Kies de Nederlandse taal
Course module: 880063-B-6
The Multicultural Individual
Course info
Course module880063-B-6
Credits (ECTS)6
CategoryBA (Bachelor)
Course typeCourse
Language of instructionEnglish
Offered byTilburg University; Tilburg School of Humanities and Digital Sciences; TSH: Department of Culture Studies; Culture Studies;
Is part of
B Communication and Information Sciences
B Culture Studies
PM Global Communication
Convenant TSH
Minor Online Culture: Global Communication
Minor Online Culture for CIS
prof. dr. A.M. Backus
Other course modules lecturer
Academic year2020
Starting block
SM 1
Course mode
RemarksCaution: this information is subject to change
Registration openfrom 20/08/2020 up to and including 20/08/2021

Knowledge: Students learn to understand how living in a globalized world affects everyone’s communicative repertoire.  They build on knowledge acquired from earlier courses, especially Language, Culture & Globalization, and gain more specific knowledge about multiculturalism, especially about its communicative and cultural implications. They acquire a culturally and linguistically informed perspective on how people learn and use the verbal and cultural resources they need to deal with the behavioral and communicative demands of living in a globalized environment, and on how multicultural realities are talked about and represented in media and artistic expression. They learn to see multiculturalism as characteristic of all behavior, and multilingualism as characteristic of all communication, not just when someone happens to have experience living in two countries or knows more than one language. They learn to identify theoretical concepts needed to study these phenomena and how to define them. At the end of the course, students have an overview of the various ways in which people acquire multicultural experience, of the behavioral, communicative and linguistic phenomena multiculturalism gives rise to, of the way in which these are represented in art and entertainment, and of theories that have been developed to account for them. Students will have been exposed to a scientific literature in linguistics, media studies, cultural studies and anthropology about relevant issues and have gained experience in critically approaching this literature. They learn to apply this knowledge to people’s behavioral and communicative repertoires, including their own, and become sensitive to the values of, and tensions between, the scientific goals of generalizing and of honoring the complexity of phenomena. Through relevant literature, some assignments and a small field project, they also learn how to analyze communicative and behavioral repertoires. 

Skills: Through a take-home exam and two assignments students practice a number of research skills. Successful completion will show they are able to communicate academic content clearly, to formulate a research topic, to select relevant literature, to derive critical conclusions from careful analysis of literature, to present findings orally in an attractive, concise and clear manner, to form a motivated opinion and communicate it, and to summarize findings from various sources in a comprehensive text, written in a suitable academic style. 

Character: Students practice cooperating in a small team, learn to write a critical review in an appropriate and professional style, and to process feedback.



Students do a take-home exam at the end of the class, which counts for 35% of the final grade. Second, each student writes an academic paper about one of the topics covered in class, for which additional literature needs to be found. This too counts for 35% of the final grade. Third, each student writes a review of a piece of art or entertainment (e.g. a movie, an album, an artists's ouevre, a novel, a sitcom, etc.). The grade for this review counts for 30% of the final grade. Fourth, students take part in a group assignment. Each group of four students reads four interrelated articles, debates among themselves what they are about, prepares a presentation for the rest of the class (research questions, methods of research, findings, main conclusions), and each student writes a short summary of one of the papers. This assignment is not graded. Finally, each student writes a short essay by way of warm-up exercise about the presence of different languages and cultures in his or her life. This assignment is also not graded. The review will be uploaded in Diggit Magazine.


From our moment of birth, and throughout life, we come into contact with many different ways of communicating and behaving. As you get older, the diversity of behaviors, interests, languages, and ways of communicating, as well as the diversity of social and cultural settings to which you adapt your behavior, multiply, making your communicative and cultural repertoire ever more complicated. Some aspects of language and culture you end up mastering to a more or less perfect degree, others only to a smaller extent. This class is about how we build up and use our multicultural communicative and behavioral repertoires. Most people in the world are multicultural and multilingual. However, this is not simply a matter of having two or more cultures existing side-by-side. Cultures as we generally talk about them are imprecise abstractions that ignore much of the subtle variation between people and the complexity of their repertoires. Someone may simultaneously be part of Dutch culture, middle class culture, adolescent male culture, White culture, and football culture. The focus in this class will be on how all this cultural variation manifests itself in everyday life and in artistic representations of it, e.g. in TV sitcoms or in novels, how it is studied, and how it can be accounted for. Basically, people’s repertoires contain the linguistic and cultural resources they need for the life they lead, including resources they may have needed in the past but do not need anymore. Their biography as well as their identity can be read off their repertoire. This holds not just for what is or is not included in the repertoire, but also for how well it is mastered. You learn what you need, but you don't always have access to what you need: in that case inequality is exposed.

The course will look in greater detail at how people put their multicultural repertoires to use in everyday life and at what the long-term consequences are in terms of cultural and linguistic changes. Special attention will be given to the representation of these phenomena in art, especially in popular art forms like literature, TV series and movies and in art that has educational functions, such as children’s literature.   

The course will discuss various theories that attempt to account for multicultural phenomena, with roots in linguistics, cultural studies, and behavioral studies (especially cultural anthropology, media studies and social psychology). The take-home message will be that culturally relevant behavior always involves properties of the mind, since behavioral choices are cognitively driven, and properties of sociality, since all our behavior takes place in a social context involving other people.

Course available for exchange students
Conditions of admission apply
Contact person
prof. dr. A.M. Backus
Timetable information
The Multicultural Individual
Required materials
Recommended materials
Assignment 30%

Take Home Exam 35%

Final Result

Paper 35%

Kies de Nederlandse taal