LING-380 Language and Politics
Spring for 2017-2018

This course examines the complex and multifaceted interplay between language and the political sphere. Taking a broad sociolinguistic approach that incorporates theoretical frameworks such as pragmatics, interactional sociolinguistics, ethnography, Critical Discourse Analysis, and multimodal discourse analysis, students consider the relationship between language and politics from three major perspectives. First, we investigate language use in various genres of political discourse, including speeches, debates, advertising, and print and broadcast media coverage of political events, focusing on how various linguistic features serve to shape political identities and stances. Next, we consider the discursive construction and negotiation of various policy issues (e.g., education, health, immigration), focusing on how these issues are framed by different political parties and stakeholders with divergent interests and ideologies. Finally, we take on the notion of language as a political issue itself, examining topics such as standard and official language movements, the status of language in the construction of national identity, and the role of language planning initiatives in addressing the shifting linguistic ecology of a globalizing world.

The course assumes basic familiarity with sociolinguistic principles and works toward refining students’ critical and analytical abilities in the study of language in its social context. In addition to theoretical and topical readings, lectures, and class discussions, students take part in hands-on data analysis workshops and group presentations. The course culminates in a final empirical research project, in which students pursue a topic of their choice related to the course in further depth. Findings will be presented in a formal paper and presentation.

Prerequisite: LING 001 (Introduction to Language) or prior coursework in sociolinguistics
Credits: 3
Prerequisites: LING 001 (Introduction to Language) or prior coursework in sociolinguistics
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