Language, Identity and Nation

Module code: R9028
Level 5
15 credits in autumn semester
Teaching method: Lecture, Seminar
Assessment modes: Coursework

Following a short introduction, the module falls into two parts. The first looks at how we discover the links between Language, Thought and Nation, and try to identify and analyse covert as well as overt associations between these. Who are the guardians and gatekeepers of our 'native' languages, and what are the pressures to have English in England, French in France but Castillian in Spain and Post-Florentine in Italy? Are some languages more equal than others, conferring more status to their users? And why do languages still change despite 'Academies'? The second part looks at instances of how expressions of the relationship between a nation and its language emerge as various literary and other genres (with particular reference to the novel), and how these feed back into the collective identity (with particular reference to representations in the cinema of various countries).

Module learning outcomes

  • Demonstrate an ability to critically analyse the role of language in society over time, with reference to some established methods of linguistic research.
  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of certain theories about the relationship between thought and language in various European speech communities.
  • Critically understand and evaluate the relevance of theories of nationalism and the role language plays in nationalist discourse and the creation of national identity in different historical, cultural and political contexts.
  • Acquire new interdisciplinary competencies, to enable comparative critical analysis of the ways in which language, identity and nationalism interact in different contexts, and apply the knowledge gained more widely into the student’s own area of specialism.