This course introduces students to communication models from various historical periods (e.g. Ancient Greece, Early Modern age, nineteenth and twentieth century linguistics). It will examine the theories of Plato, Aristotle, Locke, Saussure, Bloomfield, Grice (among others) and subject them to critical scrutiny. Emphasis will be placed on discussing alternative theories of communication which attempt to take into account the individual’s lay experience, and therefore also the importance of communication in our lives. The overarching questions of this course, in fact, will be: (i) ‘What is (human) communication, and why does it matter to know?’. (ii) ‘How has communication been theorized in Western intellectual thought?’. (iii) ‘How does the theory affect my thinking about language and communication and how do the theories relate to my own experience of communication?’.




  • To enable students to gain an insight into how linguists and philosophers have theorized and systematized language and communication
  • To foster students’ critical thinking about theory and about the historical representation of it
  • To enable them to put historical discourses into their proper place and context
  • To encourage them to rely on their own communication experience as language-users in assessing linguistic theories




The course has three timetabled hours per week. Two hours will be devoted to lecturing and class-room activities. One hour will be variably used for tutorials, where students can ask questions and deepen certain aspects of the lecture contents.




Coursework: 100%

The primary requirements are:
individual written assignment (50%)
in-class test (40%)
attendance of and participation in tutorials and their assignments (10%)




Students will be given a number of key texts and particular passages for (in-class) close reading, which will be made available as the course unfolds.



Last updated: 18 July 2017