ASTK15632U CANCELLED - SEMINAR: Symbols and Myths in European Integration

Volume 2015/2016

Elective in the Specialisation "International Relations, Diplomacy and Conflict Studies"


The seminar examines the importance in symbols and myths in European integration. The azure European Flag with 12 gold stars a well-known symbol for 'European unity', as many will recognize myths and stories about how the European Union (EU) is our guarantor of peace and prosperity in Europe. The seminar focuses on a number of less successful, but significant symbols and myths about the EU by studying narratives of ‘economic Europe’, ‘social Europe', ‘green Europe’, and 'global Europe’.  Through theoretical, methodological and case study analysis, the seminar asks the questions: how widely disseminated and understood are symbols and myths about the EU? How does the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers use and perceive EU symbols and myths? How do governmental and non-governmental organisations use and perceive symbols and myths about the EU? How do politicians and officials working in and with the EU use and perceive use and perceive symbols and myths about the EU? And finally, does the use and spread of symbols and myths about the EU shape European integration? These questions are explored, and the results are compared within the four areas of  ‘economic Europe’, ‘social Europe', ‘green Europe’, and 'global Europe’.


Preliminary plan:

  1. Understanding symbols and myths in European integration
  2. economic symbols and myths
  3. economic policies and politics
  4. social symbols and myths
  5. social policies and politics
  6. green symbols and myths
  7. green policies and politics
  8. global symbols and myths
  9. global policies and politics


The seminar consists of nine 3-hour sessions placing a heavy emphasis on active learning through case study work. The seminar begins by introducing the differing understandings of symbols and myths, in particular emblematic, representational, ordering and dominating approaches from social theory. The main emphasis of the seminar will be on four differing myths of European integration – economic Europe, social Europe, green Europe, and global Europe. In each of these areas the seminar will first explore the broad symbols, myths and discourses of European integration. Second, in each area students will engage with selected case studies in order to explore the theoretical, policymaking and political details.


Questions raised in the seminar include theoretical questions such as how can we best understand different approaches to symbols and myths in European integration? As well as more empirical questions such as how are do symbols and myths shape policy making in economic, social, green and global policy areas?? And finally, are symbols and myths separate and separable from substance and facts???

Learning Outcome

The aim of the seminar is to enable the student to:

  • Describe how symbols, myths and discourse are deeply interdependent in European integration.
  • Present central theoretical perspectives of rational emblems, constructivist representations, post-structural orderings, and critical theoretical dominations.
  • Understand the role of symbols and myths in EU economic policy and politics.
  • Understand the role of symbols and myths in EU social policy and politics.
  • Understand the role of symbols and myths in EU green policy and politics.
  • Understand the role of symbols and myths in EU global policy and politics.
  • Be familiar with the role of symbols and myths in current EU policies and politics.


Badenoch, Alexander, and Andreas Fickers (eds.) Materializing Europe: Transnational Infrastructures and the Project of Europe (Palgrave, 2010). 

Bottici, Chiara, and Benoît Challand (eds.) Special Issue on ‘Myths and Maps of Europe’, Journal of Educational Media, Memory, and Society, 2009, Vol. 1, No. 2.

Bottici, Chiara, and Benoît Challand, Imagining Europe: Myth, Memory, and Identity (Cambridge University Press, 2013).

Della Sala, Vincent (ed.) Special Issue on ‘Mythologizing the European Union’, Journal of Common Market Studies, 2010, Vol. 48, No. 1.

Fornäs, Johan,  Signifying €urope (Bristol: Intellect, 2012).

Hall, Stuart, Jessica Evans and Sean Nixon, Representation: Cultural Representations and Signifying Practices, 2nd edition (Sage, 2013).

Kolvraa, Christoffer, Imagining Europe as a Global Player : The Ideological Construction of a New European Identity within the EU (P.I.E.-Peter Lang, 2012).

Lynggaard, Kennet, Ian Manners and Karl Löfgren (eds.) Research Methods in European Union Studies (Palgrave, 2015).

Manners, Ian, Substance and Symbolism: An Anatomy of Cooperation in the New Europe (Ashgate, 2000).

Manners, Ian, ‘Global Europa: Mythology of the European Union in World Politics’, Journal of Common Market Studies, 2010, Vol.48(1), pp. 67-87.

Manners, Ian, ‘Symbolism in European integration’, Comparative European Politics, 2011, Vol.9(3), pp. 243-68.

Passerini, Luisa (ed.) Figures d'Europe / Images and myths of Europe (P.I.E.-Peter Lang, 2004).

Wintle, Michael, The Image of Europe: Visualizing Europe in Cartography and Iconography Throughout the Ages (Cambridge University Press, 2009).


A detailed list of required readings will be provided during the seminar.


BA level in political science or similar competences and an interest in reflections on global public governance.
This Active Learning seminar requires Preparation, Participation, and Positive attitude. Preparation means that the seminar takes the form of Active Learning involving continuous assessment. Seminar assignments are compulsory and are continuously assessed. Seminar assignments must be written individually. Participation means that in order to pass the seminar, students must actively participate through a minimum of 75% (7 out of 9 meetings). Positive attitude means that students will constructively participate in a number of group learning activities which form the core of the seminar.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 28
  • Total
  • 28
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written assignment
Individuel written assignment
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Criteria for exam assesment
  • Grade 12 is given for an outstanding performance: the student lives up to the course’s goal description in an independent and convincing manner with no or few and minor shortcomings 
  • Grade 7 given for a good performance: the student is confidently able to live up to the goal description, albeit with several shortcomings 
  • Grade 02 is given for an adequate performance: the minimum acceptable performance in which the student is only able to live up to the goal description in an insecure and incomplete manner