Marcel Burger (Université de Lausanne)


From 15:15
to 16:45
From 15:15
to 16:45


Course description

In terms of communication, most institutional and ordinary contexts involve intercultural, multilingual and multimodal features. At first, the course will present the key concepts in the domain of intercultural communication. Then it will focus on a series of research questions linked with globalization: What is intercultural communication in a globalized world? Are there universals in terms of intercultural communication? What role play genres of communication? What is at stake with face to face interaction? How do we best deal with mediated interaction? What is strategic maneuvering and embodiment in intercultural communication? Accordingly, the course will cover the following topics:

  • The role of context: what are the situations, genres, normative practices?
  • The role of identity: who is doing what in terms of communication?
  • The role of face threatening: what is politeness and impoliteness?
  • The role of dynamic body language: what is the role of gesture, gaze, voice?
  • The role of static features: what means the look and posture?
  • The role of affects in communication: what is empathy, charisma, aggressiveness, alignment in public and private contexts?

Learning outcomes

In this course, the students will acquire and improve knowledge and awareness of the role of language in intercultural communication. They will be able to identify differences as well as universals in various multicultural and multilingual contexts. Therefore, the students will increase intercultural competences and skills in terms of communication. In particular, the students will:

  • Learn to read and discuss texts on intercultural communication and what is at stake with it.
  • Learn to transcribe multimodal intercultural data and analyze it.
  • Learn to circumscribe communicative strategies and negotiation skills in multicultural contexts.

Teaching method

The sessions will be structured around the discussion of seminal essays anchored into subtopics. Students will have to read each essay in preparation of the respective session. The discussion will include the students’ own experiences and intuitions concerning intercultural and multilingual contexts.

We will also focus together on “what is happening here and now” in terms of negotiation in the class room interaction as a means of going reflexive in intercultural communication.

I will foster active participation via comparison and debate given the multicultural composition of the audience.


The students’ grade will be composed by:

  • Class participation (20%): presence and engagement in group discussions (individual).
  • Class exercises (20%) on the basis of transcribed or to be transcribed data (small groups of 2-3 students).
  • Report (30 %): 1 or 2 readings per session and 1 oral presentation / or summary of the arguments of 1 session (small groups of 2 -3 students)
  • Final essay (30%) on a subtopic addressed during the seminar (small group of 2-3 students)

A mid-term grade will be communicated to the VIU office based on class participation and exercises.


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Arnaut K., J Blommaert, B. Rampton and M. Spotti (2012). Language and Superdiversites II. Diversities vol. 14 n°2: 1-120.

Blommaert j. (2016). “Meeting of Styles” and the online infrastructures of graffiti. Applied linguistic Review 7 (2): 99-115.

Bratt Paulston C., S.F. Kiesling & E.S. Rangel (2014). Handbook of Intercultural Discourse and Communication. London. Wiley Blackwell.

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