Georgetown backdrop

Language and Politics

This course examines the complex and multifaceted interplay between language and the political sphere. Taking a broad sociolinguistic approach that incorporates theoretical frameworks such as pragmatics, interactional sociolinguistics, ethnography, Critical Discourse Analysis, and multimodal discourse analysis, students consider the relationship between language and politics from three major perspectives. First, class participants will investigate language use in various genres of political discourse, including speeches, debates, advertising, and print and broadcast media coverage of political events, focusing on how various linguistic features serve to shape political identities and stances. Next, they will consider the discursive construction and negotiation of various policy issues (e.g., education, health, immigration), focusing on how these issues are framed by different political parties and stakeholders with divergent interests and ideologies. Finally, the class will take on the notion of language as a political issue itself, examining topics such as standard and official language movements, the status of language in the construction of national identity, and the role of language planning initiatives in addressing the shifting linguistic ecology of a globalizing world. This course (LING 380) is taught by Jennifer Sclafani as a Doyle Seminar (small upper-level classes that foster deepened student learning about diversity and difference through research and dialogue).

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Jennifer Sclafani headshot

Jennifer Sclafani

Department of Linguistics