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 include Plato, Aristotle, John Locke, Ferdinand de Saussure, Leonard Bloomfield, Edward Sapir, William Labov, Dell Hymes, John Gumperz, Erving Goffman, Noam Chomsky, Thomas Sebeok, 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, materialism, relativism and idealism. Lastly, we will consider more recent theoretical approaches to language, such as Southern linguistics and posthumanist linguistics.
Students will study a selection of influential Western theories of language and communication, as proposed by semioticians, linguists, sociologists and communication scholars. The emphasis will be on a critical reflection of what (often unstated) assumptions underlie these theories (i.e. their philosophies of language), and how the theories came into being at all. At the end of this course students will be able to assess the history of linguistic thought from a variety of vantage points.
The primary requirements for this course are two short quizzes covering the contents of the lectures (each counting 15%) and an individual research paper (70%).