Disciplines and Interdisciplinarity in Foreign Language Studies

By Hans Lauge Hansen | Go to book overview

Foreign Language Studies
and Interdisciplinarity

by Hans Lauge Hansen

Foreign Language Studies, both in Denmark and internationally, find themselves in a difficult situation: although contemporary society has a great need for linguistic and cultural competences, Foreign Language Departments at the universities are going through a slump. Student entries are declining, the academic prestige of the departments is waning and they are subjected to cutbacks in funding. This situation prompted the foundation, in September 2002, of The Language and Culture Network, with the aim of establishing and encouraging interdisciplinary collaboration between the traditional branches of Foreign Language Studies (linguistics, literary studies and history). The network brings together more than 100 scholars from different departments of Foreign Language Studies throughout Denmark, the purpose of this interdisciplinary enterprise being to comprehend each individual discipline in the light of a unitary object of study, the text. The present collection of articles reflects the activity of the Language and Culture Network between September 2002 and September 2003.

But how can interdisciplinarity be regarded as a solution to the kind of problems that haunt Foreign Language Studies? In order to address this question, it will be necessary to look both at the present situation of these studies and at the recent history of these departments.


The Object of Study of Foreign Languages Studies

The academic study of foreign languages was first implemented early in the 20th century with the purpose of providing society with high school teachers of foreign languages such as English, German and French, and it was created in the image of national philology. The tradition of Classical Philology goes back at least to the Renaissance, where the universal ideals

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