Students will study a selection of influential Western theories of language and communication, as proposed by philosophers, linguists, semioticians and communication scholars. The emphasis will be on a critical reflection concerning the (often unstated) assumptions underlying such theories, with reference to the commonalities and differences. The thinkers under scrutiny in this course are (among other ones) Plato, Aristotle, John Locke, Ferdinand de Saussure, Leonard Bloomfield, William Labov, Dell Hymes, Harold Garfinkel, Edmund Husserl, Noam Chomsky and Roy Harris. We will also consider theories of language and communication in their historical dimension, i.e. from the point of view of ‘traditions of thought’ and ‘schools’, in particular with reference to the ‘Constitutive Metamodel’ proposed by the communication scholar Robert T. Craig. We will also take into account the philosophical orientations underpinning the various theories of language and communication discussed in this course, such as realism, naturalism, relativism and idealism.
The course has two timetabled hours per week. There will be a mix of lectures and classroom activities. If you would like to talk to the instructor, please contact him individually via email to make an appointment (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The requirements are attendance and participation (10%), weekly quizzes (10%), an end-of-term test (20%), a term-paper proposal (10%) and a term paper (50%).