The Mouth

Critical Studies on Language, Culture and Society

Critical Studies on Language, Culture and Society

Mission Statement

We publish innovative work in many languages. We are convinced that thoughts can be expressed in multiple ways. This includes the ways in which languages are used for the transmission of knowledge. This journal supports the openness to forms of texts and to practices of language, which we see as essential for publishing a wide variety of thoughts, expressions and concepts. We therefore respect and appreciate the generosity of authors who choose to share their work with us and with our readers, and accept contributions in any variety of English, German or French, as well as in other languages that may not have appeared often enough in academic publications. We offer careful editorial support, if wanted by authors, but refrain from inflicting any unsolicited advice upon writers. The Mouth Journal positions itself against recent developments in academia such as increasing levels of gatekeeping, the exclusion of linguistic and stylistic variation, the pressure on writers to conform to neoliberal practices of text production, as well as the constant push for flexibilization and efficiency. Copyediting, proofreading, peer-reviewing, as useful as they may be, are often used as means to marginalize and exclude ways of knowing, of transmitting and circulating knowledge. We are sensitive to positionalities and to the ways in which stories are told in different ways, as well as to different forms theorizing in various languages and societies other than the ones in which we live. We are aware that knowledges are related to and formed by different colonial and postcolonial experiences. We therefore do not request modes of referencing that conform to established canons, nor do we think that textual coherence is achieved in only one way. Attempting to learn from others, we will continue to create a journal that allows for multiple forms of expressions and texts, which also includes podcasts and visual material that transmit knowledges in a variety of ways.

About The Mouth

The mouth is s a powerful tool and source of metaphor. Many things are done by the mouth: it spits, drinks and devours, speaks and screams, whispers, sings, eats, vomits and sucks, feels, tastes, kisses and bites. The mouth is an entrance, an exit, a vulnerable and powerful part not only of the human body but also of society itself. It is a semiotically complex part of Self and Other, which can be transformed, remade, hidden, mutilated and adorned in many ways. It stands, as a symbol as well as in very practical ways, for silence and noise, agency and subordination. It is the protective case for the tongue which forms all kinds of sounds and is the metaphor for everything that has to do with language. The ideological and cultural concepts at work in making sense of the mouth and what it does (or is supposed to do) link language, culture and society in multiple ways.

Different traditions of critical thinking about these terms and concepts have contributed to an unveiling of a persisting biogeographical bias in producing knowledge and making theory about the constructions behind these terms, and the messy and complex realities in which the practices relating to them take place. Moreover, the way we think about language concepts, their cultural constructedness and social context is in no trivial way influenced by the media and forms in which we engage with them as well as by politics and systems of education. Critically reflecting academic practices and positionalities, the (in)visibility of different epistemologies and the complicated entanglements between different arenas of the making of knowledge thereby is a central part of any productive discussion about what such terms as ‘language’, ‘culture’ and ‘society’ might stand for.

The Mouth is an open-access journal devoted to the critical study of language practices and ideologies, cultural concepts and social contexts. It is transdisciplinary and not bound to a single particular form. Contributions can be written texts of varying size and genre, images and videos, in different languages. It is edited by an interdisciplinary team, namely Anette Hoffmann, Andrea Hollington, Angelika Mietzner, Nico Nassenstein, Anne Storch and Janine Traber; all based at the Universities of Cologne and Mainz. In particular, the journal  pursues the following goals:

  • creating a platform for critical contributions that challenge disciplinary boundaries, epistemological certainties and hegemonic forms
  • presenting discussions about issues concerning ‘language’, ‘culture’ and ‘society’ that offer decolonial options, southern perspectives and boundary-crossing options
  • finding new metaphors and formats for academic contributions, unlearn disciplinary ways of doing, and unmake previously established constructions by employing for instance silliness and messy practices
  • publishing guest-edited special issues by colleagues from different disciplines that deal with all of the above mentioned research foci, as well as supplementary issues which could be monographs, exhibition catalogues, works with artistic/poetic potential or documentary movies, musical works and so on