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Module LXE-0002:
Transnational Cultures

Module Facts

Run by School of Languages, Literatures, Linguistics and Media

10 Credits or 5 ECTS Credits

Semester 2

Organiser: Dr Jonathan Ervine

Overall aims and purpose

How can knowledge of languages and cultures enhance our understanding of the key historical, political and social issues of our time? How do European and other world languages and cultures interact in the creation of key historical and sociocultural experiences? What critical skills do we develop through knowledge of modern languages to interpret history, culture and society over extensive periods of time and in the present day? This module will equip you with an understanding of how languages and language interaction have played a central role in key historical, political, and cultural themes and events. It will also show you how knowledge of languages helps us engage with the transnational dimension of culture. Following a thematic approach, rather than one based on traditional divisions between nations and nation states, this module will explore how broad concepts (including colonialism, travel, popular cultures, art, testimony) can be studied from the point of view of how they engage questions related to language. You will gain a solid foundation in critical analysis through exposure to five case studies related to Hispanic, Francophone, Italian, German and Chinese contexts from a transnational perspective. All selected case studies will be available in translation and will comprise a wide range of cultural genres – including film, literature, art, history and the media.

Course content

Through a weekly combination of lecture and seminar, this module will first introduce you to key concepts and methods in modern languages research (including questions such as language variation across time and space, language conflict, translation, intercultural communication and reading in the target language). The course will then cover five thematic blocks of two weeks each devoted to the following subjects in transnational cultural studies (colonialism, travel, popular cultures, art, testimony). During each thematic block, students will be first introduced to relevant key concepts and then shown, through a variety of applications and case studies, how engagement with language-related issues enhances our understanding of each these concepts and beyond.

Assessment Criteria


C- to B+ For the award of higher grades, students should demonstrate a solid comprehension of the various topics studied, with clear understanding of the correlations and interrelations highlighted, having also analysed and evaluated key sources. They should demonstrate a satisfactory grasp of theoretical issues. Submitted work should not contain large numbers of factual or typographical errors.


D- to D+ For the award of credit, students should demonstrate a satisfactory comprehension of the various topics studied, with some understanding of the correlations and interrelations highlighted. They should demonstrate a limited awareness of theoretical issues. Submitted work should demonstrate an attempt to avoid major weakness in presentation.


A- and above: For the award of the highest grade, students should demonstrate a detailed comprehension of the various topics studied, with a nuanced understanding of the correlations and interrelations highlighted, having also analysed and evaluated key sources thoroughly. They should demonstrate a sophisticated understanding of, and engagement with, key theoretical issues; submitted work must be presented to high standards.

Learning outcomes

  1. Comprehend how knowledge of modern languages helps us to understand cultural and historical phenomena from multiple disciplinary perspectives.

  2. Engage with cutting-edge scholarship on cultural analysis and its applications to contexts across time and space

  3. Use a range of theoretical and critical approaches that are key to modern language study

  4. Recognise, value and work with linguistic and cultural diversity

  5. Confidently analyse a wide range of cultural products in their historical context and from transnational perspectives

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
ESSAY Reflective commentary

Commentary on an extract from a historical text (written or visual), which should respond to the guiding questions set by the relevant lecturer.

ESSAY Final essay

Essay on one a topic relevant to one of the five main thematic blocks on the module. Students will be provided with a list of five potential essay questions from which to choose, and questions will be set and marked by the members of staff who coordinated each thematic block.


Teaching and Learning Strategy


One lecture and one seminar per week x 11

Private study

Students will read set materials at home in preparation for the following week's classes, and research and write the assessed essay


Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Computer Literacy - Proficiency in using a varied range of computer software
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting
  • Self-awareness & Reflectivity - Having an awareness of your own strengths, weaknesses, aims and objectives. Able to regularly review, evaluate and reflect upon the performance of yourself and others

Subject specific skills

  • Extract and synthesise key information from written and/or spoken sources in English / Welsh and/or the target language. (Benchmark statement 5.14)
  • The ability to organise and present ideas within the framework of a structured and reasoned argument in written and/or oral assignments and class discussions. (Benchmark statement 5.14)
  • Critical skills in the close reading, description, reasoning and analysis of primary and secondary sources in the target language and/or English or Welsh (incl. filmic, literary and other sources). (Benchmark statement 5.13, 5.14, 5.15)
  • Competence in the planning and execution of essays, presentations and other written and project work; bibliographic skills, including the accurate citation of sources and consistent use of conventions and appropriate style in the presentation of scholarly work. (Benchmark statement 5.10, 5.14, 5.15)
  • The ability to gather information, analyse, interpret and discuss different viewpoints and to place these in a wider socio-cultural and/or geo-historical and political and/or socio-linguistic context and to revise and re-evaluate judgements in light of those of the course leader, certain individuals or groups studied and/or fellow students. (Benchmark statement 5.13, 5.15 and 5.16)
  • The ability to write and think under pressure and meet deadlines. (Benchmark statement 5.15)
  • The ability to write effective notes and access and manage course materials including electronic resources / information provided on online learning platforms and library resources. (Benchmark statement 5.15, 5.16)
  • The ability to work creatively and flexibly both independently and/or as part of a team. (Benchmark statement 5.15).
  • The ability and willingness to engage with and appreciate other cultures and to articulate to others (in written and verbal form) the contribution that the culture has made at a regional and global level. (Benchmark statement 5.7)
  • The ability to grasp and discuss how films reflect objective or subjective positions in their treatment of their subject matter. (Benchmark statement 5.7 and 5.10)
  • Skills in the critical reading and analysis of literary and/or musical and/or filmic texts. (Benchmark statement 5.10)
  • The ability to comprehend, critically engage with and apply relevant theoretical concepts to materials being studied. (Benchmark statement 5.10)
  • The ability to engage in analytical, evaluative and original thinking. (Benchmark statement 5.14)


Resource implications for students

Students will be able to access reading materials via the university library.

Talis Reading list

Reading list

Essential General Reading:

Gafaïti, Hafid; Patricia M. E Lorcin; David G Troyansky (2009) Transnational spaces and identities in the francophone world, Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.

Horst, Carl Wolfgang and Doris Bachmann-Medick (2014) The Trans/National Study of Culture: A Translational Perspective, Berlin/Boston: De Gruyter.

Koundoura, Maria (2012) Transnational culture, transnational identity: the politics and ethics of global culture exchange, London: I.B. Tauris.

Maitland, Sarah (2017) What is Cultural Translation? London: Bloomsbury

Spencer-Oatey, Helen (2009) Intercultural interaction: a multidisciplinary approach to intercultural communication, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Thiel, Rebecca Friedman Markus (2012) European Identity and Culture Narratives of Transnational Belonging. Farnham: Ashgate.

Von Mossner, Alexa Weik (2014) Cosmopolitan minds: literature, emotion, and the transnational imagination, Austin: University of Texas Press First Edition.

Courses including this module