This course offers an overview of the major currents in linguistic theory with a focus on communication theory, i.e. how the fact of (human) communication is explained, what its prerequisites are, and how they align with everyday personal experience. Students will be introduced to some of the key thinkers (in linguistics and philosophy) who have theorized communication, and will be asked to engage and interact with each one of them by drawing on their critical reflection and lay experience.
This course introduces students to communication theories and models from various historical periods (e.g. Ancient Greece, Early Modern age, nineteenth and twentieth centuries). It will consider the ideas of such theorists as Aristotle, Plato, Locke, Saussure, Grice (among others) and subject them to critical scrutiny. Emphasis will also be placed on discussing alternative theories of language and communication which attempt to take into account the individual’s lay experience, and therefore also the importance of communication in our lives. The overarching question of this course, in fact, will be: ‘What is communication, and why does it matter to know?’.
At the end of this course, students will
- Be able to critically engage with the contents and (future) applicability of the course
- Be able to engage critically with communication and language theory
- Have developed an understanding of how to put historical discourses into their proper place and context
- Have learnt to rely on their own communicational experience in assessing communication theories
- Have acquired an understanding of the differences between ‘integrationist’ and ‘segregationist’ theories
1) A 500-word reflection on the course (20%)
2) A short essay (length: 1000 words). (40%).
3) In-class quiz (30%).
4) Attendance of tutorials and individual participation (10%)
Harris, Roy. 1996. Signs, Language and Communication. London: Routledge.