HENKE1902U English - Free topic 2: Discourse, Cognition and Society

Volume 2019/2020

This module deals with the interaction between discourse, or language use, and social cognition. The module consists of three part-courses – namely, Meaning and Mind in society, Cultural Linguistics and Methods in Discourse and Social Cognition – which introduce students to theoretical notions within the study of social and cultural cognition and language use as well as empirical methods and techniques that can be applied in the study of the intersection between social cognition, cultural cognition and language use.


Meaning and Mind in Society (Peter Harder)

This course introduces the theoretical foundations for understanding the interplay between language and social structures, and illustrates how these foundations can throw light on selected cases. Among these cases are immigration, management, economic policies and education. A key point is to aim for an approach that avoids attributing either too little or too much importance to language as opposed to social reality, understood as 'the way the social world actually works'.

An important part of this endeavour is to seek to integrate the description of the more 'humanities'-oriented aspects - meanings, attitudes and discourses - with the description of more hard-core, non-linguistic and non-cognitive aspects of the social process of which they form parts.


Cultural Linguistics (Kim Ebensgaard Jensen)

This course introduces students to the basic tenets of Cultural Linguistics, a cognitively based theory of language and culture which focuses on processes of cultural conceptualization and how these are reflected in the language system and language use. The course covers cultural categorization, cultural schemas, and cultural metaphor in and across varieties of English as we discuss cultural underpinnings of discourse and language use in connection with topics such as military conflict, ageing, marriage, language attitude and intercultural communication.


Methods in Discourse and Social Cognition (Kim Ebensgaard Jensen)

This course introduces students to a range of methods and analytical techniques that can be applied in the study of language use and socio-cultural cognition. The course will cover both qualitative and quantitative techniques, as students are introduced to the use of textually based analysis, surveys, interviews, transcriptions and corpus techniques. Our focus will be on the process of inferring social cognitive processes and structures through the study of language. While primarily a methodology course, there will also be elements of linguistic theorizing, as the course is anchored in the principles of usage-based linguistics and also addresses the interconnection between theory, method, and analysis in the study of social cognition and language use. Thus, the course should also be of value to students with an interest in doing research projects in linguistics, such as the Master’s thesis.


  • Meaning and Mind in Society: Bog (Elektronisk adgang via Kgl.Bibl): P. Harder (2010) Meaning in Mind and Society. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. + Compendium: Readings in the Social Dynamics of Meaning)
  • Cultural Linguistics: Topics in Cultural Linguistics (compendium)
  • Methods in Discourse and Social Cognition: Methods in the Linguistic Study of Social and Cultural Cognition (compendium)
Classes, with particular emphasis on reading primary and secondary texts, oral discussion and developing proficiency in English.

Module structure:
• Meaning and Mind in Society: 2 hours per week, 13 weeks
• Cultural Linguistics: 2 hours per week, 7 weeks (weeks 1-7)
• Methods in Discourse and Social Cognition: 2 hours per week, 6 weeks (weeks 8-13)

Cultural Linguistics runs in parallel with the first half of Meaning and Mind in Society, and Methods in Discourse and Social Cognition runs in parallel with the second half of Meaning and Mind in Society.
This course only leads to exams Free Topic 1, Free Topic 2 and Free Topic 3.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 56
  • Preparation
  • 353,5
  • Total
  • 409,5
Type of assessment
Portfolio, A joint portfolio uploaded in digital exam: Deadline January 8th 2020
Response papers (to be handed in before each class) covering Meaning and Mind in Society (75% required, 6 pages total, weighted 25%)
1 minor portfolio assignment (to be submitted in early November) covering Cultural Linguistics (5-7 pages; weighted 25%)
1 major portfolio assignment (10-12 pages; weighted 50%) (to be submitted at the end of the module) covering the entire module
Criteria for exam assesment