Cultural Sutdies and Europe
Cultural Studies and Europe
or the Reality of the Virtuality

Language, Multilingualism, Images, Number Systems

switch to German

In 1997 the Research Institute for Austrian and International Literature and Cultural Studies (INST) invited a television station to report on the conference "European Literature and Linguistic Studies". The answer was, "No thank you. It wouldn't be visually spectacular enough." It appears then that cultural studies face a problem these days in being language based. Organisations other than INST have had similar experiences. However language based media haven't all disappeared since the advent of television, though it's true that the print media increasingly utilise pictures.

Numbers, the basis of all computer software, are even less spectacular. They have been replaced by icons, which allow the user to operate the machine without knowing how it actually functions.

However, one cannot understand numbers or images unless one can interpret them in language.  Whether one speaks of icons or television images - at the very least, the viewer must resort to language if he has to or wants to  deal with malfunctions which may arise. The problem is not, then, that language has lost its significance. Rather the problem arises from mental structures  which rely on the belief that  complex processes can be reduced to simple symbols.  As efficient as this time and again may be, it is useless in the comprehension of complex cultural processes.

As the exhibition "Cultural Studies and Europe" is to be understood as a "Language Exhibition", it will endeavour to represent this field of science in an appropriate form. Clearly this involves just as many problems. These go beyond the difficulty that  the exhibition may be visually unspectacular.  Language is always bound to culture. There appears to be equivalent terms for words such as "nation", "culture" and "science" in other languages. In reality a word such as "Nation" in German carries differing meanings in English, "nation", and in the French, "nation", for example. Furthermore, when scholars agree to use a single language, but have different cultural backgrounds, their use of a word in the agreed language may carry  different meanings.

An endeavour must be made not to destroy the basis of understanding through linguistic criticism, but to create understanding. This can only occur  when the need for a certain contextual linguistic fuzziness (Bhatti) is recognised. (This occurs in the context of the exhibition and should be taken into account in discourse.)

There ensue numerous implications for translation and linguistic development.

Cultural concepts
Reality and Virtuality
About the Exhibition

Does Europe exist?
Information Structures
Structures of Research
Cultural Studies on the WWW
Cultural Processes
European Policies, Civil Societies
Education and Scholarship
"Culture of Peace"
Cultural Exchange
Financing Research

© INST: Research Institute for Austrian and International Literature and Cultural Studies, 1998