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Josh Brown

Italian Studies

The University of Western Australia

I am a historical sociolinguist. My main interests lie in historical convergence between genetically and non-genetically related language varieties in non-literary writing; standardisation and the formation of national standards; koineisation; dialects and dialectology; philology; historical variation, and Romance linguistics. At UWA, I am Chair of Modern European Languages and senior lecturer in Italian Studies.

Within Italian Studies, I have specific interests in language change in the history of standard Italian and Gallo-Italian varieties; historical multilingualism in the Italian peninsula; language/dialect contact and language ideology in the Early Modern Period. Much of the material I work with makes use of unpublished and unconventional archival manuscripts to deal with questions of linguistic variation in the past. 

My first book looked at early evidence for tuscanisation in non-literary texts sent from Milan in the late fourteenth century. A second, co-authored book, provided a study of the nearly 200 extant letters held in the New Norcia Archive and written in Italian by a priest in colonial Western Australia. A third volume has recently been issued by Brepols, entitled Languages and Cross-Cultural Exchanges in Renaissance Italy (co-edited with Dr Alessandra Petrocchi, University of Oxford). I am currently preparing a fourth book, on issues of the early circulation of language and supralocalisation in Renaissance Milan for De Gruyter [contracted].

After completing my PhD (2011) in history of the Italian language, I was Cassamarca Assistant Professor in Italian at The University of Western Australia before taking up a postdoctoral fellowship at Romanska och klassiska institutionen, Stockholm University. I then moved to Australian National University for several years as Convenor of Italian Studies, before returning to Perth. At UWA I teach Italian language acquisition at all levels of the curriculum, as well as specialist courses on the history of the Italian language and the Divine Comedy, with an emphasis on digital methods. 

At UWA, I am part of the research group for Medieval and Early Modern Studies, and UWA Space Centre (Emotions in Space research node). I am a current affiliate member of ANU’s Centre for Early Modern Studies, and an associate of the ANU Centre for Digital Humanities Research, and a former affiliate of the ARC’s Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language. I am the former stream leader for historical sociolinguistics at ANU’s Centre for Research on Language Change. I am part of the editorial board for the journal La lingua italiana: storia strutture testi published by Fabrizio Serra, Rome, and incoming treasurer on the national committee for the Languages & Cultures Network for Australian Universities.

You can hear more about me and my research here, here and here.

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