Fall 2023 - POL 325 D100

Language and Politics (4)

Class Number: 7527

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Sep 6 – Dec 5, 2023: Thu, 10:30 a.m.–12:20 p.m.

  • Prerequisites:

    Six lower division units in political science or permission of the department.



Explores the relationship between language and politics, including the relations of power that shape the choice of state language(s), the origins and effects of language regimes, the politics of linguistic minorities and concerns relating to linguistic justice and equality. Students with credit for POL 329 Selected Topics in Canadian Government and Politics under the title Language and Politics may not take this course for further credit.


Aristotle once wrote that human beings were naturally political animals because they possessed speech (logos), which elevated them above concerns of mere survival. Human beings could therefore deliberate together on issues of justice and engage in the highest form of life, political life. We Moderns seem to have lost this exalted sense of political life. Yet language remains. It is still what binds us to political community. It is the basic medium through which politics is made possible. The aim of this course is to take the connection between language and politics seriously. Some of the questions we will ask include: What is language? How does language relate to power and political reality? How is language governed, by whom, and according to what criteria? How is it used as a political tool or weapon? How does it constitute the political world and how does politics, in turn, shape it? Throughout the course, we will explore many of the different ways and contexts in which language and politics converge. We will discuss Indigenous languages and cultures in Canada, theories of linguistic community and the nation-state, the linguistic structure of ideologies, propaganda, free speech, the role of language in fascist and totalitarian politics, the role of language in liberal democracies, and the function of political concepts. Students will develop the skills to analyze political speeches and texts.


  • In-Class Test 20%
  • Representation in Media Assignment 20%
  • Critical Film Review 20%
  • Participation 15%
  • Final Essay 25%



All course readings are available on Canvas in PDF form.

In addition, you will be required to access and watch the following film in order to complete the course:

  1. They Live (dir. John Carpenter, 1988).

*It can be rented for $4.99 on Google Play or YouTube. 


Your personalized Course Material list, including digital and physical textbooks, are available through the SFU Bookstore website by simply entering your Computing ID at: shop.sfu.ca/course-materials/my-personalized-course-materials.

Department Undergraduate Notes:

The Department of Political Science strictly enforces a policy on plagiarism.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity website http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating. Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the university community. Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the university. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the university. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Students with a faith background who may need accommodations during the semester are encouraged to assess their needs as soon as possible and review the Multifaith religious accommodations website. The page outlines ways they begin working toward an accommodation and ensure solutions can be reached in a timely fashion.