The History of the English Language Course: A Cross-disciplinary Approach to the Humanities
Through a study of the history of the English language, students can become aware of major issues in several academic fields, including history, literature, political science, anthropology, communication, economics, the arts, and, of course, languages and linguistics. As it happens, the formal study of English language history is generally directed by linguists who may not be thoroughly knowledgeable, even if interested, in other fields. The textbooks commonly used in courses in the history of the English language may provide little help with cross-disciplinary concerns. Regardless of the instructor's breadth of knowledge, the students themselves bring their own set of interests to the course, and the curiosity of the students for their already existing interests can be exploited to broaden the course and to help students see connections between methodologies and subjects. With carefully designed assignments — perhaps using the assistance of colleagues in other fields — an instructor can make a course in the history of the English language a catalyst for learning in a variety of academic areas.
Keywords: History of the English Language, Linguistics, Cross-disciplinary studies
Dr. Michael Dressman
Professor of English, English Department, University of Houston-Downtown