L&S Curricular Connections

L&S Discovery Courses

LS 180B

Language and Power

Social and Behavioral Sciences

As the saying goes, “Sticks and stones/ Can break my bones/ But words will never hurt me”—but is that really so? We all know that people do things with words and that in turn words do things to people. Language can inform or deceive, seduce or insult, make us fall in love or kill our reputation. What is it about language that gives it that power? How can sounds in a conversation, signs on a page make us laugh or cry? Why are we so attached to the language we grew up with? Why can a foreign language be so sexy? What does it take to speak and be not only heard but actually responded to? How do our words remember, imagine, anticipate, respond to the words of others? And how can we acquire conversational power? This course will explore the workings of language as social symbolic power in everyday life. We will examine the discourse of politics and the media, children’s books and advertisements, psychobabble and corporate-speak, as well as the relation between language and identity, ideology, and myth.

Claire Kramsch faculty profile
Claire Kramsch (German)

Terms Offered

  • Spring 2019
  • Spring 2018
  • Spring 2015
  • Fall 2013
  • Spring 2012
  • Spring 2011
  • Spring 2010
  • Spring 2009
  • Spring 2008
  • Fall 2006
  • Spring 2006