Intercultural Multilingualism, Literature and Creativity

This course is part of the programme
Master's Degree Programme Humanities Studies

Objectives and competences

to learn about concepts that are fundamental to the humanities, such as community, identity, symbol, creativity, cultural practice;
to acquire knowledge in understanding the emergence and transformation of communities along national and multicultural landscapes;
to learn about the phenomenon of language contact as a social and linguistic phenomenon from diachronic and synchronic perspectives;
to recognize and understand the linguistic influence between genetically related and unrelated languages;
to understand the historical and social causes of multilingualism of the population in different geographical areas, with emphasis on the cross-border area of the western Slovenian ethnic area;
knowledge of the historical, political, social, and cultural contexts for understanding and studying literary multilingualism, with emphasis on literature along the present-day Slovenian-Italian border;
knowledge of the specifics of the functioning of literary systems and subsystems in cross-border territories.
to understand the dynamics of literary contacts and cultural transfers in cross-border territories.

analysis and evaluation of relationships and meanings established between the bearers of cultural practices and symbols of identification (language, literature) through understanding of representation theory and affect theory;
ability to evaluate the direction of linguistic influence and of linguistic levelling in contact languages;
familiarity with problems in multilingual communities on the basis of acquired knowledge;
application of knowledge acquired in the course to the problems faced by border and multilingual communities;
sensitization to an understanding the emotional factors involved in literary multilingualism and language.


The course is linked to the following electives: Literary multilingualism in cross-border spaces, Sociolinguistics and Multiculturalism, Intercultural, Egalitarian and Sustainable Heritage, and Intercultural Creativity.


The creation of communities and collective symbols of identification is multi-layered and involves cross-border and cross-cultural landscapes. It also involves an in-depth understanding of the diverse historical experiences of borders and intercultural landscapes, the socio-political currents between global and local processes, and the life needs, survival strategies, and traditions that human life generates. The main goal of the course is to introduce students to the emergence and transformation of the meaning, role, and function of the major symbols of identification (i.e., in language, literature, tradition, ritual, etc.) specific to cross-border and intercultural landscapes.

The topic will treated from three general points of view:
The first focuses on the concepts of identity, identification practices, community, and symbols. By learning the theory of representation, students will understand how identification can be created and changed among members of a given community. Special emphasis is placed on understanding affect when personal feelings, community emotions, and various community responses are used to demonstrate the importance of the relationships that are created between cultural practitioners and their objects (language, literature, music, ritual).
The second part is devoted to the different types of language contact, the way languages interact when in contact, and to the typology of language interference as a result of language contact. The results of language contact depend on several factors, the most important of which are the duration and intensity of contact between groups, the nature of social, economic, and political relations between them, the functions of communication, and the degree of similarity between genetically related or unrelated languages.
The third part is devoted to literature. Students will focus on more modern literary works in the cross-border space and learn about various examples of literary multilingualism.

The understanding, familiarity with and evaluation of the theoretical starting points, concepts, identification practices and symbols involved will be based on examples of cross-border territories along today's Slovenian-Italian border and will be additionally discussed in seminars and field work. The main objective of the seminar will be to highlight the chosen theme from the interdisciplinary perspective and its methodologies (e.g. anthropology, linguistics and literary science).

Intended learning outcomes


Students will understand the main theories necessary for an in-depth analysis of community life from a historical perspective.
Students will learn the basic concepts of contact linguistics, i.e. language contact, types of language contact, multilingualism of individuals and groups, language interference, typology of language interference, language change.
They will learn about linguistic and non-linguistic factors of language influence in different social and societal settings.
They will understand the contexts of literary multilingualism and the related terminology.

Students will recognize the role, meaning, and function of the subject, object, and relationships that build, consolidate, and develop communities.
In analysing cultural practices from the border area along the western national border, they will be able to evaluate how the meaning and function of the symbol and has changed throughout history.
They will recognize different types of language contacts.
They will be able to analyse language interference at all levels of language.
They recognize the mechanisms that lead to language change.
Students will be able to recognize different levels of literary multilingualism in literary works.
Students will be able to explain the characteristics of literary systems in cross-border territories.
Students will be able to explain the mechanisms that lead to literary multilingualism.


  • Hall, S. (ur.) 2003. Representation: Cultural Representation and Signifying Practices. Sage, Milton Keynes: The Open University. Catalogue
  • Ule, Mirjana. 2000. Sodobne identitete: v vrtinci diskurzov. Ljubljana: Znastveno in publicistično središče. E-version
  • Tilley, Cristopher. 2006. Introduction: Identity, Landscape and Heritage. Journal of Material culture 11 (1/2):7-32.
  • Smith Laurajane; Wetherell, Margaret in Campbell, Gary: Emotion, Affective Practices, and the Past in the Present. London: Routledge, 2018. Catalogue
  • Aikhenvald, Alexandra Y. 2002: Language Contact in Amazonia. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Catalogue E-version
  • Raymond Hickey (ur.) 2020: The Handbook of Language Contact. Blackwell Handbooks in Linguistics. Catalogue E-version
  • Yaron Matras 2020: Language Contact. Cambridge: Cambridge Textbooks in Linguistics. Catalogue E-version
  • Sarah Thomason 2001: Language Contact - An Introduction. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. Catalogue E-version
  • Uriel Weinreich 1963: Languages in Contact. Findings and Problems. Valter de Gruyter. Catalogue E-version
  • Steven G. Kellman, 2003: Switching languages : translingual writers reflect on their craft. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. (Izbor, s poudarkom na teoretskih premislekih in komparativnih vidikih medkulturnih kontekstov./Selection, with emphasis on theoretical considerations and comparative aspects of intercultural contexts.) E-version Catalogue
  • Andrej Leben in Alenka Koron (ur.) 2021: Literarna večjezičnost v slovenskem in avstrijskem kontekstu. Ljubljana: ZRC SAZU. (Izbor, s poudarkom na teoriji večjezičnosti ter slovensko-italijanskem kontekstu./Selection, with emphasis on the theory of multilingualism and the Slovenian-Italian context.) Catalogue
  • Vilma Purič, 2020: Sodobne tržaške pesnice. Trst: Mladika. (Izbor na temo večjezičnih avtoric./Selection on the subject of multilingual authors.)Catalogue
  • Gabriele Zanello, 2020: Celso Macor, pesnik dialoga med kulturami Posočja.Goriški letnik : zbornik Goriškega muzeja. 171-188.
  • Jadranka Cergol, 2021: Čustveni vidiki pri izbiri jezikovnega koda slovenskih literarnih ustvarjalcev v Italiji. Razprave in version : revija za narodnostna vprašanja = Treatises and documents : journal of ethnic studies 233-252. E-version
  • Ana Toroš, 2021: Minority literature in the majority language : a new paradigm? : the case of the Slovenian poetry in Italy. Annales : anali za istrske in mediteranske študije = annali di Studi istriani e mediterranei = annals for Istrian and Mediterranean studies. Series historia et sociologia. 355-362. E-version
  • Selected discussions in Slovenian contact linguistics and a selection of literary works on literary multilingualism


3 colloquia on multilingualism, literary multilingualism, and creativity will be combined into a common final assessment.
Joint seminar paper.

Lecturer's references

Dr. Danila Zuljan Kumar is a researcher in the Dialectology Section of the Fran Ramovš Institute for the Slovenian Language at ZRC SAZU. She is devoted to Slovene dialectology, especially the study of the endangered Torre Valley dialect and the Natisone Valley and Collio dialects of the Littoral dialect group. Within this, she is particularly interested in the problems of linguistic contact between unrelated languages, i.e. between the West Slovenian dialects and their Romance neighbours. Recently, he has also focused on sociolinguistic issues in language contact, such as the relationship between identity(ies) and language(s) in multilingual societies. He is involved in the preparation of the Slovenian Linguistic Atlas.
In the years from 2010 to 2021, she was the head of the Research Station ZRC SAZU in Nova Gorica. In 2019 and 2020, she completed a four-month training at the University of Padua in Italy. Since 2017 she has been a member of the Slovenian-Italian Commission for the inscription of the Brda / Collio / Cuei region in the UNESCO list of cultural heritage. At the Faculty of Humanities of the University of Nova Gorica she teaches dialectology and sociolinguistics.

Dr. Ana Toroš is an associate professor and head of the Doctoral Programme in Humanities at the University of Nova Gorica. Her research focuses on comparative studies of minority literature, literary imagology, cross-border didactics of literature, studies of trauma and literature. Her research focuses on multicultural and multilingual literature in the border areas between Slovenia, Italy and Croatia (Trieste, Venetian Slovenia, Resia, Istria).