observers and which has some influence on the observers'' (1959: 22).
Performance as a ''mode of speaking'' (Bauman 1975: 290) has a long tradition
in ethnographic linguistic work and is characterized by a number of rules by
which performance is signaled, among them also ''disclaimer of performance''
(Bauman 1975: 295). We argue that the performance framework can be
productively applied to many of today's contexts on the world wide web, where
users 'perform' specific personae online. One just needs to think, for
example, about Facebook or Twitter, where the user profile created and the
content posted represent a careful curation and management of one's
presentation of self: in Goffman's terms the 'front stage' of the performance
(Goffman 1959).
An essential role in performances on ''society's newest stage'' (Shulman 2017:
215), the internet, seems to be the blurring of the front and back stage or,
more specifically, by pretending to show the back stage while the audience
still observes a carefully arranged event. This collapse of front and back
stage (Shulman 2017: 219) is often connected to the conscious use of and play
with formality and informality. While notoriously difficult to define,
informality is reflected in the breaking of the systematic organization of a
speech event (Irvine 1979), which of course makes informality heavily
context-dependent. From a language in use point of view, notions of formality
and informality have so far been neglected in analyzing and explaining
performances online and it is still unclear what it means to be 'informal
online'. This panel seeks to redress this situation by placing emphasis on the
performative nature of online interactions.


Bauman, Richard. 1975. ''Verbal Art as Performance.'' American Anthropologist
77: 290-311.
Goffman, Erving. 1959. The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. New York:
Anchor Books, Doubleday.
Irvine, Judith T. 1979. ''Formality and Informality in Communicative Events.''
American Anthropologist 81: 773-790.
Shulman, David. 2017. The Presentation of Self in Contemporary Social Life.
Los Angeles: Sage.

Call for Papers:

We would like to invite contributions which address formality and informality
in a wide variety of online contexts. This includes, but is not limited to,
YouTube shows, MOOCs, online dating websites and apps, Facebook, Instagram,
etc. We particularly welcome empirical studies of verbal and multimodal
aspects and their role in performing an online persona. Ideally, contributions
address markers of online performances and what role formality and informality
play in the very production of this performance. The aim of this panel is to
open up the discussion of conceptualizing online behavior within a performance
framework and relate this to linguistic notions of formality and informality.

Abstracts of 250 - 500 words (including references) can be submitted via the
IPrA conference website https://ipra2019.exordo.com/. Additional information
regarding the abstract submission process can be found at


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