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Frequently Asked Questions

The Cultural Identity Studies Institute is connected to modern foreign languages - why is this?

A. Self always implies Other. In studying the languages of other nations we accede to their culture and to the particular programmes of identity formed and expressed within it. That involves discovering things we hadn't properly noticed before or methodically explored in our own culture. Not least, that we, too, are culturally programmed in ways which define 'us'. That's the gateway (as in our logo) that leads to the more general study known as the 'poetics' of cultural identity.

Do you just concentrate on the present day?

A. No, we also consider how particular identities vary in time and reflect cultural change.

What sort of materials do you study?

A. Identities are decipherable across the entire range of cultural manifestations (including, pre-eminently: literature and the arts, politics, social practices, rites, ideologies, myths, language itself. They are decipherable in the entirety of a culture’s signs (linguistic, textual, graphic, cinematographic, etc.) and in all its component codes (e.g. the discourse of fault and penitence of the wartime French Vichy regime).

Does that mean you have to be interdisciplinary?

A. Yes! Deciphering these signs engages the whole of human reality; hence, it requires the insights and perspectives of all cognate human sciences (social anthropology, philosophy, linguistics, political history, the history of ideas, sensibilities and thought forms).

Is Cultural Identity Studies an established discipline?

A. It is a significant interdisciplinary area of study, which is developing its key concepts and methodologies right now, in dialogue with the established disciplines on which it draws. That makes it an interesting and wide-open area in which to do research work. It offers great opportunities for those with a sense of intellectual adventure.

What are the qualities it requires?

A. You need competent reading knowledge of a modern foreign language; proven ability to analyse texts, documents and visual materials and to manage ideas; flexibility to cope with the diversity of perspectives and methods of study; an ability to see the broader picture and to synthesise boldly; real intellectual curiosity about how collective identities work and what culture contributes to them.