First-year of study M.A. theme seminars (1MA THEME) for summer term 2023–2024 (Full-time programmes)

What is this list?

This is a list of theme seminars we intend to launch in the summer term (February–June) in our full-time M.A. programme in English philology (Filologia angielska) and our programme in Language, Mind, Technology whose first 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 first year of their full-time M.A. programme: this is your reference point before your enrolment into theme seminars;
  2. Candidates for our full-time programmes: this list gives you a snapshot of what theme proseminars were on offer for the study cycle that started in 2023.

How to navigate the list?

The list is sorted by name of the teacher. The format is as follows: the title of the theme seminar, the name of the teacher, and the description of the theme seminar.

A History of American Capitalism

Prof. Jeff Bremer

This course is a chronological overview of the history of American capitalism, explaining how the United States grew from a colony of the British empire to the world’s largest economy. This class reviews the causes of economic growth from the Revolution through the twenty-first century and its negative and positive effects. It focuses on the opportunities for economic improvement provided by a free market system, as well as its consequences, from racial exploitation to environmental destruction. In short, the class provides an overview of the growth of the American economy from Benjamin Franklin to Walmart and Amazon.

We will examine how economic change has affected ordinary Americans, including enslaved people, farmwomen, Native Americans, immigrants, and factory workers. Topics include the transportation and industrial revolutions, agriculture, slavery and segregation, urbanization, the rise of big business, the impact of the World Wars and the Cold War, globalization, financial crises, and economic inequality.

Multicultural Canada

prof. UAM dr hab. Dagmara Drewniak

This seminar will be devoted to the study and discussion of the most important facts, myths and ideas concerning Canadian history, culture, and literature. In order to illustrate the problems we will also read and discuss a few poems and novel(s) by Canadian authors in order to give students interested in the widely understood field of literary and cultural studies (as well as others) a possibility to supplement and broaden their knowledge. The overall aim of the seminar is to familiarize students with the literary tradition of multicultural Canada. This concept of multicultural Canada is going to be rendered through a selection of works which vary in style, subject-matter and origin of their authors allowing students to appreciate the diversity of CanLit. A range of topics is going to be taken into consideration and reflected in the selected texts and in-class discussions, among them: national mythology, feminism, multiculturalism, postmodernism and postcolonialism, and cross-diasporic encounters.

Selected aspects of language acquisition

prof. dr hab. Katarzyna Dziubalska-Kołaczyk

The theme of the seminar is directed towards the students interested in the ‘mystery’ of language acquisition, with special focus on sounds and sound sequences (but not excluding other components of language).

We will start with an overview of the major approaches to the study of language acquisition of both first language and further languages (SLA, TLA). In the next step, we will acquaint ourselves briefly with the reasons for the diversity of the languages of the world. With this background we will move on to reading and discussing in class several papers published over the recent years selected to illustrate a variety of aspects of the acquisition process.

The participants will choose a paper from the proposed selection to read and present in class.

As a general starting reference, see e.g.
Cook, Vivian. Linguistics and Second Language Acquisition: One Person with Two Languages. The Handbook of Linguistics. Aronoff, Mark and Janie Rees-Miller (eds). Blackwell Publishing, 2002.

Language and (bilingual) cognition

prof. UAM dr hab. Anna Ewert

This course will focus on selected aspects of the relationship between language and general cognition. We will primarily focus on bilingual cognition, although some research conducted with monolingual participants might also be included.

The main part of the course will focus on two types of relationships between language and cognition: 1) cognitive processes related to linguistic processing, and 2) cognitive processes related to different linguistic categorizations. Research on the first type of relationship often focuses on lexical processing, language switching, as well as domain-general processes, such as executive attention. The second type of relationship is sometimes referred to as the relation between language and thought, and includes a variety of theoretical approaches, such as linguistic relativity, thinking for speaking and language embodiment. As research on bilingual cognition has been developing dynamically over the recent years, sometimes producing contradictory results, we will also look at a variety of individual and contextual factors affecting bilingual outcomes. In addition to reading empirical research reports, we will also look at selected examples of other types of research publications, including meta-analyses of published research.

Course evaluation will be based on: active participation in class discussions, reading the assigned research, delivering presentations in class and a final quiz.

Gender variation in the use of Polish grammar

prof. UAM dr hab. Agnieszka Kiełkiewicz-Janowiak

Sociolinguistics reveals the way speakers’ non-linguistic characteristics correlate with their linguistic choices. The patterns of language use as related to speaker gender have for decades been investigated by sociolinguists. There are certain aspects of grammatical systems which are used in gendered ways, i.e. their occurrence is gender-preferential. We will specifically look at the variation of future tense constructions in Polish as well as a few other grammatical features of the English language.

The seminar will involve some background reading as well as conducting fieldwork to reveal the gendered distribution of language forms. Thus, students will learn to select a methodology for a data collection task and an analytical approach to the data.

Geographies of the Imagination: Writing Space in English and Irish Literature

prof. dr hab. Liliana Sikorska

Literature has always been filled with description of spaces: hierarchy, opposition and intersections of places constituted the foundations of literary discourses. This seminar is devoted to the study of such “geographies of the imagination” based on the juxtapositions of sacred vs. profane, urban vs. rural, celestial vs. terrestrial spaces, protected vs. exposed. Our discussions will concern both lifelike as well as metaphorical significance of space in literature. During the seminars we will look at a number of genres such as travel narratives, spy/crime/terrorist fiction (and film), Gothic and realist fiction, and mystical writings to examine ways in which diverse writers present imaginative geographies.

Select Bibliography

Bachelard, Gaston. 1994. The Poetics of Space. [Translated by Maria Jolas]. Boston: Beacon Press.
Crang, Mike and Nigel Thrift (eds.). 2010 [2000]. Thinking Space. London: Routledge.
Soja, Edward. Postmodern Geographies. The Reassertion of Space in Critical Social Theory. London: Verso.