Summer School 2018 / Foto: Ye Fung Tchen

Current Topics in International Cultural Studies

Das Kursangebot 2020 umfasst fünf spannende Kurse, die sich aus verschiedenen geistes­wissenschaft­lichen Perspektiven mit dem Rahmenthema beschäftigen. Alle Kurse werden von internationalen Expertinnen und Experten unterrichtet, die wir größtenteils eigens für die Summer School zu uns eingeladen haben.

Ihr individuelles Programm

Aus den fünf Kursen können Sie bis zu zwei in beliebiger Kombination wählen und so bis zu 12 ECTS erwerben. Alle Kurse entsprechen vollen Seminaren, wie Sie auch während eines regulären Semesters unterrichtet würden – stellen Sie sich also auf drei intensive Programmwochen ein! In der Regel lassen sich unsere Kurse an Ihren Heimat­universitäten als Seminare anrechnen und so in Ihr Studium integrieren.

Für Mannheimer Studierende in Bachelor-Studien­gängen der Philosophischen Fakultät haben wir die Anrechnungs­möglichkeiten hier zusammengestellt.

Hinweis: Das Kursangebot im folgenden finden Sie ausschließlich in Englisch - Programm- und Unterrichtssprache während der Summer School ist Englisch.

Course Offer 2020

Course 1
World Theatre
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Course 2
Language Policy and Planning in Multicultural Societies
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Course 3
Shakespeare on Screen: Transcultural Transpositions of Hamlet
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Course 4
Perception and Cognition: Core Problems, Research Frameworks, and Theories
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Course 5
Possible Worlds, Virtual Reality: Robots, Artificial Intelligence, and Human Enhancement in US-American Fiction and Film
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  • Course 1: World Theatre

    The academic content of the course is the exploration of World Theatre. As this subject is theoretically endless (as famously described by Peter Brook in his book The Empty Space), World Theatre is an introductory course that is necessarily selective – while always pointing to further horizons for students to explore on their own. The course itself is great preparation for doing so.

    World Theatre examines wildly varying plays from wildly varying cultures, with a particular emphasis on the modern and contemporary. Our close reading of actual plays – presenting diverse theatrical forms, traditions, styles, and themes – is complemented with a study of their respective cultural contexts: how the two interact is at the heart of this course.

    At the same time, World Theatre recognises the limits of any particular example; there is no such thing as ‘a typical Brazil play’ or ‘a typical Japanese play’ any more than there is ‘a typical German play’. Within a culture there are, however, shared histories and prevailing traditions that each of its playwrights must reckon with, even if they wish to dismantle a tradition or innovate upon it. We will explore many such crucial examples, from a wide variety of cultures.

    The course begins with the biggest possible questions, such as ‘what is theatre?’ Geography structures our journey through theatrical cultures in Asia, Oceania, the Middle East, Africa, Europe, the Caribbean, South America, and North America.

    The course will include classes on:

    • African-American Theatre (A Raisin in the Sun, Lorraine Hansberry; Fences, August Wilson)
    • British Theatre (Top Girls, Caryl Churchill)
    • Cuban-American Theatre (Anna in the Tropics, Nilo Cruz)
    • Egyptian Theatre (Short plays by Alfred Farag)
    • German Theatre (The Caucasian Chalk Circle, Bertolt Brecht)
    • Irish Theatre (Purgatory, WB Yeats; The Weir, Conor McPherson)
    • Japanese Theatre (Tadanor of the theatre Noh; Thread Hell, Kishida Rio)
    • Latin American Theatre (Death and the Maiden, Ariel Dorfman)
    • LGBTQ+ Theatre (Angels in America, Tony Kushner)
    • Nigerian Theatre (The Strong Breed, Wole Soyinka)
    • South African Theatre (‘Master Harold’… and the Boys, Athol Fugard)

    Selections from secondary materials, such as Augusto Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed or Peter Brook’s The Empty Space, will also be included.


    Course Instructor: Prof. Nicholas Pierpan, Royal Holloway, University of London


  • Course 2: Language Policy and Planning in Multicultural Societies

    Drawing upon our own experiences of the socio-cultural importance of language, this course will explore the intricate link between language planning and language policy in different multicultural societies and contexts and endeavor to demonstrate the opportunities and challenges that emerge therefrom.

    The course will describe and examine the implementation of language and/or cultural policies in various sociolinguistic contexts. Throughout the course, due consideration will be given to the application of the theoretical knowledge gained to real world situations. The course will focus on what language politics consists of, how it operates, its history, and the various ways in which it can be studied empirically and theoretically at different levels: globally, nationally and locally. Typical questions that will guide the conversations during seminars are:

    • How did English become a world language?
    • Why is English the only official language in a multilingual country like Namibia?
    • What does the linguistic landscape of the University of Mannheim tell us about its language policy?
    • Which languages do you prefer to use with family, friends, in school, when acessing public services, and on social media etc.?
    • What can be done to improve the visibility and sociolinguistic status of minority and endangered languages?

    In addressing questions such as these, the seminars will delve into topics such as:

    • the legal status of languages and language rights;
    • The relations­hip between Languages of Wider Communication and Languages of Limited Communication in different sociolinguistic contexts;
    • the relations­hip between language attitudes and ideologies and language policy and language planning;
    • the interrelations between globalisation, nationalism, ethnicity, identity and language policy;
    • linguistic ecology;
    • language in education;
    • language and cultural shift;
    • language vitality;
    • language maintenance;
    • multilingualism as a resource rather than a problem;
    • language minoritisation and endangerment;
    • linguistic landscapes;
    • linguistic markets;
    • translanguaging;
    • language standardization in different societies.


    The main texts on language planning and language policy that will be used for this seminar are:

    • Ricento, T. 2006. Language policy: Theory and practice: An introduction. New York: Maiden, Blackwell.
    • Shohamy, E. 2006. Language policy: Hidden agendas and new approaches. London and New York: Routledge.
    • Spolsky, B. 2004. Language Policy. UK: Cambridge University Press.
    • Spolsky B. (Ed) (2012). The Cambridge Handbook of Language Policy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    • Mesthrie, R., Swann, J., Deumert, A. & Leap, W. (Eds). 2000. Introducing sociolinguistics. Edinburg: Edinburgh University.

    Some relevant articles (case studies)

    • Ningning, H. 2018. Literature Review of Language Planning and Language Policy since 21st Century. Theory and Practice in Language Studies 8 (7): 888-892.
    • Kadenge, M. & Nkomo, D. (2011). The politics of the English language in Zimbabwe, Language Matters 42:2, 248-263.
    • Sinfree B. Makoni , Busi Dube & Pedzisai Mashiri (2006) Zimbabwe Colonial and Post-Colonial Language Policy and Planning Practices, Current Issues in Language Planning, 7(4): 377-414.
    • Hult, FM. 2009. Language ecology and linguistic landscape analysis. In Shohamy, E & D Gorter (Eds), Linguistic landscape: expanding the scenery. New York: Routledge. 88-104.



    Course Instructor: Prof. Maxwell Kadenge, University of the Witwatersrand


  • Course 3: Shakespeare on Screen: Transcultural Transpositions of Hamlet

    Hamlet is Shakespeare’s most famous tragedy and still worldwide stage and screen transposed. This seminar intends to explore the passage from script to screen, and to compare several film adaptations, from various periods of times (running from 1948 to 2000) and various cultural approaches (English, Italian, American, Russian).

    Focusing (with a close-reading approach) on key scenes in the tragedy (the uncanny apparition of Hamlet’s father’s ghost; the enco­unter between Hamlet and Ophelia orchestrated by eavesdropping Polonius and Claudius; the ‘mousetrap’ to catch the conscience of the murderer; the confrontation between Hamlet and his ‘lustful’ mother; Ophelia’s madness and drowning; the gravediggers’ scene; the final sword fight between Hamlet and Laertes) in the films by Laurence Olivier (1948), Grigori Kozintsev (1964), Franco Zeffirelli (1990), Kenneth Branagh (1996) and Michael Almereyda (2000), this seminar will invite a
    comparative approach.

    Both socio-political stakes and aesthetics choices will be taken into account, so as 1) to analyse timeless notions such as dread, fratricide, regicide, revenge, intelligence, repudiation, action, sacrifice and madness, and 2) to see how film directors both adapt a play dating back to 1600 to their own cultural context and time, while still transmitting its timeless pieces of thought on human nature.

    Selected Bibliography:

    • CONROY MOORE, Tiffany Ann, Kozintsev’s Shakespeare Films, Jefferson/London, McFarland, 2012.
    • CROWL, Samuel, Screen Adaptations: Shakespeare’s Hamlet. The Relation between Text and Film, London, Bloomsbury, coll. « Arden Shakespeare », 2014.
    • CROWL, Samuel, Shakespeare and Film: A Norton Guide, New York, Norton, 2008.
    • HATCHUEL, Sarah, VIENNE-GUERRIN, Nathalie, (eds.), Shakespeare on Screen: Hamlet, Mont-Saint-Aignan, Publications des universités de Rouen et du Havre, 2011.
    • HINDLE, Maurice, Shakespeare on Film, Second Edition, London, Palgrave McMillan, 2015.
    • JACKSON, Russel (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare on Film, Second Edition, Cambridge, CUP, 2012.
    • SHAKESPEARE William, Hamlet, ed. G.R. Hibbard, The Oxford Shakespeare, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1994.
    • STAM, Robert (ed.), New Vocabulary in Film Semiotics, London, Routledge, 1992.

    Selected Filmography:

    • ALMEREYDA, Michael, Hamlet. The Denmark Corporation, 2000 (Ethan Hawke is H).
    • BRANAGH, Kenneth, Hamlet, 1996 (Kenneth Branagh is H).
    • KOZINTSEV, Grigori, Hamlet, 1964 (Innokenti Smoktounovski is H).
    • OLIVIER, Laurence, Hamlet, 1948 (Lawrence Olivier is H).
    • ZEFFIRELLI, Franco, Hamlet, 1990 (Mel Gibson is H).


    Course Instructor: Prof. Pascale Drouet, University of Poitiers

    Please note: This course will take place between June 20 and July 4. During the last week of the Summer School, students of this class may focus on their other coursework and/or are encouraged to participate in individual sessions of course 5.


  • Course 4: Perception and Cognition: Core Problems, Research Frameworks, and Theories

    In this course, an introduction to Cognition and Perception will be provided both from the perspective of theoretical frameworks and applications and methods. The course will explore core processes in perception and cognition and will highlight some of the most prominent problems in the current research. The underlying motivation of this course is to show how external (incoming/input) information is transformed into knowledge (in the broadest sense of the word; i.e., cognitive representation). Cognitive representation will be introduced as the main theoretical concept in cognitive and perception sciences. Different types of cognitive representations will be defined and some of the theoretical and empirical discussions and controversies will be discussed.


    • Bechtel, W., Graham, G., & Balota, D. A. (Eds.). (1998). A companion to cognitive science. Oxford: Blackwell.
    • Friedenberg, J., & Silverman, G. (2011). Cognitive science: An introduction to the study of mind. Sage.
    • Palmer, S. E. (1999). Vision science: Photons to phenomenology. MIT press.
    • Rogers, B. (2017). Perception: A very short introduction. Oxford University Press.
    • Wilson, R. A., & Keil, F. C. (Eds.). (2001). The MIT encyclopedia of the cognitive sciences. MIT press.

    Course Instructor: Prof. Jurgis Skilters, University of Latvia

  • Course 5: Possible Worlds, Virtual Reality: Robots, Artificial Intelligence, and Human Enhancement in US-American Fiction and Film

    At a time when artificial intelligence, intelligent machines, and the internet of things no longer belong to the realm of science fiction, it seems to be urgent to investigate virtual reality and how possible forms of “intelligence” or “cognition” have been imagined by writers and thinkers. As has been argued, a large amount of what science has discovered and technology has developed had already been imagined before. Thus, science fiction and other literary forms of imaginative inquiry into what is possible are important resources for thinking about what our future might look like. We will read a significant text by Jorge Luis Borges about how the world might look like if completely different premises were in force, read short stories that fictionally test how neural networks, androids, and intelligent machines in general might interact with people, and also read about possible enco­unters with aliens of all kinds of sorts. We will discuss science fiction stories, some of them analyzed in Steven Shaviro’s Discognition (2015), and also films such as Ex Machina,Her, Arrival, and Blade Runner.


    • Borges, José Luis. “John Wilkins’s Analytical Language” (1942).
    • Chiang, Ted. The Lifecycle of Software Objects. Burton, MI: Subterrean Press, 2010.
    • Danielson, Dennis Richard, ed. The Book of the Cosmos: Imagining the Universe from Heraclitus to Hawking. Cambridge, MA: Perseus, 2000.
    • Finn, Ed. What Algorithms Want: Imagination in the Age of Computing. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2017.
    • Floridi, Luciano. The Fourth Revolution: How the Infosphere is Reshaping Human Reality. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2014.
    • Frankish, Keith, and William M. Ramsey, eds. The Cambridge Handbook of Artificial Intelligence. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2014.
    • Gleick, James. The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood. New York: Vintage, 2011.
    • Hayles, Katherine N. Unthought: The Power of the Cognitive Unconscious. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2017.
    • McEwan, Ian. Machines Like Me. London. Jonathan Cape, 2019.
    • Powers, Richard. Galatea 2.2. New York: Picador / Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1995.
    • Shaviro, Steven. Discognition. London: Repeater, 2015.
    • Watts, Peter. Blindsight. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2008.


    • Garland, Alex, dir. Ex Machina. (2014)
    • Jonze, Spike, dir. Her (2014)
    • Scott, Ridley, dir. Blade Runner (1982)
    • Villneuve, Denis, dir. Arrival (2016)


    Course Instructor: Prof. Ulfried Reichardt, University of Mannheim

I chose this Summer School because the course content looked fascinating. As an English Literature student, my degree can potentially benefit from any outside enrichment, as it is highly intertextual. I believed (correctly!) that the course I chose would be a great supplement. Beyond the course, though, the Mannheim Summer School was a wonderful way of meeting all sorts of people from all sorts of countries and backgrounds. I've been blessed with some amazing friends and I now have some fantastic memories that I will treasure. One word to future participants - do not underestimate the workload! These are serious courses. The more work you put in, the more reward you'll get out!

Hannah Bailey, University of Surrey / Foto: Ye Fung Tchen

I decided to join the Mannheim Summer School primarily because I badly needed new academic perspectives. But I found much more than that. Besides studying a completely new area – not just for me, but objectively new – I found a new passion, something that I can actually do for life, something very practical. And the cosmopolitan atmosphere of the city only facilitates this self-discovery. Furthermore, the University of Mannheim does a great job organizing both curriculum and off-school activities. My memories of this summer will linger for a long time, and I hope I will return some day.

Arseny Ermolovich, Belarusian State University / Foto: Ye Fung Tchen

The Summer School at the University of Mannheim was a great experience! In the two courses I chose, I learned far more than I had expected. We had small classes whereby the intellectual exchange between professor and students, but above all amongst students, was given a lot of attention. We acquired new knowledge together as a group and from my point of view, this is the best way to learn something new. Therefore, I gathered new perspectives that not only serve me in my future academic life but also in my personal life. Now, I can understand many phenomena like for example, globalisation and the digital revolution in a better way and critically reflect on it. I also met some new friends from countries from all over the world which I will meet in Amsterdam in short again. It is great to meet so many open-minded people from different countries and learn from each other.

Claudia Vitt, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam / Foto: Ye Fung Tchen