ItemBad Boys meet the Swan of Avon: A re-visioning of Hamlet in "Sons of Anarchy"(2017-12) Burzyńska, KatarzynaThis article investigates the intersections between Shakespeare’s Hamlet and a popular TV series Sons of Anarchy (SOA), loosely based on the Shakespearean original. The crime drama series revolves around an outlaw motorcycle club that literally “rules” a fictional town in California like an old royal family with its own brutal dynastic power squabbles and dark family secrets. The club is governed by an unscrupulous President Clay and an equally violent, though more conflicted, Vice President Jax Teller, the son of the late President, who had died in mysterious circumstances. In the article I argue that the popularity of the series lies not in its graphic scenes of violence, over-the-top Harley chases, and sex intrigues, but rather in its Shakespearean and Renaissance structure. SOA, dubbed as “Hamlet on Harleys”1, is an appropriation rather than an adaptation of Shakespeare’s tragedy, which makes it a truly transmedial phenomenon. The article investigates a fascinating blend of seemingly marginal elements of modern American culture and the canonical British tragedy. It also addresses the connections between the lifestyles of the so called outlaw MC clubs and the early modern family structure as presented in Hamlet, focusing on the issues of power and gender relations. Item“Dig, what makes your mouth so big?”: Off-modern nostalgia, symbolic cannibalism, and crossing the border of the universal language in Clarence Major’s “The Slave Trade: View from the Middle Passage”(2017-12) Kamionowski, JerzyAfrican American literature on the Middle Passage has always challenged white supremacy’s language with its power to define and control. This article demonstrates how the border of such a “Universal Language” is challenged and trespassed in Clarence Major’s ekphrastic poem “The Slave Trade: View from the Middle Passage” in order to communicate – through the implementation of the voice of a disembodied water spirit Mfu – the black perspective on understanding the slave trade and effectively resist the symbolic cannibalism of Western Culture. The trope of antropophagy often appears in Middle Passage poems in the context of (mis)communication (which results in the production of controlling, racist images of blacks) and stands as a sign of Euro-American power to create the historical, hierarchical, racial reality of the Atlantic slave trade in its economic and symbolic dimensions. The strategy implemented by Major in his poetic confrontation with representation of historical slave trade in European and American Fine arts may be classified as “off-modern” (to use Svetlana Boym’s (2001) nomenclature), which immediately places his poem in a “tradition of critical reflection on the modern condition that incorporates nostalgia” as a means of a critical analysis of the heritage and limitations of a given culture. My claim is that the poem’s “off-modern nostalgia” perspective is a version of textualist strategy which Henry Louis Gates (1988) identifies as Signifyin(g). Major/Mfu successfully perforates and destabilizes the assumed objectivity and neutrality of the images of blacks and blackness created and circulated within the realm of the visual arts of the dominant Western Culture. In “The Slave Trade: View from the Middle Passage” Signifyin(g) takes the form of what could be called an ekphrastic (re)interpretation of actual works of art and joins in the critique of essentialist views often associated with understanding of meaning. ItemThe loss of grammatical gender and case features between Old and Early Middle English: Its impact on simple demonstratives and topic shift(2017-12) Jurczyk, RafałIn this paper we examine the relation between the loss of formal gender and Case features on simple demonstratives and the topic shifting property they manifest. The examination period spans between Old English and Early Middle English. While we argue that this loss has important discourse-pragmatic and derivational effects on demonstratives, we also employ the Strong Minimalist Hypothesis approach (Chomsky 2001) and feature valuation, as defined in Pesetsky & Torrego (2007), to display how their syntactic computation and pragmatic properties have come about. To account for the above innovations yielding the Early Middle English ϸe (‘the’), we first discuss the formal properties of the Old English demonstratives which distinguish number, gender, and Case features. This inflectional variety of forms allows the Old English demonstratives to be used independently and to show the anaphoric and discourse-linking properties of topics. Crucially, the same properties characterise also German and Dutch demonstratives that manifest Case and/or gender morphology overtly, which shows that the syntactic distribution of LIs and their morphological richness should be considered as intertwined. The above properties are then confronted with the determiner system in Early Middle English, whose forms undergo inflectional levelling producing the invariant ϸe/ðe form that loses its distributional independence and acquires the article status. The levelling process in question is argued to stimulate the shift of the [+ref/spec] feature from the formal to the semantic pole. This suggests that the Early Middle English ϸe form no longer counts as an appropriate anaphor in topic shift contexts owing to its indeterminacy of Case, gender, and φ-features, which means that it cannot satisfy the Full Interpretation requirement at the interfaces. ItemRegional variation in Jespersen's Cycle in Early Middle English(2017-12) Walkden, George; Morrison, Donald AlasdairIn this paper we investigate the place of origin of the change from Jespersen’s Cycle stage II – bipartite ne + not – to stage III, not alone. We use the LAEME corpus to investigate the dialectal distribution in more detail, finding that the change must have begun in Northern and Eastern England. A strong effect of region and time period can be clearly observed, with certain linguistic factors also playing a role. We attribute the early onset of the change to contact with Scandinavian: North Germanic is known to have undergone Jespersen’s Cycle earlier in its history, and the geographical distribution of early English stage III fits neatly with the earlier boundaries of the Danelaw. ItemDifferences across levels in the language of agency and ability in rating scales for large second-language writing assessments(2017-12) Sampson Anderson, SalenaWhile large-scale language and writing assessments benefit from a wealth of literature on the reliability and validity of specific tests and rating procedures, there is comparatively less literature that explores the specific language of second language writing rubrics. This paper provides an analysis of the language of performance descriptors for the public versions of the TOEFL and IELTS writing assessment rubrics, with a focus on linguistic agency encoded by agentive verbs and language of ability encoded by modal verbs can and cannot. While the IELTS rubrics feature more agentive verbs than the TOEFL rubrics, both pairs of rubrics feature uneven syntax across the band or score descriptors with either more agentive verbs for the highest scores, more nominalization for the lowest scores, or language of ability exclusively in the lowest scores. These patterns mirror similar patterns in the language of college-level classroom-based writing rubrics, but they differ from patterns seen in performance descriptors for some large-scale admissions tests. It is argued that the lack of syntactic congruity across performance descriptors in the IELTS and TOEFL rubrics may reflect a bias in how actual student performances at different levels are characterized.