Reading the Multilingual City: Chinese, Korean, and Japanese in Bay Area Linguistic Landscapes
General Catalog Course Title:
Reading the Multilingual City: Chinese, Korean, and Japanese in Bay Area Linguistic Landscapes
Terms Offered:
Fall 2012

This seminar explores the power of language as it appears on nearby buildings, streets, neighborhoods and other public spaces—the so-called “linguistic landscape” of the Bay Area. In light of such realities as the nationwide English Only movement and California’s ban against bilingual education, it asks how the meanings that are written into and read from bilingual signs on the streets relate to controversial issues of societal multilingualism. Focusing on (but not limited to) public displays of Chinese, Korean, and Japanese, the seminar features a balance of on-campus discussions with class visits to locations beyond UC Berkeley. Readings and guest speakers will challenge participants to contextualize and understand what they see not just with the descriptive tools of sociolinguistics, but also through the lenses of U.S. multicultural and ethnic studies, human and cultural geography, and visual culture studies. Throughout the duration of the course, students will engage in group multimedia projects representing an issue or topic of interest in the linguistic landscape. As a class, we will dialog with other On the Same Page classes at Berkeley, where the politics of visual and linguistic representation in the Adams & Newhall Fiat Lux project are being addressed. Although fluency in Chinese, Korean, Japanese or other languages is not required, this seminar will offer numerous opportunities for students currently enrolled in a language course to enrich and extend their language study.

For more detailed information about classes, please visit the UC Berkeley Online Schedule of Classes.