Disciplines and Interdisciplinarity in Foreign Language Studies

By Hans Lauge Hansen | Go to book overview

by Inge Degn, Lisbeth Verstraete Hansen, Anne Magnussen, Jens Rahbek Rasmussen1


Introduction

Traditionally, the study of European languages and literatures has been organized in discrete departments, each of which studied one language, e.g. French, and the literature, culture and history of the nation chiefly associated with it, in this case France (rather than Belgium or Switzerland). However, recent decades have seen the field of study expand in several directions. Though the degree of hospitality shown to the new no doubt varies greatly from one university to the next, a language and literature department may now be expected to deal with colonial and postcolonial literature as well as with the multiculturalism of the metropolis; with mass literature and popular culture as well as with the traditional canon; and with cultural and social practices as well as with texts.

It is against this background that we offer a paper dealing critically with the national frame of reference in the study of foreign languages and literatures. We shall be examining concepts such as nation, state and identity from a range of disciplinary perspectives – linguistics, literature, history, and the social sciences – with a view to developing and testing a number of tools that can be used in various contexts. It is our hope that this may help us to identify, and with luck meet, some of the challenges to our fields of study which the current social, political, and cultural changes entail.

1 The working group also had Gert Sørensen and Charlotte Werther as members
and discussants.

-131-

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