DOING INTERCULTURAL COMMUNICATION

At St. Edmund Hall, Oxford University from August 1 to 18, 2000

Lecturer and Tutor: Marcia V. Godich, Ph.D.

COURSE OVERVIEW

When the train starts, and the passengers are settled

To fruit, periodicals and business letters

(And those who saw them off have left the platform)

Their faces relax from grief into relief,

To the sleepy rhythm of a hundred hours.

Fare forward, travelers! not escaping from the past

Into different lives, or into any future;

You are not the same people who left that station

Or who will arrive at any terminus,

While the narrowing rails slide together behind you;

And on the deck of the drumming liner

Watching the furrow that widens behind you,

You shall not think "the past is finished"

Or "the future is before us."

At nightfall, in the rigging and the aerial,

Is a voice descanting (though not to the car,

The murmuring shell of time, and not in any language)

"Fare forward, you who think that you are voyaging;

You are not those who saw the harbor

Receding, or those who will disembark."

"The Dry Salvages"

T.S.Eliot

 

Traveling to another country is always both frightening and exciting. We look forward to exploring different scenes, tasting different foods, talking with strangers. But at the same time these differences discombobulate us, we want to retreat to the safety of our room, eat the comfort foods of our childhood, and hear the accents of home. And when we do venture out, to try to interact with our new environment, we are confronted with problems of communication. The language is the least of our problem ; we are ultimately most disconcerted by the underlying differences in attitudes and expectations…difference which go unrecognized because they are so much part of the very fabric of our social existence.

This course is designed to help us recognize those differences and learn how to use them to discover new worlds, new ways of interaction, new ways of looking at ourselves.

For, as Eliot reminds us at the end of "Little Gidding":

We shall not cease from exploration

And the end of all our exploring

Will be to arrive where we started

And know the place for the first time.

 

The ethnographics of the modern world system…also suggest that anthropologists revise their image of the discontinuous world, breaking up the boundaries of their cherished tribes and villages…The futuristic image of the global village need not, however, be a particularly realistic one. We should not underestimate the human capacity for reinforcing existing barriers, inventing new ones, or reinventing those of the past.

Beyond Boundaries: Understanding, Translation and Anthropological Discourse

Gíslí Pálsson

 

COURSE STRUCTURE AND PARAMETERS

Our class will meet in the classroom four mornings each week. Each class will be divided into three components:

In addition, I will meet with students individually or in small groups at least once each week, to determine their progress and suggest further directions for individual exploration.

Afternoons will be free, but will be utilized for explorations in Oxford and surrounding communities in fulfillment of class assignments. The three-day weekends provide opportunities for organized travel with students from other classes, or for travel ing on your own. Our class will plan for at least one day in London, to experience some of the more ethnic areas, including outdoor markets and a canal trip.

TEXTS

We will not be using a "textbook" per se, but will make use of several mystery novels that will introduce you to the Oxford scene. You should have these read before you arrive (depending on how f ast you read, they make interesting travel reading!)….then you will have an opportunity to review and discuss them during the class sessions. All three books are available in paperback, and their Barnes and Noble on-line price totals about $16:

Colin Dexter, The Dead of Jericho

Jane Langton, Dead as a Dodo

Dorothy Sayers, Gaudy Night

In addition, you will receive a packet of short readings by Mark Twain and Henry James, among others.

GRADING

Students taking the course for Undergraduate credits will be graded on class reports, individual tutorials, and a final exam.

Students taking the course for Honors or Graduate credit will, in addition, undertake independent projects, direct a class discussion on that project, and complete a written report (which may be completed after return to home campus and word processors !)