Character Building: A symposium on constructing character and identity in real and fictional worlds 2019
Sarah’s doctoral research focuses on the contentious and increasingly prevalent rhetoric of conspiracy theories. Neither pathologising and ridiculing, nor lauding as the path to truth, her approach aims to firmly transcend such bias. The research positions the explanations as a timeless rhetoric, constantly morphing in response to the ebbs and tides of cultural change, inviting the reader/ listener to become active primarily through assessing their plausibility. Through the lens of Critical Discourse Analysis, she aims to address how issues pertaining to morality and power are represented in conspiracy theories and, in turn, how this implicates the reader/ listener to accept, reject or merely entertain a particular narrative.
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Alice’s doctoral research uses a cognitive poetic approach to the study of humour in literature. She is developing a spatial model of humour that links the cognition of humour to its social distancing and cohesion effects. By examining humour in contemporary fictional texts, she aims to show how the linguistic construction of humour metaphorically displaces readers in a way that reflects the way humour affects their emotional proximity to or distance from characters in the text. More generally, she is interested in the way texts can affect the ideological positioning of readers and what causes readers to be responsive or resistant to the ideological impositions of a text.
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Leigh’s research is situated in the field of im/politeness research within applied pragmatics. Her thesis uses authentic spoken data from debt collection encounters to explore the complex facework at play in this context. She is interested in developing existing conceptions of face in ways that ensure they have real-world applications and implications so as to encourage an increased synthesis between linguistic theory and working practitioners.
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Lucy’s PhD research topic is empathy and literature – what is it that can make us feel real emotions for characters who don’t exist? Taking a cross-disciplinary approach involving stylistics, cognitive linguistics and social psychology, she hopes to further our understanding of the topic generally, and also to identify ways in which this increased understanding could be used to help motivate young readers.
Emma’s doctoral research combines corpus and multimodal critical discourse analysis approaches to examine how people living with dementia (as well as dementia as a topic) are visually and linguistically represented in British society. She is particularly interested in the various representations promoted by different policy makers and the press, and in how these relate to public conceptions of dementia. Within her research, she is keen to involve people living with dementia, their family/friends and members of the public to explore how people situate themselves within wider social discourses on dementia.
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Bernardo's PhD research comprises an investigation of style in the fiction of John Dos Passos. More specifically, he seeks to understand the semantic workings of Free Indirect Style and Interior Monologue in the texture of Dos Passos' novels by complementing conventional stylistic analysis with a consideration of literary criticism, empirically collected reader response data and manuscript revisions. His thesis is intended as a literary linguistic contribution to the wider resurgence of scholarly and critical interest in this author's often neglected oeuvre. More broadly, Bernardo is interested in matters of stylistics, narratology, poetics and experientiality.
Ella’s research centres on the language of children’s fiction, stylistically examining complex literary strategies that have traditionally been considered absent in such material. She aims to illustrate that children’s fiction is, in fact, rife with linguistic and structural complexity, drawing particular attention to postmodernism and metafiction – terms which are seldom associated with children’s books in existing criticism. By comparing contemporary popular Junior Fiction with texts commonly used to satisfy the National Curriculum, in conjunction with empirical research involving student interviews, Ella hopes to establish whether there is enough stylistic complexity in children’s fiction to warrant it being used in the classroom to help engage low-attaining students and so-called ‘Reluctant Readers’.
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PALA Conference 2018 - Birmingham Approaching the Historical: A Symposium on Early Modern and Medieval Stylistics (SEMMS) 2017 Stylistics Reading Group Symposium 2016 Real, ideal or implied…? The Reader in Stylistics 2014