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LN903 Trans/national Cultures


There are no specific language requirements for this course

Aims and Objectives


The transcultural turn at the end of the twentieth century has opened up an exciting new direction for cultural studies in modern foreign languages.

Increased global movement of people, goods and ideas means that how we understand "the nation" and concepts of national identity have changed significantly. Emphasising cross-border relations and looking at how concepts ‘travel’, this transcultural turn has created a heightened awareness of transnational patterns of exchange and affiliation. New technologies and methods of transport have increased the porosity of borders, making it possible to be both here and there. This in turn extends and stretches the range of, for example, politics and notions of responsibility.

This course is particularly interested in how concepts are translated, re-interpreted and circulated, within, across and beyond national boundaries. This transcultural approach will flag up similarities and differences between cultures, while also spotlighting the limitations of more traditional readings of national culture as a homogenous entity. Tapping into cross-School research specialisms and engaging with Chinese, French, German, Italian, Hispanic Studies case studies, it allows students to explore the culture of their choice in a wider context while also offering them an opportunity to gain a more complex understanding of what exactly culture means.

The module will allow students to:

  • Critically reflect on the central tenets of transculturalism and apply them to their own work (essay)
  • Explore cultural exchanges outside language-specific boundaries
  • Deepen their knowledge of the culture and history of their language of specialism
  • Critically reflect on what culture means and how it is comprised
  • Explore patterns of exchange and connection
  • Develop their critical awareness, analytical and written skills at MA level
  • Develop their presentation skills through in-class (not assessed) seminar presentation
  • Engage critically with theoretical literature and use this to support arguments (essay)
  • Develop further key transferable skills including effective and efficient communication, self-motivation, self- reliance, co-operation, and time and information management.
Teaching and Learning Methods

After an introductory lecture on the topic of trans/nationalism and transcultural approaches in week 1-2, students will explore different case studies in weekly seminars (weeks 3 - 8). We will consolidate TTS theory and practice as well as discuss essay topics in weeks 9. Week 10 will consist of an essay preparation workshop.

The case studies are as follows:

    • Transnationalism and Immigration in Present-Day France & Local and Global Identities in Disneyland, Paris (week 3), run by Dr Will Amos

    In this session we will be looking at two articles: one on transnationalism and immigration in present-day France; the other on the clashes between local and global identities in the construction and marketing of Disneyland Paris. Both deal with transnationalism as a process of journey, movement, transfer; but also of tension with the local, and of protectionism.

    • Transnational Intellectual Networks in Post-War Italy (week 4), run by Dr Mila Milani

    This session will look at the transnational networks developed by Italian intellectuals in a moment of political redefinition in the passage between the Fascist dictatorship and the Republican years. The session will focus on some key Italian journals and publishing houses between 1945 and 1960, and discuss the role of translation as a means for developing transcultural dialogue outside national borders and for forging narratives of political commitment.

    • Western Conceptions of 'Love' and 'Marriage' in China (week 5), run by Dr Qian Liu

    In this session, we will discuss the introduction of Western conceptions of "love", "free love", and "marriage" into China at the turn of the twentieth century. Students will be asked to read materials that discuss the transformation in Chinese attitudes towards love and marriage at the time, the many heated debates which centered on these issues, and the role literary works translated from English, French and other European languages played in this process.

    • The Reception of Our Bodies, Ourselves in Spain (week 7), run by Dr Olga Castro

    In this session we will focus on different Spanish translations of the 193-page booklet Our Bodies, Ourselves (OBOS), published by a group of women activists in the US in 1970 to discuss sexuality and reproductive health. We will focus on the transnational reception of that book in translation, including the cultural adaptation both for Latina women in the US and for women in Spain. Special attention will be paid to how the translations challenged notions of hegemonic feminism in the US and helped creating gender awareness in the early stages of feminism in Spain.

    • Translating the French philosopher Michel Foucault into English and German (week 8), run by Melissa Pawelski

      In this session, we will focus on the English and German translations of one of the most influential writings by the French philosopher Michel Foucault (1926-1984), Surveiller et punir. Naissance de la prison (1975; Discipline and Punish. The Birth of the Prison, 1977) to discuss the extent to which the translations differ from the original. This comparative analysis will shed light especially on concepts, such as power (pouvoir), the body (le corps), or la surveillance, which Foucault both uses and criticises for the purpose of writing his critique of disciplinary power in modern societies. The trilingual approach will furthermore elucidate Foucault’s important German-language influences.



    100% Course Work:
    5,000-word essay

    Deadline for submission:

    Thursday 12 May 2022, noon via Tabula

    Schedule and Teaching Delivery

    if the module runs, sessions are on Mondays, 9-11am (UK time) in OC1.01 (Term 2)

    Module Convenor

    Dr Will Amos