This module will explore a range of ways in which national and international political issues impact on the use, description and transmission of the English language. In the contemporary world, more than ever before, access to English - and to particular versions of English - can make a fundamental difference to the life-chances of citizens, not only in this country but also much further afield. The module will help students to understand how this situation has arisen, how conflicting political interests have been involved in the developments underlying it, and how various groups and individuals have responded to it.
The first semester will introduce the historical background, looking both at the large-scale events that led to a spread of English around the world, and also at the attitudes to nationhood in England and associated efforts to prescribe a standard version of the language. The second semester will deal with more contemporary issues, including recent policies for teaching English language and literacy in England, and the controversies associated with these, and current developments in the commodification of English, including the TESOL 'industry' and the many cultural products, from popular music and film to post-colonial literature, in which the English language plays a contested role.