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Elective: The Linguistic Lens: How Language Influences our Perception of the World

Vak
2017-2018

Admission requirements

This course is only available for second year students in the BA International Studies.
The number of participants is limited to 25.

Description

It is the 2nd of February 2004, the day after the Superbowl, and you pick up an American paper. “Justin Timberlake tears off part of Janet Jackson’s bodice!”, says the headline. Does reading this kind of coverage of the event lead you to believe that Justin Timberlake is responsible for the famous ‘wardrobe malfunction’ that occurred during the controversial half time act of this sporting event? Does it make you think he should receive a hefty fine? According to linguistic research (Fausey & Boroditsky, 2010), the answer to these questions is yes. You are more inclined to consider Justin Timberlake to be the perpetrator if you read a description of the event that uses agentive language (identifying Justin Timberlake as the agent, as in the example above) than when non-agentive language is used (“Part of Janet Jackson’s bodice was torn off!”), even if you have already thought about your position on the issue before you read the description.

In this course, we will take a closer look at phenomena like this in order to better understand how language influences people’s perception of the world. In the first section of the course, we will look at the interrelationships between language and thought in a general sense: how does the acquisition of language influence development? Do people who do not share the same mother tongue differ in their perception of the world? And how does the acquisition of more than one language influence thought? The second section of the course will look at how language might be used to engender changes in thought and behaviour. In this light, we will look closer at phenomena such as linguistic framing effects, politically correct language, euphemisms and propaganda. This section will also look at how narratives can be used to change people’s beliefs. Finally, in the third section of this course, students will conduct their own small-scale research on the relationship between language and thought.

Additionally, the students will work through:

  • W.C. Booth, G.G. Colomb, J.W. Williams, The Craft of Research, third edition, Chicago/London: University of Chicago Press, 2008.

Course objectives

The elective courses for International Studies are designed to teach students how to deal with state-of-the-art literature and research questions. They are chosen to enhance the students’ learning experience by building on the interdisciplinary perspectives they have developed so far, and to introduce them to the art of academic research. They are characterised by an international or comparative approach.

Academic skills that are trained include:

Oral presentation skills:

1. to explain clear and substantiated research results;
2. to provide an answer to questions concerning (a subject) in the field covered by the course a. in the form of a clear and well-structured oral presentation; b. in agreement with the appropriate disciplinary criteria; c. using up-to-date presentation techniques; d. aimed at a specific audience;
3. to actively participate in a discussion following the presentation.

Collaboration skills:

1. to be socio-communicative in collaborative situations;
2. to provide and receive constructive criticism, and incorporate justified criticism by revising one’s own position;
3. adhere to agreed schedules and priorities.

Basic research skills, including heuristic skills:

1. to collect and select academic literature using traditional and digital methods and techniques;
2. to analyze and assess this literature with regard to quality and reliability;
3. to formulate on this basis a sound research question;
4. to design under supervision a research plan of limited scope, and implement it using the methods and techniques that are appropriate within the discipline involved;
5. to formulate a substantiated conclusion.

Written presentation skills:

1. to explain clear and substantiated research results;
2. to provide an answer to questions concerning (a subject) in the field covered by the course a. in the form of a clear and well-structured oral presentation; b. in agreement with the appropriate disciplinary criteria; c. using relevant illustration or multimedia techniques; d. aimed at a specific audience.

Timetable

The timetable is available on the BA International Studies website.

Mode of instruction

Seminars are held every week, with the exception of the midterm exam week. This course includes supervised research.

Course Load

Total course load for this course is 10 EC (1 EC = 28 hours), this equals 280 hours, broken down by:

  • Attending lectures: 2 hours per week x 12 weeks = 24 hours

  • Rest to be announced.

Assessment method

Assessment & Weighing

Partial grade Weighing
To be announced 50%
Final research paper (5000 words) 50%

End grade

To successfully complete the course, please take note that the end grade of the course is established by determining the weighted average.

Resit

Students who have been active participants in class and submitted the final paper on time, but scored an overall insufficient mark, are entitled to a resit. For the resit, students are given a chance to hand in a new version of the final paper.
In case of resubmission of the final essay (insufficient grade only) the final grade for the essay will be lowered as a consequence of the longer process of completion. The deadline for resubmission is 10 working days after receiving the grade for the final essay.

Retaking a passing grade

Please consult the Course and Examination Regulations 2017 – 2018.

Exam review

How and when an exam review takes place will be determined by the examiner. This review will be within 30 days after official publication of exam results.

Blackboard

Blackboard will be used for tutorial groups. Students are requested to enroll on Blackboard for this course, but only after correct enrolment in uSis.

Reading list

  • To be announced.

  • W.C. Booth, G.G. Colomb, J.W. Williams, The Craft of Research, third edition, Chicago/London: University of Chicago Press, 2008.

Registration

Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.

General information about uSis can be found here.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.

Contact

Dr. H.N.M. De Mulder

When contacting the lecturer, please include your full name, student number and tutorial group number.

Remarks

The deadline for submission of the final essay is 15 June 2018.
Passing this course is an entry requirement for the thesis and thesis seminar.