Call for papers

GERAS 42nd International Conference


18-20 March 2021


Université de Lorraine, Nancy




Literary and scientific culture(s):

Continuities and Discontinuities in English for Specific Purposes


In 1959, in Britain, C.P. Snow described two "cultures" that he believed radically divided the field of knowledge – a literary culture and a scientific culture. In France, this divide remains to this day, as evidenced by Sokal & Bricmont (1997). It should be noted that at the time of Snow’s writing, classical literature was highly valued socially – to the detriment of science. Today, the opposite is true, but the divide remains. And reading Morin (1994), one can understand how the historical formation of academic disciplines in the 19th century led to such divide. This implies that both diachronic and societal aspects may be taken into account when trying to characterize the phenomenon. It is therefore around this divide between sciences and humanities that the GERAS 2021 conference, which will take place onMarch 18-20 in Nancy, wishes to examine the relationship between language skills and domain-related knowledge. Primarily addressed to English for Specific Purposes (ESP), this investigation may also be directed to other Languages for Specific Purposes (LSP).

As for ESP, the first issue arising from this divide is that of a scientific status (Saber 2019). To what extent is this matter related to the methodology being used or to the domain involved? To put it in a somewhat provocative wording, is working on ASP for science / health, for example, more scientific than working on ESP for economics? Is it more scientific to work on large computerized corpora than to analyze the content or rationale of an ESP course? Among the many issues raised by such questioning, without being exhaustive, let us mention the following: interdisciplinarity (Morin, 1994; Darbellay, 2011), teacher-researchers training, the influence of institutional frameworks, teaching and translation – both in LANSAD and Language Studies departments as well as LSP-focused jobs.

From a practical point of view, this theme also reminds one of a general feeling that was expressed very early on (Isani 1993) and which still seems to be experienced by teachers – uncertainty regarding one’s legitimacy towards learners, that Bhatia (2004: 204) describes as a form of nervousness. Another aspect of this issue that could be addressed is therefore the recurring debate between linguistic knowledge one the one hand and domain-specific knowledge on the other, or the degree to which the mastery of a given domain is necessary in order to teach its related language. What teacher-training or professional experience must teachers hold in the field being taught in order to feel at ease with their professional identities and, thereby, feel legitimate in front of theirs students – who are experts in that field? To (try to) put an end to this debate, Van der Yeught (2018) suggests a new way forward which would allow us to avoid getting stuck in this duality – that he describes as "sitting between two chairs". This conference is thus intended as an opportunity to reflect precisely on a possible "third (middle) chair" (ibid.) and to try to overcome this dichotomy.

In the LANSAD sector, the issue of student specialization and the relationship between this specialization and the different varieties of English is central. How do you bridge the gap between general language and ESP? Could a solution be to evoke "a field of discourse” or “expertise" (Whyte 2014)? Also, counting on which teachers? LANSAD departments are mostly composed of associate professors and certified teachers trained in traditional language studies; and despite the many positions available in ESP, there are still too few teacher-researchers trained in this particular area of English Studies. Finally, at a time when a heated debate over the introduction of a mandatory English certification at the bachelor's degree level is taking place, isn’t it more important than ever to think about now to assess / certify the ESP skills of our students?

In didactics, we might have to wonder about the pedagogical practices that can be set up in the classroom in order to reconcile the various issues involved when teaching ESP – as opposed to general language. We may also question the existence of a didactic approach to English for scientific and literary purposes –as well as legal, economic, academic, health-related, etc. purposes– about which teachers in each of these fields will concur. The conference will therefore allow practitioners to present their visions and conceptions of ESP teaching as well as their own teaching practices (for example, with the use of FASP, which may be an interesting meeting point between literary and scientific cultures). The conference will thus be the opportunity to share our pedagogical expertise – be it cross-disciplinary or, on the contrary, based on a specific student population with specific training course objectives.

Finally, translation specialists may enquire about the position of translation within these continuities and discontinuities between literary and scientific culture(s). Does translation contribute to building bridges (Bensimon, 1998: 3)? Between language and specialized fields? Between the Humanities and Sciences? Or do we rather see discontinuities / breaks appearing in the guise of problems of "translatability and untranslatability of cultures" (Rüdiger & Gross 2009)? The privileged position of translation and Translation Studies, often seen as being at a crossroads between disciplines (Duarte et al. 2006), invites us to think about the interdisciplinary aspect that is inherent to the activity of translating – both in general and in a professional context (Froeliger, 1999). Also, what are the specific features of specialized translation? In an environment increasingly dominated by technology, as Lavault-Olléon notes, "[m]ore than ever before, it is necessary to encourage openness to other areas of the human sciences and that places translation in a whole that takes into account all the aspects of the transfer operation [...]" (Lavault-Olléon 2007: x).



Bensimon, P. 1998. Présentation. Palimpsestes 11, 9-14.

Bhatia, V. K. 2004. Worlds of Written Discourse. Londres : Continuum.

Darbellay, F. 2011. Vers une théorie de l’interdisciplinarité? Entre unité et diversité, Nouvelles perspectives en sciences sociales : revue internationale de systémique complexe et d'études relationnelles, 7(1), 65-87.

Duarte, J. F., Rosa, A. A. & T. Seruya. 2006. Translation Studies at the Interface of Disciplines. Amsterdam / Philadelphie : John Benjamins.

Froeliger, N. 1999. Le traducteur face à l’interdisciplinarité. Revue des lettres et de traduction, Université Saint-Esprit 5, 101-112.

Isani, S. 1993. Langues de spécialité et savoir disciplinaire : contrainte institutionnelle ou outil pédagogique incitateur d’une interaction communicative ? ASp 2, 199-208.

Lavault-Olléon, E. (éd.). 2007. Traduction spécialisée : pratiques, théories, formations. Berne : Peter Lang.

Morin, E. 1994. Sur l’interdisciplinarité. Bulletin Interactif du Centre International de Recherches et Études transdisciplinaires 2 [En ligne],

Rüdiger, P. & Gross, K. 2009. Translation of Cultures. Amsterdam : Rodopi.

Saber, A., 2019. De la scientificité de l’anglais de spécialité. ASp 76, 1-8.

Snow, C. P. 1959. The Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution. Cambridge : Cambridge University Press.

Sokal, A. & J. Bricmont. 1997. Impostures intellectuelles. Paris : Odile Jacob.

Van der Yeught, M. 2016. Protocole de description des langues de spécialité. Recherche et pratiques pédagogiques en langues de spécialité. Cahiers de l’APLIUT 35(1) [En ligne], DOI :

Van der Yeught, M. 2018. Une épistémologie et une théorie des langues de spécialité au service de solutions pour le secteur LANSAD. In C. Chaplier & A.-M. O’Connell (éd.), Épistémologie à usage didactique- Langues de spécialité (secteur LANSAD). Paris : L’Harmattan, 53-95.

Whyte, S. 2014. « Contexte pour l’enseignement-apprentissage des langues : le domaine, la tâche et les technologies ». Synthèse d’habilitation à diriger des recherches non publiée, Université du Havre.


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