Second-year of study B.A. proseminars (2BA PRO) for summer term 2023–2024 (Full-time programmes)

What is this list?

This is a list of proseminars we intend to launch in the summer term (February–June) in some of our full-time B.A. programmes whose second year of study is the academic year 2023–2024. This list is intended for:

  1. Students at the Faculty of English who are about to enter the second term of the second year of their full-time B.A. programme: this is your reference point before your enrolment into proseminars;
  2. Candidates for our full-time programmes: this list gives you a snapshot of what proseminars were on offer for the study cycle that started a year earlier, that is in 2022.

How to navigate the list?

The list is sorted by name of the teacher. The format is the following: title of the proseminar, the name of the teacher, information on which programme(s) the proseminar is for, and the description of the proseminar.

Which proseminar is for whom?

The programmes in the list and their abbrieviations are:

  • English Philology (Filologia angielska) — FA
  • English-Celtic Philology (Filologia angielsko-celtycka) — FAC
  • English Linguistics: Theories, Interfaces, Technologies — ELTIT
  • English Studies: Literature and Culture — ESLC

Note: The expression target programme(s) is used to signal for which study programme (FA, FAC, ELTIT, ESLC) a given course is primarily offered (which differs between the courses on this page); students in ELTIT are offered a course which is exclusive to ELTIT but may also select a course in in which ELTIT is listed among other programmes; ESLC are offered three courses which are exclusive to ESLC but may select select a course in in which ESLC is listed among other programmes.

The programmes in Dutch Studies (Studia niderlandystyczne) and in English and Chinese Studies (Filologia angielsko-chińska) are not covered by this list.

Current Issues in British Politics, Society and Culture

dr Samuel Bennett

Target programme: ESLC only

Like many countries, Britain finds itself in a period of upheaval. From Brexit, to Scottish Independence, to immigration, religion and the so-called culture wars, the UK has a lot on its plate. Led by students’ interests, in this course we will delve into these and other issues to ‘take the temperature’ of politics, society and culture. We will start with introductory lessons on how British politics works and who the main figures are, as well as how the British public sphere operates (civil society, media). We will then move to weekly presentations and student-led discussions on different issues, including: devolution, the legacy of colonialism, race/immigration, the role of sport, LGBTQIA+ issues, the environment, and social class.

Assessment will be based on a discussion leading activity (25%), a short self-reflective essay (25%) and active class participation (50%)

English dictionaries

prof. UAM dr hab. Anna Dziemianko

Target programmes: FA, FAC, ELTIT, and ESLC = all programmes covered in this page
Note: this proseminar is also available as part of the AMU-PIE programme — follow this link for details

The aim of the seminar is to lend some insight into user-oriented solutions adopted in dictionaries of English for foreign learners. The rationale behind selected modifications introduced into dictionary design will be presented and the usefulness of the changes will be examined. Findings from recent empirical studies will be discussed in class and students will be encouraged look at the available learners’ dictionaries to see whether their design meets learners’ needs. Thus, the reading of the materials assigned will be regularly supplemented with a critical examination of learners’ dictionaries. Although monolingual learners’ dictionaries will be of primary interest, other dictionary types will also be considered. The seminar will encourage participants to look at the dictionaries from a new, critical perspective. Constructive suggestions for further improvements in dictionaries to make them better serve users’ needs will be highly appreciated. There are no special course prerequisites; everybody who wants to be able to look at dictionaries from a new angle is welcome.

Second language acquisition and bilingualism

prof. UAM dr hab. Anna Ewert

Target programmes: FA, FAC, and ELTIT but not ESLC

The course will focus on selected topics in second language acquisition and bilingualism research, providing a gentle introduction to research methods and encouraging a critical approach.

We will start by defining the basic terms, with a focus on who is bilingual or multilingual. This will be followed by a brief discussion of factors affecting bilingual development and a hands-on survey of instruments used to assess bilingual proficiency. In the next part of the course, we will focus on an overview of major theoretical positions on how people learn, how languages are acquired and how the two languages of a bilingual function in a single mind. Finally, we will focus on the multilingual mind and how it processes the two languages, examining available evidence from empirical research, designing our own mini-experiments and analysing the results.

During the course, in addition to reading and discussing empirical research, the participants will carry out their own mini-projects to examine empirically various aspects of the bilingual experience and get a feel of conducting different types of empirical research.

Course credit requirements include critical reading of published research and participation in class discussions, project work and a short end of the semester quiz.

British and American journalism in film, other media and literature

prof. UAM dr hab. Janusz Kaźmierczak

Target programmes: ESLC only

As media have become central to the modern world, the profession of journalism and the figure of the journalist have caught the attention of filmmakers. Journalism and journalists feature prominently in British and American film and television. In its first part this seminar introduces the profession of journalism, stressing journalism’s ethics. Then, in its main part, it discusses the varied and changing face of journalism, as it has been presented in selected British and American films. Where possible, these filmic representations are considered together with related representations in other media and literature. The films discussed will include classics such as All the president’s men, as well as less well-known productions. Towards the end of the seminar, students will present their own interpretations of the image of journalism in films and in related media and literary representations. For this purpose they will work on films not discussed earlier in class and will use the theoretical knowledge and conceptual frameworks acquired during the course. Assessment will be based on continuous evaluation, student presentations, and a final test.

Feminitives for gender equality?

prof. UAM dr hab. Agnieszka Kiełkiewicz-Janowiak

Target programmes: FA, FAC, and ELTIT but not ESLC

Do “masculine generics” really refer universally to all people, irrespective of their gender? Do nouns in the feminine gender need to be (re)introduced in Polish to provide for more gender equal representation? What might be the impact of social action performed through the use grammatical means? Grammatical gender in a range of languages will be explored along with its relation to the concept of socio-cultural gender. The focus will be on the ongoing changes in the linguistic practices, their social motivations and impact. The idea of gender inclusive communication will be considered as one driving force.

Finally, students will do fieldwork (individually or in groups) to collect data to address the central question of the seminar: Can social ends be achieved by promoting grammatical change? Thus, students will learn to select a methodology for a data collection task and an analytical approach to the data. This will prepare them for designing their own BA empirical projects in (socio)linguistics.

Corpus Methods in Cognitive and Functional Linguistics

prof. UAM dr hab. Karolina Krawczak-Glynn

Target programme: ELTIT only

This seminar focuses on current trends of research in cognitive and functional linguistics. This framework assumes that language – as an integral part of human cognition – is motivated by usage and is meaningful at its every level. Consequently, meaning is treated as a central phenomenon emerging from and evolving in interaction. In light of the above theoretical assumptions, corpus linguistics presents an excellent set of methods to address research questions within cognitive and functional linguistics. In this course, we will consider a range of relevant empirical studies in the field exemplifying the implementation of corpus methodology to modeling lexical, grammatical, and discursive structure in language. The students will be familiarized with selected methodological applications in the field and will be guided to employ their newly-acquired skills in small projects of their own choosing (prepared individually, in pairs or in small groups). The projects and active participation in in-class activities will be the basis for evaluation.

Introduction to Native American Studies

dr Zuzanna Kruk-Buchowska

Target programme: ESLC only

In this course, you will be introduced to the interdisciplinary field of Native American Studies. After its completion, you will have a better understanding of the histories and cultures of Indigenous Peoples in the USA, as well as their current place in US society. You will also be introduced to some theoretical concepts and frameworks, e.g., decolonization, cultural resistance, and (post)coloniality.

First, we will discuss the history of Indigenous Peoples in North America and the impact of colonization on their cultures and societies. Some of the topics presented in this section are Indigenous cultures prior to colonization, treaties signed between First Nations and the US government, and assimilation policies and the boarding school experience. Next, we will move on to the main part of the course in which we will discuss contemporary Indigenous social and political issues and cultural expressions, including land rights, health in Indigenous communities, cultural revival (e.g. language and foodways), Indigenous knowledges, education, Indigenous sports, film, music, etc.

For course completion, you will be expected to read the assigned materials, actively participate in class discussion, prepare a presentation on a selected topic, and write a short essay on a topic of choice (not necessarily covered in class).

A (Her)story of Words: English Vocabulary Through Centuries

dr Justyna Rogos-Hebda

Target programmes: FA, FAC, and ELTIT but not ESLC

“Words, words, words, words” – it must have been that great songstress of our time, Robyn Rihanna Fenty, whose powerful message on the importance of lexicon resonated with millions of audiophiles around the world. Or was it Shakespeare? Regardless of whether you are Team Rihanna or Team William (or both), as a WA-student you surely realise the importance of “knowing your English words”. If you also care about the long and winding history of the English lexicon, its origins, meanings, power(lessness) and ever-changing nature, this proseminar might be of interest to you. We will be looking at the processes that have shaped the English vocabulary from the earliest written records of English till today’s DMs; we’ll take a deep-dive into the exciting world of word formation, go on a tour of language contact history, take a peek into taboo and offensive vocabulary, see how the interactions between language, society and technology inspire lexical changes and consider how what you say (in English) isn’t always what you necessarily mean. You can expect weekly reading entry quizzes (after all: words, words, words, words, words) and the required submission of an end-of-term in-class expository essay on a chosen topic specific to English vocabulary issues covered in class.

Recommended (but not the only) reading

Baugh, Albert C. and Thomas Cable. 2006. A history of the English Language (6th edition).
Crystal, David. 2004. The Stories of English.
Katamba, Francis. 1993. Morphology.
Stockwell, Robert P. and Donka Minkova. 2001. English Words. History and Structure.

Canadian shorts (with a sprinkling of longjohns)

prof. UAM dr hab. Agnieszka Rzepa,

Target programmes: FA, FAC, ELTIT, and ESLC = all programmes covered in this page
Note: this proseminar is also available as part of the AMU-PIE programme — follow this link for details

The aim of the seminar is to familiarize students with Canadian literary tradition and major trajectories of change in Canadian literature from the second half of the 19th to the first two decades of 21st century. Special emphasis will fall on contemporary prose—primarily “shorts” (short stories, sketches, essays), and a few somewhat longer texts (primarily short novels or memoirs). Texts selected for discussion vary in genre, style, subject-matter and focus, allowing students to appreciate the diversity of contemporary Canadian literature and its cultural contexts. The contexts—cultural, social, literary—will be crucial during our discussions as we try to find best ways of approaching each text. Course work will include individual and group assignments, various (brief) written and oral activities, and—most importantly—active engagement with literary and critical texts in class.

The Nobel Prize winners and their work

prof. dr hab. Liliana Sikorska

Target programmes: FA, FAC, ELTIT, and ESLC = all programmes covered in this page

England and Ireland boast of a number of winners of the Nobel Prize in Literature. The works of William Butler Yeats, Samuel Beckett, Seamus Heaney, William Golding, Harold Pinter, Doris Lessing, Kazuo Ishiguro and Abdulraznah Gurnah rank among best authors in English. The writings of South Africans such as Nadine Gordimer and John Maxwell Coetzee, as well as a Caribbean writer V.S. Naipaul show the importance of the English language as the lingua franca of contemporary global world; the fact, frequently stressed by Orhan Pamuk, whose novels and essay have all been translated into English. The above mentioned writers present diverse opinions on history, politics and contemporary culture; their literary output touches upon an array of themes and forms. This seminar is devoted to the study of their works; the analyses should help us discover common ideas over and above the points of divergence. During the seminar we will look at shorter texts, adaptations, and fragments of novels and will conduct discussions concerning not only the selected texts themselves but also sociology of literature, that is why and what receives the highest literary recognition.

Select Bibliography

Currie, Mark. 2011 [1998]. Postmodern Narrative Theory. London: Palgrave Macmillan.
Green Martin. 1991. Seven Types of Adventure Tale. An Etiology of a Major Genre. University Park, Pennsylvania: The Pennsylvania State University Press.
Sutherland, John. 2007. Bestsellers. A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Debating and participation

dr Joanna Śmiecińska

Target programmes: FA, FAC, and ELTIT but not ESLC

Public debating has a long documented tradition stemming from Ancient Greece and then Rome. It has a central role in democracies where it can produce social consensus and lead to a changed perception of what is right and wrong. Slavery a non-debatable topic in the world of Aristotle, where it was simply considered natural, underwent a long debate throughout human history to finally become non-debatable again this time as completely, and rightly so, unacceptable. The public sphere, however is not the only one affected by debates. If lead in an honest and thoughtful way, a debate can produce changes in any sphere of life. The aim of the pro-seminar is twofold. On the one hand it will offer a theoretical and practical introduction to debating. We will briefly discuss the history of debating, and then move on to basic concepts, such as arguments and their structure, evidence, warrants, refutations, rebuttals, and the most common logical fallacies. On the other hand, the debate format will provide means to expand your knowledge and boost your researching skills in general.  We will discuss such subject areas as human rights and social participation, philosophy and the meaning of life, science, language and education. The course requirements include reading and watching the assigned materials, preparing 1-2 debate(s) with notes in a written form, and active participation in discussions.

Selected bibliography

Pirie, Madsen, 2006. How to win every argument; the use and abuse of logic, Bloomsbury Academic
Squirrel, Tim, British Parliamentary Debating for Beginners, Edinburgh University Debates Union
Zompetti, Joseph P. 2008. Discovering the World Through Debate: A Practical Guide to Educational Debate for Debaters, Coaches and Judges. International Debate Education Association
Hurley, Patrick. 2011. A concise introduction to logic. Cengage Learning

Language unlimited

prof. dr hab. Przemysław Tajsner

Target programmes: FA, FAC, and ELTIT but not ESLC

The title of this proseminar is inspired by a book by David Adger (2019) Language unlimited. The science behind our most creative power. The discussions will revolve around an idea that human language displays three major properties which make it special and specifically human: (i) it is structured, (ii) it is hierarchical, and (iii) it is recursive. These are the limitations imposed on language by the mind and our biology. This view will be confronted with an opposing one by which language grows essentially from experience and is stored in memory in the form of fixed patterns. We will also reflect on AI’s (ChatGPT’s) linguistic competence and expertise. In the first part, discussions will be based on a selection of readings from Adger’s book. In the second part, every participant will give a 25-30 minutes presentation based on one of the subsequent texts selected to be read by all participants. There are no special prerequisites for the course – it is recommended to anyone interested in language and linguistics. Though touching upon syntax, the course will not include any formal syntactic analysis. The final assessment will be based on the activity in class, individual presentations and the end-term achievement test.

Languages and language speakers in comparative studies

prof. UAM dr hab. Elżbieta Wąsik

Target programmes: FA, FAC, and ELTIT but not ESLC

The objective of the course is to familiarize its participants with the principles of investigating and categorizing languages in terms of similarities and differences between them. The implications and results of taking the descriptive and comparative points of view in the study of the languages in the world will be discussed in terms of three groups of interrelated issues. It will be demonstrated that, firstly, languages are classified into language families and groups (due to their origin) or language leagues due to affinity between them), and language types (due to similarities between them within their phonological, morphological, syntactic or semantic systems). Secondly, the structural diversity of languages in the world will be confronted with the anthropological, ethnic, political, social, cultural, and civilizational diversity of the world’s population. Finally, when it comes to the names of languages that are mostly equal to ethnonyms, that is, are derived from the words referring to their speakers in the native language or other languages, attention will be paid to the difficulties in identifying them in situations when languages have more than one name. Statements about linguistic and nonlinguistic facts will be exemplified with selected languages spoken in Europe and on other continents.

Modernist European Drama

Timothy Williams, PhD

Target programmes: FA, FAC, ELTIT, and ESLC = all programmes covered in this page

The first two decades of the twentieth century represent a transitional stage in European drama between 19th century realism and the avant-garde currents that would define the interwar and postwar years. This course invites students to explore a sample of the rich variety of experimental plays that emerged in that period, to discover how many of our own contemporary preoccupations they reflect, while also attempting to grasp their historical context and grappling with the definitions of modernity and modernism. Students will read 19 plays, beginning with Sophocles' Oedipus and the medieval Everyman as indispensable points of reference:

Week 1: Introduction
Week 2: Oedipus Rex; Aristotle’s Poetics (excerpts)
Week 3: Everyman; Salome (Wilde, 1893)
Week 4: When We Dead Awaken (Ibsen, 1899)
Week 5: A Dream Play (Strindberg, 1901); Sacred Blood (Gippius, 1900)
Week 6: The Lower Depths (Gorky, 1902); Riders of the Sea (Synge, 1904)
Week 7: On Baile's Strand (Yeats, 1903); A Puppet Show (Blok, 1906)
Week 8: The Stranger (Blok, 1907); The Blue Bird (Maeterlinck, 1908)
Week 9: The Triumph of Death (Sologub, 1908); Helen of Sparta (Verhaeren, 1912)
Week 10: The Rose and the Cross (Blok, 1913); The Green Ring (Gippius, 1914)
Week 11: He Who Gets Slapped (Andreyev, 1915)
Week 12: At the Hawk's Well (Yeats, 1916)
Weeks 13-14: Scene presentations
Week 15: Final summing-up

Each week, the lecturer will provide some contextual background, after which (starting the third week) a student (or pair of students) will lead a discussion of the play(s) read that week for homework. Over the course of the semester, in addition to reading the plays and being prepared to discuss them, students will 1) write a 1-2 paragraph response to each play immediately after reading it; 2) write a short paper (600-700 words) comparing or contrasting one of the plays with either another work by the same author or a recorded performance of the play; 3) write a term paper (1500 words) dealing with a topic such as the representation of women (or men) in one or more of the plays, the use of religious, pre-modern or non-realistic elements, variations in narrative structure, etc. (or a topic proposed by the student and approved by the teacher). Students will also 4) work together in small groups outside of class to prepare a scene from one of the plays which they will perform for the class during one of the final meetings. English texts and occasional additional critical materials will be provided by the lecturer, and Russian texts of the Russian plays will be made available on request, for those interested.

Selected bibliography

Good, Maeve. (1987) W. B. Yeats and the Creation of a Tragic Universe. London: The Macmillan Press, Ltd.
Green, Michael. (2013) Russian Symbolist Theater: An Anthology of Plays and Critical Texts. Ann Arbor: Ardis.
Hyde, Isabel. (1963) “The Tragic Flaw: Is it a Tragic Error?” The Modern Language Review, Vol. 58, No. 3, pp. 321-325
Moi, Toril. (2006) Henrik Ibsen and the Birth of Modernism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Sheppard, Richard. (2000) Modernism. Dada. Postmodernism. Evanston: Northwestern University Press.
Symons, Arthur. (1919) The Symbolist Movement in Literature. New York: E.P. Dutton & Company.
Westphalen, Timothy C. (2003) Aleksandr Blok’s Trilogy of Lyric Dramas. New York: Routledge.

Exploring word meanings: Lexical resources in the digital age

dr Sylwia Wojciechowska

Target programmes: FA, FAC, and ELTIT but not ESLC

This is an introductory course into the lexicon of English explored from the viewpoint of lexical semantics, lexicology and lexicography. The focus of this proseminar is word meaning as conceptualized in our mind, understood in context, and represented in dictionaries and other lexical resources available online. We will be discussing different relations that exist between word senses, such as synonymy, antonymy, polysemy and homonymy, as well as metaphor and metonymy – the cognitive processes that lead to polysemy. Our interest will not only be single words but also multi-word expressions, among them collocations and idioms. The seminar will deal with different types of dictionaries, both monolingual and bilingual, general-purpose and specialized ones. Another theme will be language corpora. Students will become familiar with the notion of a corpus, and will practise using various corpora. The future of dictionaries will also be considered in view of the application of generative AI in lexicography (ChatGPT), which is already happening. The reading assignments selected for the proseminar will comprise chapters from handbooks as well as papers from academic journals, and they will be supplemented with video presentations given by prominent linguists.