In Other Tongues – conference and short course

In Other Tongues: creating metaphysics, embodying language

a conference and creative summit. June 7-9 2017
residential short course June 10-14 2017

Dartington Hall, Devon UK

For millennia we have called on rational thinking to puzzle, to explain, to solve –– to help us live our lives clearly and logically; where that falters we call on other understandings – myth, ritual and gods – to guide us.

For the past two hundred years or so we have become a little giddy with our power over knowledge as our understanding of the material world has grown with little let or hindrance –– with other older knowledges often dismissed in the process as mere superstition. With all we have learned have we in our confidence perhaps forgotten that knowledge is a fleeting thing, held only through the permissions and presuppositions of the dominant culture.

There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream, 

The earth, and every common sight, 

To me did seem 

Apparelled in celestial light, 

The glory and the freshness of a dream. 

It is not now as it hath been of yore;— 

Turn wheresoe’er I may, 

By night or day. 

The things which I have seen I now can see no more.

— Wordsworth (1804)

In Other Tongues brings together an eclectic collection of voices, an event that mixes the best of academic thought and tradition with the experiential and the experimental. Keynote speakers are Prof. Wendy Wheeler who will introduce the emergent field of biosemiotics, and poet Alyson Hallett who explores the relationship between the human body and stone. Sound artist Tony Whitehead leads us into the sonic world of night-time and dawn-time; Felix Prater, Laura Cooper and Cherie Sampson introduce us to animal lives and our animal selves; Lori Diggle, Nancy Miller and Melissa Sterry amongst others remind us of the power of myth and story-telling and its continuing relevance; John Hartley takes us on to the river; Stephan Harding talks about the science of interspecies communication. Others are materialists, guiding us to new insights of stone, field, water, fungi. We will encounter languages familiar and strange, and we’ll aspire to co-elaborate new forms of communication together through this unique gathering amongst the long, heady days of summer along the River Dart.

In addition to this rich array of speakers are an equally rich selection of hands-on small-group workshops. There are three sessions of workshops (12 in all) over the course of the three days, meaning that you can choose to participate in up to three workshops.

To learn more and to register visit

To us the land was alive.  It talked to us.  We called her our mother.  If she was angry with us, she would give us no food.  If we didn’t share with others, she might send harsh winters or plagues of insects.  We had to do good things for her and live the way she thought was right.  She was the mother to everything that lived upon her, so everything was our brother and sister.  The bears, the trees, the plants, the buffalo.  They were all our brothers and sisters.  If we didn’t treat them right, our mother would be angry.  If we treated them with respect and honor, she would be proud. (quoted in Nerburn 2002)

The residential short course, also titled ‘In Other Tongues’ is led by Alyson Hallett and writer-illustrator Mat Osmond, with guests to include Alice Oswald and’s Richard Povall. Taking the idea of geographical intimacy as its starting point, this five-day residential course offers a special opportunity to explore how we relate to the poetics of place. It’s a chance to engage in practical, playful and serious enquiry into our experience of landscape and all things that inhabit it – from those that can be seen and heard, to those living in more in-between or imagined spaces.  We will work both indoors and outdoors as we deepen and attune more to ourselves and our experiences of place.

In Other Tongues takes place at Dartington Hall, Devon, England from June 7 to 9 2017 immediately followed by a residential short course from June 10-14.




Berman, Morris. The Reenchantment of the World. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1981.

Nerburn, Kent. Neither wolf nor dog: on forgotten roads with an Indian elder. Novato, CA: New World Library, 2002
Wordsworth, William. Ode: Intimations of Immortality (from Recollections of Early Childhood 1804)

June 7, 2017 - June 14, 2017

Dartington Hall
Dartington Hall