Language and Linguistics Seminar Series: Week 23 with Dr. Elizabeth Miller, UNC Charlotte

Exploring the Development of Research on Agency and Language Learning and Considering its “Dangerous” Potential

  • Thu 9 May 19

    12:00 - 14:00

  • Colchester Campus


  • Event speaker

    Dr Elizabeth Miller University of North Carolina at Charlotte

  • Event type

    Lectures, talks and seminars
    Language and Linguistics Seminar Series

  • Event organiser

    Language and Linguistics, Department of

  • Contact details

    Victoria Mead

In week 32, Elizabeth Miller University of North Carolina at Charlotte, joins us to talk about their recent research.

12-1pm Dr Elizabeth Miller will take to the stage to deliver their talk, followed by a lunch provided by Language and Linguistics from 1pm-2pm.

We look forward to seeing you there: this event is open to all students and staff! 


This presentation will be structured around three central questions: Why did agency come to be regarded as a fundamental construct in language learning (and, more recently, language teaching) research only in the 2000s and 2010s? Is it even possible to research and analyze such a “hypothetical construct” (Mercer 2012)? How might it come to be a “dangerous” (cf. Foucault, 1997) focus of research for applied linguists? To that end, it will briefly examine the shifts or expansions in theory and methodology and the increasing transdisciplinarity in applied linguistics research in the mid-1990s and early 2000s that helped to mobilize research on language learner agency. It will then introduce narrative accounts of language learning from the author’s research with adult immigrant small business owners in the U.S. who learned English informally, primarily in non-classroom contexts. And, finally, it will explore the interrelationship of agency and responsibility in light of research on neoliberal responsibilization, ending on a cautionary note regarding the “moral commitments” (Davies, 1991) that constitute our understanding of agency in language learning and pointing to the "dangerous" potential of agency research.
Elizabeth R. Miller (Ph.D. University of Wisconsin-Madison) is an Associate Professor in the Department of English at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in the U.S. Her research has focused on concepts such as identity, agency, ideology, and power relations in relation to language learning among adult immigrants in the U.S. More recently, she has focused on the relationship of agency and emotions in language teacher practice. Her work can be found in numerous journals and edited books. She has published a monograph (2014) and two co-edited collections (2015, 2019) with Multilingual Matters as well as a Special Issue in System (2018) that focus on the role of agency in language learning or language teaching. 





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