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Intercultural Competence

Concepts, Challenges, Evaluations


Edited By Arnd Witte and Theo Harden

This book explores the idea of ‘intercultural competence’, which, despite its current popularity across various discourses, has remained a vague and oscillating concept. Interculture lacks a universal definition and ‘competence’ is not only a cognitive construct but also includes psychological traits such as attitudes, affective aspects and constructions of identity. The essays in this volume approach the complexity of the concept from a number of different angles. These include theoretical models for defining the concept of ‘intercultural competence’, outlining paths for future research; application of the concept in the teaching and learning of foreign languages, cultures and literatures; exploration of institutional and sociocultural influences on mediating intercultural competence; and analysis of the concept’s impact on such diverse contexts as international business, religious constructs and notions of selfhood and identity. The volume develops a broad range of perspectives on intercultural competence, providing stimulating new ideas, reflections and models around this important concept.


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Part 4 Intercultural Competence and the Role of Literature 437


Part 4 Intercultural Competence and the Role of Literature Marketa Goetz-Stankiewicz Intercultural Competence: A Mirror for Literature? Some Thoughts on Václav Havel’s Play Unveiling/ Vernissage in Two Guises The Czech/French writer Milan Kundera wrote that a small nation has a particular type of provincialism that he defines as ‘hold[ing] world cul- ture in high esteem but feel[ing] it as something alien […] distant, inac- cessible’ (Kundera 2007: 37–38). He also wrote about the provincialism of large nations. But we will stay with the small ones. Imagine one such small nation that speaks a language which is very dif ficult to learn and, although right at the centre of Europe, found itself, for most of the second part of the twentieth century, as one of the satellites of the Soviet Empire, an alien region relegated to ‘Eastern Europe’ with its vague byzantine con- notations. Against the background of this obviously complicated cultural map, imagine one of this small country’s writers, a playwright, expressing himself in a language spoken by only ten million people, and moreover living a life under constant political pressure, unable to leave his country, having his writings banned, moving in and out of prison, but rarely into a theatre. Now narrow your focus once again on a certain period in his life, the 1970s, when he wrote some short plays, just ‘for his friends’ as he repeatedly told us, and had them read or performed by these friends on weekends in the – relative – calm garden...

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