CASS MA students to present at the Sheffield University Postgraduate Conference in Linguistics

A large part of an academic job is that researchers give formal talks about their work. This is something that all research students are aware of — we have been to countless lectures, heard visiting academics and experienced the talks organised by different research groups. So what happens when the tables are turned and students reach a point where they need to start formally presenting their own work?

In a word: panic. How do you write an abstract? How do you know if your work is good enough? How do you build up the confidence to give a formal talk in front of others? How do you know that, at the end of it all, your work won’t be ripped to pieces?

Abi Hawtin, Gillian Smith and I (all research students currently completing an MA in CASS) have recently been negotiating this minefield of questions. We decided to apply to present our papers at the two-day Sheffield University Postgraduate Conference in Linguistics 2015. This conference is a great ‘first-step’; it’s organised by postgraduate students for other postgraduate and doctoral students and, proud of the friendly and inclusive atmosphere at past events, they explicitly encourage first-time speakers. Opportunities like this also enable students from a range of universities to come together and discuss their experiences and interests. This results in a great variety of topics; for example, 2014 saw presentations on pragmatic language change, the Chinese V-V construction and challenges in making research transformative.

We’ve recently heard that all three of us have been accepted to present at the conference, so wish us luck. Below you can find out the topics of our research.

Construction of male and female identities by a misogynistic murderer: a corpus-based discourse analysis of Elliot Rodger’s manifesto by Abi Hawtin

On 23rd May 2014, Elliot Rodger killed 6 people and injured 13 others in California. He left behind an extreme and violently misogynistic ‘manifesto’ which outlined his views on women, and his plan to take revenge. I use corpus methods (collocation analysis) to analyse the ways in which Rodger constructs the identities of males and females in his manifesto in order to see if the way he views men and women represents a new, and more dangerous, type of misogyny than has previously been studied in detail.

Corpus methods have been used to analyse the representations of gender in language, with many studies finding that men are often represented in positions of power over women (Caldas-Coulthard and Moon, 2010; Pearce, 2008). However, there has been little corpus-based research into explicitly misogynistic texts. This corpus based study of Rodger’s manifesto addresses that gap in the research to date.

By conducting a collocation analysis for both words and semantic tags I found that the dominant way in which Rodger represented females was as extremely powerful and men as oppressed. This can be seen in the collocation of ‘experience’ with both males and females, where Rodger talks about women as controlling which men get to have sexual experiences, and can also be seen in the semantic collocates ‘undeserving’ and ‘able/intelligent’ which show Rodger representing women as deeming him ‘undeserving’ and other men as ‘able’ to have experiences which he cannot. This is in contrast to the sexism found in previous research and represents what is often referred to as a ‘new misogyny’. I suggest that this is the key difference between Rodger’s (ultimately murderous) views and sexist views rooted in traditional patriarchy. 

Tweet all about it: Public views on the UN’s HeForShe campaign for gender equality by Róisín Knight

On 20th September 2014, Emma Watson gave a speech through which she formally launched the UN Women’s HeForShe campaign. She claimed that “no country in the world can yet say they have achieved gender equality” and asked men to be “advocates for gender equality”- to be the “he” for “she” (UN Women, 2014). In light of this speech, the purpose of this study is to investigate the public reaction to the campaign.

The majority of discourse analysis previously applied to the study of gender and language has been qualitative and based on relatively small amounts of data; there are clear advantages offered by combining discourse analysis with corpus linguistics methods (Baker, 2014: 6). Additionally , researchers have begun to look towards conversations shared online to explore public views. For example, Potts et al. (2014) and Tumasjan et al. (2010) use data from Twitter in order to explore a wider range of public ideologies. This study combines these two new approaches, through carrying out a corpus-assisted discourse analysis of views expressed on Twitter about HeForShe.

I created a corpus of tweets containing the hashtag #HeForShe. Through comparison to a reference corpus of a random collection of tweets, keywords were identified. Following the work of Baker and McEnery (forthcoming), these keywords were grouped based on functional similarities and used to aid the identification of different discourses. Three main discourses were found: the discourse of the HeForShe fight; the discourse of gender and the discourse of Emma Watson. A recurring theme throughout these discourses is that men were frequently presented as more powerful than women.

Exploration of these discourses provides an understanding of how the HeForShe campaign is perceived and presented on Twitter, potentially enabling the organization to make better use of Twitter (see Messner et al., 2013).

Negativity, medicalization and awareness: a corpus-based discourse analysis of representations of mental illness in the British press by Gillian Smith

A topic of recent interest has been the stigmatisation of mental illness. The British press have been accused of perpetuating this, providing the public with negative representations of mental illness based on misguided stereotypes (Bilić and Georgaca, 2007; Nawková et al., 2001; Stuart, 2003; Thornton and Wahl, 1996; Coverdale et al., 2002). Studies in this area, however, are often small-scale and psychiatrically-based, failing to address the linguistic manifestations of discourses. This paper presents a corpus-based analysis of representations of mental illness in the British press between 2011 and 2014, aiming to broaden the scope of earlier works, using a larger, more representative sample and a discourse approach focussing on mental illness’ portrayals in UK newspapers.

Keywords within the corpus created revealed the central themes of mental illness newspaper articles, indicating a focus upon medicalization, violence and severity and suggesting that the tone of press discussions of mental health are largely negative. In order to look at specific press constructions of ‘mental illness’, collocates of the term were grouped according to semantic preferences, which were subsequently used to identify key discourses surrounding the term. Again, the major discourses revealed centred upon medicalization and negative stereotypes, including violence and addiction.

These findings highlight that press representations of mental illness are considerably negative, which in turn perpetuates the stigma surrounding mental illness, as the press’ misrepresentations are the predominant source of public information. However, a minor discourse revealed by the corpus, awareness, concerns press discussion of the need for wider understanding mental illness and prejudiced attitudes and suggests that, whilst the press portray mental illness in discriminatory ways, they attempt to change public opinion. It may be suggested, however, that for the press to raise full awareness, they first must address their own stigmatizing representations.

References:

Baker, P. (2014). Using corpora to analyze gender. London: Bloomsbury Academic.

Baker, P. and McEnery, T. (forthcoming). Who benefits when discourse gets democratised? Analysing a Twitter corpus around the British Benefits Street debate.

Bilić, B & Georgaca, E.  (2007). Representations of “Mental Illness” in Serbian Newspapers: A Critical Discourse Analysis. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 4(1-2), pp. 167-186.

Caldas-Coulthard, C. & Moon, R. (2010). “Curvy, Hunky, Kinky”: Using corpora as tools for critical analysis. Discourse and Society, 21(2), pp. 99-133.

Coverdale, J., Nairn, R., and Claasen, D. (2002). Depictions of mental illness in print media: a prospective national sample. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 36, pp. 697–700.

Messner, M., Jin, Y., Medina-Messer, V., Meganck, S., Quarforth, S. & Norton, S. (2013). 140 characters for better heath: An exploration of the Twitter engagement of leading nonprofit organizations. In H. Noor Al-Deen & J. Hendricks (Eds.) Social media and strategic communications. Retrieved from: Google Books, Accessed 28th December 2014.

Nawková, L., Nawka, A., Adámková, T., Rukavina, T.V., Holcnerová, P., Kuzman, M.R., and Raboch, J. (2001). The picture of mental health/illness in the printed media in three Central European countries. Journal of Health Communication, 17(1), pp. 22-40.

Pearce, M. (2008). Investigating the collocational behaviour of MAN and WOMAN in the BNCusing Sketch Engine. Corpora, 3(1), pp. 1-29.

Potts, A., Simm, W., Whittle, J. & Unger, J. (2014). Exploring ‘success’ in digitally augmented activism: a triangulated approach to analyzing UK activist Twitter use. Discourse, Context and Media, 6, pp. 65-76.

Stuart, H. (2003). Stigma and daily news: evaluation of a newspaper intervention. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 48, pp. 651–656.

Thornton, J.A. & Wahl, O.F. (1996). Impact of a newspaper article on attitudes toward mental illness. Journal of Community Psychology, 24, pp. 17–25.

Tumasjan, A., Sprenger, T., Sandner, P. & Welpe, I. (2010). Predicting elections with Twitter: What 140 characters reveal about political sentiment. In: Proceedings of the Fourth International AAAI Conference on Weblogs and Social Media. Retrieved from http://www.aaai.org/ocs/index.php/ICWSM/ICWSM10/paper/viewFile/1441/1852, Accessed 16th December 2014.

UN Women (2014). Emma Watson: Gender equality is your issue too. Retrieved from http://www.unwomen.org/en/news/stories/2014/9/emma-watson-gender-equality-is-your-issue-too, Accessed 16th December 2014.

Towards Corpus-driven History of Contemporary Islamic Political Discourse in Turkey and Bosnia

Next month, CASS will welcome visiting researcher Dino Mujadzevic. Read more about his project in his own words, below.


As a visiting researcher during February and March 2015 at the ESRC Centre for Corpus Approaches to Social Science (CASS), I am looking forward to widening my knowledge on corpus-driven methods in order to integrate more empirically-grounded methodology into my research of contemporary media and political discourses in Turkey and Bosnia. As the leading research centre focussing on the interdisciplinary corpus-driven research of the language in the social context, CASS was a natural choice for seeking theoretical and practical consultation, as well as assistance in the more technological aspects of carrying out a corpus-driven study. I was also attracted to the openness of CASS towards applications of corpus-driven methods to the study of history (which I consider to be my core discipline), as well expertise on topics related to Islam.

Since February 2014, I have worked as a postdoctoral fellow at the History Institute, Ruhr University Bochum (Germany). There, I am working on a research project entitled “Turkish Foreign Policy and pro-Turkish activism in Bosnia and Herzegovina (2002-2014): Discourse and actors“, which is funded by the Alexander von Humboldt foundation. In this project, I examine the media promotion of Turkey in this country by applying the Discourse Historical Approach to CDA on textual material in Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian (BHS) and Turkish produced by state and non-state pro-Turkish actors, both Turkish and Bosnian Muslim. The academic research on recent Turkish foreign policy and conservative cultural trends has risen in the past years as a reaction to the very active, influential and visible Turkish involvement on the world stage, mostly in the Balkans and the Middle East. Bosnia and Herzegovina, with its large Muslim population and its legacy of recent war, has a special symbolical importance for the ruling political party. The systematic study of the discourse which drives the Turkish official and non-official foreign policy coordinated by the government is still in its early stages.

During my fieldwork research stay in Sarajevo in summer of 2014, I started collecting textual material on Turkey in Bosnian media since 1990s. Additionally, in order to clarify the background of this material I carried out numerous interviews with persons active in pro-Turkish and/or Islamic groups promoting Turkey and participated in public events and religious ceremonies.

Due to very large amount of available media related to the research subject and possibility of more comprehensive quantitative backing of conclusions, I decided to upgrade my CDA research by applying the corpus-driven approach. Currently, I am building a corpus of pro-Turkish digitalized texts from Bosnian media (in BHS and Turkish languages), collected from private digital media collections, the Internet and by scanning the newspapers.

I plan to segment the corpus into chronologically delimited corpora and to extract keyword nouns and their semantic fields (KWIC, collocations, word-clusters) from each one of these corpora.  The extracted data would be used to analyse changes (or continuities) in discursive practices in the pro-Turkish discourse in Bosnia since 1990s. Assistance for this task should be provided by network visualizations (e.g. networks of keyword’s collocations). Because I am still in the initial phase of acquiring technical and methodological knowledge related to corpus linguistics, I started a smaller pilot project to try out the corpus-driven approach. I collected all Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan´s speeches (2003-2014), interviews and other statements in both in English and Turkish which were available online. Currently, I’m writing a paper on the incorporation of Islamic references in his political discourse which I plan to analyse by using AntConc tool on the chronologically divided corpora of Erdogan political statements. The major problems I am facing in scope of my pilot project include building a representative reference corpus and lemma lists for Turkish.

My stay at the LU is funded by European Research Stay Programme of Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.


Are you interested in being a visiting researcher at CASS? Email us at cass(Replace this parenthesis with the @ sign)lancs.ac.uk with details about your project and your proposed time and duration of stay for more information.

New CASS Briefing now available — What words are most useful for learners of English?

CASSbriefings-EDLWhat words are most useful for learners of English? Introducing the New General Service List. Learning vocabulary is a complex process in which the learner needs to acquire both the form and a variety of meanings of a given vocabulary item. General vocabulary lists can assist in the process of learning words by providing common vocabulary items. In response to problems identified in the currently available General Service List, the authors decided to investigate the core English vocabulary with very large language corpora using current corpus linguistics technology.


New resources are being added regularly to the new CASS: Briefings tab above, so check back soon.

New CASS Partnership to Work on Mapping Online Far-Right Networks

Research staff from the ESRC-Centre for Corpus Approaches to Social Science (CASS), Lancaster University and the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence (ICSR), King’s College London begin 2015 by undertaking a joint research project which aims to map the networks in which UK-based far-right Twitter accounts operate.

The research team is Joseph Carter – Research Fellow at ICSR, Mark McGlashan – Senior Research Associate at CASS, and; Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens – Head of Research and Information at ICSR. The collaborative research partnership is facilitated by the VOX-Pol Researcher Exchange Programme and CASS, and aims to establish a long-term relationship between the centres and staff.

The partnership brings together complementary research interests that have been explored extensively at both research centres, namely behaviours associated with, amongst others,  extremist political ideologies, nationalism, and (cultural) racism. However, the ways in which these phenomena have been explored at both centres are widely different. The primary focus of the research done at CASS is on the (quantitative) linguistic aspects of, for example, anti-Muslim rhetoric, and explores these primarily through corpus linguistic methods. Whereas, the research at ICSR has centred on examining the political radicalisation with a wider methodological remit, which includes social network analysis, media analysis, and discourse analysis.

The partnership brings together these different research interests on a project which combines aspects of Corpus Linguistics with Social Network Analysis to give both qualitative and quantitative analyses of the online UK far-right as it exists on Twitter. The research will give an overall snapshot of the online behaviour of those who affiliate with the far-right in an online context with findings being channelled towards policy makers, academic and non-academic audiences and into further collaborative research.

Using the law to challenge cultures of hate

Outlawing homophobic and transphobic hate crime in Europe

All crimes hurt in one way or another — emotionally, physically, or economically. Yet an accumulation of research evidence now shows conclusively that as a category of crime, hate crimes hurt more on average compared to otherwise motivated crimes. Hate crime victims are more likely to report experiencing post-victimisation emotional and psychological distress.

The greater harms inflicted by hate crimes provide the justification for hate crime laws. Any objections that such laws restrict freedom of speech fail to acknowledge that the expressive evidence by which we come to recognise hate crime rarely consists of what we might conventionally call ‘speech’. ‘Invective’ is a more accurate word. And it is likely that in a majority of hate crimes the spewing of hateful invective is the sole act by the perpetrator.

In addressing a seminar bringing together LGBTI organisations from across Europe with EU policy makers and other experts on hate crime in Brussels on International Human Rights Day last week, organised by ILGA-Europe, the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex  Association of Europe, I asked, given that the harms of homophobic hate crime are well-documented (and by inference the same gravity of harms are likely to be inflicted by transphobic hate crime — although less well documented), why is it that these crimes are not treated equitably in Europe with racist crimes which are subject to the 2008 EU Framework Decision on Racism and Xenophobia?  The Framework Decision includes an obligation for the criminal jurisdictions of Member States to consider racist or xenophobic motivation as an aggravating circumstance, or alternatively for the courts to take such motivation into account, in the determination of penalties for convicted offenders.

How hate hurts

A victim’s personal biography will shape how they react to crime. There will therefore be considerable variation in the reactions of hate crime victims — as there will be with victims of otherwise motivated crime. However, it is clear that as a group, hate crime victims report greater hurts when responding to crime surveys.

There are a number of reasons that might be proffered to explain this phenomenon. Chief among them is that hate crimes are ‘message crimes’. Intentionally or not, perpetrators send a message that their target is disparaged, denigrated, marginalised. The message strikes at the core of the victim’s identity. But the message is not personal. It is not about the particular individual on the receiving-end. It is about what their identity represents in the particular cultures in which hate violence is nested. Such representations give permission for violence.

And violence should not just be thought of physical attack. We might also think of violence as ‘violence of the word’ — to use a phrase coined some years ago to characterize threats, slurs, epithets and other forms of verbal denigration and hateful invective.[1]

We all know the common terms of abuse that constitute homophobic and transphobic invective. I won’t parrot them here. Often, these offences are referred to as ‘low level’ because they don’t inflict physical injury. But the mental wounds can be severe as evidenced by studies of post-victimisation distress and the testimony of victims.

We all know the old-adage ‘sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me’. What an awful lie. The emotional wounds inflicted by hateful invective can linger long beyond the time it takes for physical injuries to heal.

A disturbing picture of this type of victimisation was revealed recently by one of the most comprehensive surveys to date of the experience of discrimination, harassment and violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people, carried out by the European Union Fundamental Rights Agency in 2012.[2] Almost a fifth (19%) of  the 93,079 people aged 18 or over across the 27 EU Member States and Croatia, who responded to an online questionnaire, said that they had been victims of harassment in the past year — partly or completely because they were perceived to be lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered. Lesbian women were the most likely to have been harassed—almost a quarter (23%) in the last year—along with transgender respondents, of whom 22% had been harassed in the preceding 12 months.

Sending a message about hate violence

Just as hate crimes are message crimes, the omission of homophobic and transphobic hate crime from the scope of the 2008 EU Framework Decision unfortunately unintentionally sends a message: a message that such crimes are considered to be less serious than racist crimes.

The communicative function of the law cannot be understated. To understand this, in the case of hate violence, we need to understand the cultural context of such violence. It is nested in cultures of bigotry, prejudice, stereotypes, and narratives about difference—real or imagined. Challenging hate violence therefore necessitates challenging the cultural values which spawn hate. In this context the law plays a crucial role in constructing resistant narratives against the attitudes and values, or in other words the cultures, underpinning hate violence.

Law and culture are deeply interwoven. The law is not simply an autonomous product of culture. The law is constitutive of culture itself by providing a narrative of how a society seeks to visualize itself and envisions relations between its members. The law therefore not only sends a message of condemnation of hateful behaviour: it is the message.

In response to homophobic and transphobic violence there is a need to send a message back that such violence is abhorred no less, and no more, than racist violence. The same message needs to be sent about other forms of discriminatory violence. Laws against hate crime are therefore a vital component of the counter-narrative against the cultural values which spawn hate violence.

Using the law in this way to challenge culture does not impose a cultural straightjacket. In the case of hate violence, by seeking to restrain and alter aspects of culture that are destructive of human interaction the law seeks to lay the foundations for the dynamic evolution of our communities by denouncing the values that underpin hate violence and by implication promoting respect for diversity and difference.

While hate crime laws are an essential cultural force, it does not necessarily follow, however, that all offenders should be subject to punitive measures upon conviction. It needs to be acknowledged that the culpability of offenders is shared with the communities where the cultural values which spawn hate violence reside. Many offenders who perhaps lash out in the heat of the moment, or who perhaps have a laugh at the other person’s expense, or perhaps go along to get along with friends, may not be aware of the full depth of hurt they inflict on their victim when they vent commonly-held bigotry. In many cases, rehabilitative interventions, or some other form of therapeutic intervention aimed at helping the offender to begin to address the personal and social contexts for their offending will be more appropriate and just.

To get to that point though criminal justice systems across Europe need to take homophobic and transphobic hate crime seriously so that victims and offenders might receive an appropriate response. In this context, the target of hate crime laws is not only the everyday cultures in which hate violence is nested. Such laws are also targeted at the cultures of criminal justice organisations to promote understanding of what hate crime involves and why it should be taken seriously. The 2008 Framework Decision on Racism and Xenophobia has prompted some EU Member States to extend legal measures against hate crime to include homophobic and transphobic violence. We now need all Member States to establish inclusive hate crime laws to address such violence and to end an indefensible double-standard whereby violence on the basis of a person’s sexual orientation or sexual identity is treated less seriously in some countries compared to others, and less seriously than other forms of discriminatory violence.

Paul Iganski is Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice in the Lancaster University Law School, UK. His latest book, Hate Crime. A Global Perspective, written together with Jack Levin from Northeastern University’s Brunick Center on Violence and Conflict, in Boston, will be published in May 2015. Paul is on the Management Board of the Lancaster University ESRC Centre for Corpus Approaches to Social Sciences (CASS) and leads a CASS research project on The management of hateful invective by the courts.


[1] Matsuda, M. (1989) ‘Public responses to racist speech: considering the victim’s story’, Michigan Law Review, 87, pages 2320-2381.

[2] European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) (2013) European Union Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Survey, Vienna: European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights.

New CASS project: Big data media analysis and the representation of urban violence in Brazil

A new project in CASS has been funded jointly by the UK’s Economic and Social Research Council and the Brazilian research agency CONFAP. The project will involve a collaboration between two Lancaster academics (Professors Elena Semino and Tony McEnery) and two Brazilian academics: Professor Heloísa Pedroso de Moraes Feltes (University of Caxias do Sul) and Professor Ana Cristina Pelosi (University of Santa Cruz do Sul and Federal University of Ceara). The team will employ corpus methods to investigate the linguistic representation of urban violence in Brazil.

Urban violence is a major problem in Brazil: the average citizen is affected by acts of violence, more or less directly, on a daily basis. This creates a general state of fear and insecurity among the population, but, at the same time, may promote a sense of empathy with the less privileged classes in Brazil. Urban violence is also a regular topic in daily conversations and news media, so that people’s perceptions of the nature of this phenomenon are partly mediated by discourse. In particular, daily press reports of acts of violence may affect people’s views and attitudes in ways which may or may not be consistent with the actual incidence, forms and causes of violence.

This collaborative project will investigate the linguistic representation of urban violence in Brazil by applying the methods of Corpus Linguistics to two corpora:

  1. The existing transcripts of two focus groups on living with urban violence conducted in Fortaleza, Brazil, for a total of approximately 20,000 words;
  2. A new 2-million-word corpus of news reports in the Brazilian press, to be constructed as part of the partnership.

The linguistic representation of urban violence in the two corpora will be investigated by means of the analysis of: lexical and semantic concordances, collocational patterns and key words.  A comparison will also be carried out between the two corpora, in order to identify similarities and differences with respect to what types of violence are primarily talked about and how they are linguistically represented.

The comparative analysis of the two corpora will make it possible to explore in detail the relationships between official statistics about urban violence, media representations and citizens’ views. A better understanding of these relationships can help to alleviate the consequences of urban violence on citizens’ lives, and to foster attitudes conducive to the solution of the social problems that cause the violence in the first place.

Twitter host CASS event: Twitter rape threats and the Discourse of Online Misogyny

Twitter’s public policy team will tomorrow host an event organised by the Discourse of Online Misogyny (DOOM) project team at CASS. The team consists of Dr. Claire Hardaker, Lecturer in Corpus Linguistics in the Department of Linguistics and English Language, and Mark McGlashan, Senior Research Associate on the DOOM project.

The event assembles a number of key stakeholders drawn from Twitter’s global public policy team, law enforcement, the prosecution service, NGOs, and academia (law, psychology, computing, linguistics) to discuss public concerns about online abuse. At the event, the DOOM project team will talk about their work on rape threats made using Twitter and how their unique methods enabled analysis of how people made rape threats using language as well as how abusive social networks are formed online.

The DOOM team will stress the need for corpus-based approaches in the research and development of tools and methods for investigating and tackling online abuse.

For more information, contact the Lancaster University Press Office:

Email: pressoffice(Replace this parenthesis with the @ sign)lancaster.ac.uk

Call: +44 (0)1524 594120

Tweet: @LancasterPress

[more to follow]

Turning the tables on the stalkers

On 13th November, I presented a talk at a joint Paladin/Collyer-Bristow event. Paladin, the National Stalking Advocacy Service, assists high risk victims of stalking throughout England and Wales. Collyer Bristow’s Cyber Investigation Unit (CIU), which is headed up by partner Rhory Robertson, comprises a dedicated team of lawyers who advise victims of cyberstalking, cyber harassment, cyber bullying and internet trolls/trolling.

The major discussion of this event surrounded the notion of cyberstalking, how it affects victims, and how to combat this increasingly prevalent crime. My talk covered the research we are currently undertaking on the DOOM project, and how networks of abusive individuals can form online, potentially leading to escalation. Other speakers at the event included:

  • Nadine Dorries MP, Conservative MP for Mid Bedfordshire, and a cyberstalking target
  • Betsy De Thierry, Founder Director of the Trauma Recovery Centre, and a cyberstalking target
  • Laura Richards, CEO of Paladin, the National Stalking Advocacy Service
  • Steve Slater, Computer Forensics Manager, Devon & Cornwall Police
  • Alison Morgan, Barrister at 6KBW

Several points clearly emerged from this event, including the fact that there is much work to be done around stalking and harassment, that victims need to be taken much more seriously, that the correct legislation needs to be applied when prosecuting, and the recognition that online stalking can be just as damaging – if not more so in some cases – as physical, offline stalking.

New CASS Briefing now available — The EDL: moving right-wing populism online in the UK

CASSbriefings-EDLThe EDL: moving right-wing populism online in the UK. The English Defence League (EDL) is a far-right populist political movement and campaigns specifically on issues concerning the presence of Muslims and Islam in Western societies. This briefing from CASS presents the results of a corpus study on the online activities of the EDL and its supporters. The briefing shows that, although the hierarchy of the EDL claims to be specifically concerned with radical Islam, the discourse of supporters is less focussed and contains more explicit forms of Islamophobia.


New resources are being added regularly to the new CASS: Briefings tab above, so check back soon.

Participate in our ESRC Festival of Social Sciences “Language Matters” event online

We are very pleased like to announce an event that we are live streaming on YouTube and Google+ next week. We hope you can find time to attend online*; if not, the recording will be available on YouTube afterwards.

From 1730 – 1900 GMT on 4 November, the ESRC Centre for Corpus Approaches to Social Science is hosting a live event in association with the ESRC Festival of Social Sciences and in tangent with our popular FutureLearn course. We would be thrilled if you could ‘tune in’ and collaborate with us during “Language Matters: Communication, Culture, and Society”.

This evening is a mini-series of four informal talks showcasing the impact of language on society. These are presented by some leading names in corpus linguistics (including the CASS Principal Investigator, Tony McEnery) and their talks draw upon the most popular themes in our corpus MOOC:

- What can corpora tell us about learning a foreign language? (with Vaclav Brezina)
- A ‘battle’, a ‘journey’, or none of these? Metaphors for cancer (with Elena Semino)
- Wolves in the wires: online abuse from people to press (with Claire Hardaker)
- Words ‘yesterday and today’ (with Tony McEnery, Claire Dembry, and Robbie Love)

Though we pride ourselves on bringing interesting, accessible material to people on the go, what really brings these events to life is the interactions that we have with attendees. That’s why we invite you to log in and contribute to the discussions taking place after each presentation.

There are two ways to virtually attend.

First, via Google Hangout if you have a Google account. Sign up at https://plus.google.com/events/ca15afbicmmeiu6d25pn1qbverg and then log in from 17:15 GMT  on 4 November to greet your fellow participants.

If you don’t have a Google account, you can watch us on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hF_fl95tiSk with no registration.

We’ll be taking questions from the Google Hangout and from the #corpusMOOC hashtag on Twitter (particularly for those viewing on YouTube) and mixing these in with questions from our live audience.

We hope that you can take advantage of this event by participating online.


* If you are available, located in the London area, and would like to attend in person, please visit our event website to register.