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Reading Transnational Cultures (Level 4)


Module description

This module is designed to help you explore the ways in which culture relates to the ideas of the nation and the transnational by encouraging you to work with cultural artefacts which engage with more than one cultural context.

We will ask questions like: how important/restricting it is to explore culture within a national context; what does a text need to do to be described as transnational; can our understanding of these categories be transformed by our engagement with literary and filmic texts; what are some of the multiple ways in which a text can engage with more than one culture; are these always liberating and transformative or can they also be oppressive and reactionary; how important is language to these questions; do texts have to be monolingual or does transnationality require an engagement with more than one language? We will work together as experts in different cultural contexts to explore these ideas in relation to specific texts.

Indicative module syllabus

  • France and Americanisation: Jean-Luc Godard, Breathless (1960)
  • Germany and Americanisation: Wim Wenders, The American Friend (1977)
  • Imagining the colonial encounter: Albert Camus, L’Étranger (1942) [The Outsider]; L’Exil et le royaume (1957) [Exile and the Kingdom]
  • Imagining the (post)colonial encounter: Régis Wargnier, Indochine (1992); Claire Denis, Chocolat (1988); Claire Denis, White Material (2010)
  • Enlightenment perspectives: (i) France and England: Voltaire, Lettres philosophiques (1734) [Letters concerning the English Nation]; (ii) Persia and France: Montesquieu, Lettres persanes (1721 rev. ed. 1754) [Persian Letters]
  • Transnational youth icons in postwar Japan: N Kō akahira, Crazed Fruit (1956)
  • Contemporary transnational encounters: Alejandro González Iñárritu, Babel (2006) and Fatih Akin, Auf der anderen Seite/The Edge of Heaven (2007)

Learning objectives

By the end of this module, you will:

  • understand the ways in which culture relates to the ideas of the nation and the transnational
  • understand the complexities of working with cultural artefacts from more than one cultural context
  • be able to employ a range of skills relating to literary and filmic analysis
  • be able to reflect on the significance of language for understanding cultures.