Prof. Robert De Keyser, School of Languages, Literature, and Cultures
In our globalized world, understanding other cultures is increasingly important. This course will contribute to that goal by familiarizing students with the ethnic, linguistic, geographic, and historical complexity of Europe from a somewhat oblique angle: by dealing with the languages of Europe in their structural and social dimensions, and providing ample exposure to the historical background as well as frequent hands-on experience with maps, reference works, and electronic resources. Some of the most important concepts of this course are the blurred boundaries between language and dialect, the role of social factors in language change, the role of economy and politics in the sociology of language, and conversely, the role of language and ethnicity in political history. An equally important goal, however, will be to provide constant exposure to maps and historical information, not only to instill knowledge on this point but, more importantly, to develop a habit of consulting available resources of all kinds.