This guide is created to instruct students taking ENG297 Cultural History of English the research and analytical skills needed to find, evaluate and use information effectivelly.
Knowledge of the cultural legacy of English as the world language of today's politics, business, computing, and lately of all sciences and creative arts, is essential for a more conscious appreciation and enjoyment of the moral, intellectual and creative achievements of all Western civilization. In this course students are strongly encouraged to work with books on cultural/social/political English, American, Australian and European history, on the role of religious and political ideologies in building human civilizations, with vocabularies and encyclopedias and other reference books on the English language, paying special attention to the correlation between culture and language – reflected both by grammar and vocabulary, etymology, examples and usage notes in the sources.
English as a means of global communication is not a simple collection of dry facts, neither a mere application of these facts, but a living organism. Every responsible speaker of English (as a native or a foreign tongue) should have the necessary minimum of background knowledge of its nature, origin, and historical paths of the development of its speech communities through time and space.
This course, as any study of the historical coexistence of language and culture, will reflect also the newest trends in the anthropological, social, and linguistic analysis - understanding of the specific nature of any human aspect as a part of a complex whole, rather than a separate and disconnected entity.
Any human communication is based on its subject, the situation of the communication act taking place, and the participants in the interaction between opinions and levels of knowledge. Every human participant has a certain culturally and linguistically specific experience of the world. Successful communication is impossible, if the language's and its speech community's extra-linguistic information is underestimated ("background knowledge" of culture and history plays a role equal to the grammatical/lexical one).
The focal point of all the above and the basic students’ course outcome is formation of a thorough theoretical and practical understanding of the nature and development of the English language through history and its correlation with the cultural/social/political setting of the English speaking communities (USA and UK in particular).
The content will cover the following main topics in order to provide the necessary minimum of background in the history of the English language, its changing nature, and the interdependence between language, culture, and ideology in the life of the corresponding English speaking communities:
- The essence of the English language and its origins
- Cultural and linguistic contacts with diverse ethnic communities, which have contributed to its successful growth into a World English (Celts, Romans and their civilization, medieval imperial subject nations, genuine American population, 20th century political events, etc.)
- Step by step development through the last 1,600 years in the British isles and beyond (e.g., in the New World)
- Its correlation with all basic features of the English speech communities (e.g., religious, political, and social aspects of the latter’s history; e.g., the emergence of a new specific cultural pattern - Anglicanism)
- Historical periods in the development of culture, society, and the expression abilities of all versions/variants of the English language.
In class lectures, discussions, student readings, and documentary movies, as well as in papers and presentations participants will observe, analyze, and apply the specific ways how knowledge is acquired and how research is conducted, how questions arise and how controversies are resolved in the particular field of human experience, i.e. study of the English language as a specific historical and cultural thought record with worldwide importance.