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 Andrea Hollington, Angelika Mietzner, Nico Nassenstein, Anne Storch and Janine Traber, with Christiane Bongartz as advising editor; all based at the University of Cologne. 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