Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 2 sessions / week, 1.5 hours / session

Course Description

This subject examines the paradoxes of contemporary globalization. Through lectures, discussions and student presentations, we will study the cultural, linguistic, social and political impact of globalization across broad international borders and on specific language communities. We will consider answers to key questions such as: What are the contending definitions of globalization? What are the principal agents of change? How have those agents of change been transformed in our contemporary world? What's new, what's hybrid, and what's traditional? What does it mean to be a world citizen? How can world citizens preserve cultural specificity?

21G.076 must be taken in conjunction with a language subject. You will be encouraged, through various activities, to share insights gained in your language subject with your peers who are studying different languages and cultures. We will pay attention to the subtle interplay of history, geography, language and cultural norms that gave rise to specific ways of life. The materials for the course include fiction, nonfiction, audio pieces, maps and visual materials.

Course Format

This subject is a "communication intensive" class. That means that, in our work together, you will receive instruction in formal speaking and academic writing, and you will have the opportunity to strengthen these skills in response to extensive feedback on the varied assignments. Each student will write two essays—at least four pages each—in the course of the term. For Essays 1 and 2, students will submit first versions that will be corrected and discussed individually before the final paper is due. Feedback on every draft will be given within the week in which papers are submitted so that students can produce the final essays in response to the feedback. In addition, students will submit four two-page response papers. You will learn and practice the art of giving oral presentations in speaking tasks scheduled throughout the semester and in final group project presentations.

Undergraduate HASS-CI subjects require at least 20 pages of writing divided assignments. Of these assignments, at least one must be revised and resubmitted. HASS CI subjects offer students substantial opportunity for oral expression, through presentations, student-led discussion, or class participation. In order to guarantee sufficient attention to student writing and substantial opportunity for oral expression, the maximum number of students per section in a HASS CI subject is 18, except in the case of a subject taught without sections (where the faculty member in charge is the only instructor). In that case, enrollments can rise to 25, if a writing fellow is attached to the subject.

Course Expectations

You are expected to do the following:

  1. Attend all classes since class discussion is central to the course. Unexcused absences will automatically lower your grade. Attendance is also required for special outings listed on your syllabus (performance by Group Saloum and Asian food court excursion).
  2. Prepare for class by reading, viewing and listening to the assigned material. Well-prepared students are crucial for the success of the class.
  3. View the film listed on the syllabus; it is an integral part of the course. It will be shown in the evening as indicated on the syllabus, and we will not have class on the day you are asked to see the film. Seeing the film on the "big screen" with fellow students is important. If, for some reason, you cannot attend the showing, please see one of the instructors to figure out how to plan a viewing time.
  4. Submit short response papers and longer essays as indicated on the syllabus. Due dates are indicated in red on the syllabus. Unless you have a convincing excuse, any late paper will lower your grade.
  5. Work in groups on a team-based project for the second half of the semester. We will distribute guidelines for the team presentation by the third week of the semester.
  6. Understand and practice academic integrity.
  7. Consult with one of us if, at any time during the semester, you find yourself having trouble with work for the class. Do not wait until the end when it is too late.
  8. Share with us any suggestions regarding any aspect of the course—contents, format, organization, assignments—by seeing us or by attaching a note to your papers.


The point value of each assignment (for a total of 100 points) follows:

Class attendance, participation and preparation 15%
Short two-page response papers (4 x 5 points) 20%
Longer 4-6 page essays (2 X 20 points) 40%
Team presentations 25%

What You Can Expect

You can expect us to be interested in you, your contributions and your interactions in the class. We will provide a stimulating and supportive environment in which to explore the themes of the course. We will provide timely feedback on your written and oral work. By the end of the semester, you can expect increased ease, fluency and appropriateness in written and oral expression; general insights into the complex interactions of geography, history, built environment, language and cultural norms; particular insights into these interactions with respect to your focus culture; and confidence to engage in informed debates on globalization in a wider arena.

Required Texts

The following books are available at the MIT Bookstore and in the Hayden Library.

Buy at Amazon Alvarez, Julia. How the García Girls Lost Their Accents. New York, NY: Plume, 1992. ISBN: 9780452268067.

Buy at Amazon Chanda, Nayan. Bound Together. How Traders, Preachers, Adventurers, and Warriors Shaped Globalization. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2008. ISBN: 9780300136234.

Buy at Amazon Sola, Liu. Chaos and All That. Honolulu, HI: University of Hawaii Press, 1994. ISBN: 9780824816513.

Buy at Amazon Chamoiseau, Patrick. School Days. Lincoln, NB: University of Nebraska Press, 1997. ISBN: 9780803263765.