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Card-index course

The Politics of Language

Responsible Faculty: Faculty of Arts

Teacher(s): Anita Auer

Validity: 2020 -> 2020

Course Timetable (Weekly)

Date Location Notice Topics Lecturer(s)
2020/2021 : Tuesday 10:15-12:00 (Weekly) Anthropole/3032     Anita Auer


Spring semester
2 hours per week
28 hours per semester
Teaching language(s): English
Public: Yes
Credits: 5.00


Upon completion of the course students should
- have acquired insights into how language power relations have developed over time based on evidence taken from historical records and be able to apply this knowledge independently;
- be able understand key concepts in the research field of the politics of language, particularly with respect to different theoretical and methodological approaches;
- be able to compile/collect datasets and use them appropriately in order to shed light on issues related to the politics of language;
- be able to present their research results both orally and in written form (at the appropriate academic level).


This course explores the politics of language from a historical perspective, particularly the way in which language has shaped, and has been shaped by forms of socio-political power. The course will span in focus from the Middle Ages to post-colonial times and explore developments across the British Isles, North America, and other former British colonies.
We will consider historical attitudes towards dialectal differences, the interplay between authority and processes of standardisation, and the manner in which linguistic differences between people (also linked to social class, gender, ethnicity and migration) have been dealt with in the political arena and by institutions. The interplay between language and politics will be explored through a number of case studies such as Ireland, Wales, Scotland, North America, etc., notably based on historical documents, ego-documents, literary works and TV series. In addition to exploring different sociolinguistic histories, we will analyse the relevant political discourses and ideologies by applying the methods of critical discourse analysis and corpus linguistics.


This module can be assessed in 3 ways (to be decided and registered in Week 4 of this semester):
a) oral exam (30 minutes) that takes place during the exam period
b) written exam (6 hours) that takes place during the exam period
c) in-class assessment (1. blog entry related to a politics of language topic (20%; 1000-1500 words) and 2. individual research paper (80%; c. 4000 words +/- 10%))


The course reading consists of a range of different articles. Details will be discussed in the first class of the course.

Additional information


Use contextFaculty codeStatusCredits
Master of arts, English (2015 ->) ›› English Linguistics - MA-ANG-3030Optional5.00
Master of arts, English (2007 ->) ›› Linguistic A - MA/12-SP 06Optional
Master of arts, English (2015 ->) ›› Oral examination based on a research file - MA-ANG-2020Optional5.00
Master of arts, English (2015 ->) ›› Writing essay based on a research file - MA-ANG-2010Optional5.00
Master of arts, Language and Communication Science (2015 ->) ›› Free courses choice - MA-SLC-20Optional5.00
Master of arts, Reinforcement programme (2015 ->) ›› English Linguistics - MA-RENF-ANGOptional5.00
Canton de Vaud
Swiss University
Unicentre  -  CH-1015 Lausanne  -  Suisse  -  Tél. +41 21 692 11 11  -  Fax  +41 21 692 26 15