The 2017 Saute Conference

The challenge of change in English language and literature

April 28-29, 2017

Call for papers:

The 2017 SAUTE conference will take place at the University of Neuchâtel on April 28-29, 2017. Abstract submission is now closed. All participants have been notified via email. If you have not received a response, please contact sauteconference2017@gmail.com.


Registration is now closed. We look forward to seeing you at the conference.

Important dates:

Deadline for abstracts: Jan 15, 2017 (PASSED)
Date for acceptance / rejection: Jan 25, 2017 (PASSED)
Registration closed: March 15, 2017
Programme announcement: April 1, 2017 (click here)
Conference: April 28-29 2017 (book of abstracts, click here)
CUSO workshop : April 30 2017


Change is a powerful idea which inspires hope and fear, excitement and dread. From the panta rhei of Heraclitus to Darwinian evolutionary theory, nobel laureate Bob Dylan’s The times they are a-changin’, the Obama campaign slogan Change we can believe in, and the current advertising mantra ‘change is good’, it recurs as a challenge to the status quo. We have chosen change as the topic for the 2017 SAUTE conference not only for these reasons, but also because it is equally of interest in many different ways to the study of literature and linguistics.

In literature, the field has itself gone through a period of rapid change, which looks set to continue, notably with the development of digital methods of research. If this in itself calls for reflection, the question of change has long been of interest, especially for those who take the currently dominant contextual approach to literature. The focus of enquiry is then how a literary form – or the very idea of literature – responds to the various pressures of the environment – not only socio-political or economic change, but also changes in the media of production. How does this response find expression? Is change promoted or on the contrary resisted? Such questions may be asked of an individual text or of a set of texts – those that belong to a genre for instance, or an authorial canon. And, of course, there are many ways that the idea of change may itself be more or less directly thematised — as good, bad, necessary or fatal.

In linguistics, change is the notion that connects fields of study such as historical linguistics, sociolinguistics, language acquisition, and language contact. Whereas reactions to language change in the public domain tend to be coloured by cultural pessimism (Will emojis destroy the English language?), linguistic research has led to insights into how language change works, and here the social underpinnings of change play a considerable role.

Keynote speakers:



Felipe Fernandez-Armesto (USA, University of Notre Dame), a cultural historian who has written an acclaimed book on our topic, provides a historian’s perspective on cultural change, re-examining the idea of evolution, as applied to human history.



David Simpson (USA, UC Davis), a distinguished scholar in Romanticism and literary theory has worked on situatedness and commemoration as well as on terror.



Terttu Nevalainen (Finland, University of Helsinki) has carried out foundational research in corpus-based historical sociolinguistics, with a special focus on Early Modern English.



Ewan Fernie (UK, Shakespeare Institute Birmingham), an avant-garde Shakespeare scholar is working on Shakespeare and political change.































Cuso Workshop (Sunday April 30):

As a satellite event of the 2017 SAUTE conference, a CUSO doctoral workshop on the topic of change will take place on April 30.

Our four keynote speakers have agreed to participate actively in our workshop, so that we can offer a program with focused work groups. During the morning, the participants will form two work groups, each of which is led by two of our invited speakers. Each group will discuss the topic of change from an interdisciplinary angle, based on readings assigned by the keynote speakers. In the afternoon, the participating doctoral students will have the opportunity to present work in progress and get feedback from their peers and the discussion moderators.

We invite doctoral students from the CUSO network to register for the workshop by sending an email to sauteconference2017@gmail.com. Please indicate in your email whether you would like to give a 15-minute presentation of work in progress and give us a title of your presentation. We will accept a total of fifteen participants and maximally eight presentations.

Organization team:

Martin Hilpert, Margaret Tudeau-Clayton, Patrick Vincent


Participants who need hotel accommodation in Neuchâtel are advised to make their reservations early. We can recommend the following hotels:

Auberg'Inn (walking distance)
Rue Fleury 1, 2000 Neuchâtel

Hôtel de l'Ecluse (walking distance)
Rue de l'Ecluse 24, 2000 Neuchâtel

Café L'Aubier (walking distance)
Château 1, 2000 Neuchâtel

Hôtel du Vignoble (direct bus line to the conference venue, 15 minutes)
Rue du Châtelard 3, 2034 Peseux

Hôtel Ibis 3 Lacs (for participants who travel by car, 10 minutes to conference venue)
Le Verger 1, 2075 Neuchâtel-Thielle

Further hotel options can be found on this website.