News and Events

David Wright, Nottingham Trent University 

“The use of corpora in many types of forensic linguistic analysis is becoming increasingly commonplace”: A decade on from Cotterill (2010)

2nd April 2020 4pm - 6pm in room NW104B Seminar Series talk

Book your free place here.

In her excellent chapter on forensic linguistics in O’Keeffe and McCarthy’s Routledge Handbook of Corpus Linguistics, Janet Cotterill (2010) outlines the various ways in which corpora and corpus linguistic methodologies have been (and can be) applied in forensic linguistics. She includes in her discussion the use of already existing general reference corpora by forensic linguists, the building of specialised corpora in forensic contexts and the use of web-as-corpus. The chapter concludes by detailing some challenges of using corpora for forensic purposes and predicting future challenges. This talk revisits Cotterill’s chapter and takes stock of the work that has been done in the ten years since its publication. It considers the potential that has been fulfilled, the opportunities that remain and the new challenges that have emerged in the application of corpus methods in forensic linguistics.


From ‘acts of compassion’ to protest? Volunteers and their relation to activism in the British and French refugee support charities
Pierre Monforte (University of Leicester)

Wednesday 5th Feb, NW805, 3-4pm

c6c618f2-b183-4dbc-a0b2-f6fef5703961In the last decades, in the context of increasingly restrictive immigration policies, charities and grass- roots groups have developed across Europe to organise acts of compassion and solidarity with refugees. Moreover, especially since the so-called ‘refugee crisis’ in 2015, informal networks based on new forms of engagement such as donating, hosting, and volunteering in refugee camps abroad have emerged and rapidly gained visibility. This paper draws on an ongoing research project exploring the frames of compassion and solidarity and examines how volunteers based in the UK and in France negotiate the boundaries between humanitarian action and social activism throughout their experience.

Scholarly literature has often separated charity engagement from social activism, as the former is seen as lacking the goal of social or political change that characterises the latter. The set of 123 in- depth interviews we conducted in different British and French charities and informal networks revealed the complexity of the relationship between humanitarian engagement and social activism. Pro-asylum volunteers tend to frame their involvement in different ways: while some present the support they offer as depoliticised and purely orientated towards helping those in need, others do not differentiate between their engagement and the broader objective of social or political change. This paper not only aims to highlight the complexity of the volunteers’ engagement but it also discusses its transformative potential. In particular, the interviews show how, through their experience of volunteering, participants can develop new cognitive frames, emotions and relations that relate to broader objectives of social and political change.

Pierre Monforte is Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Leicester and Principal Investigator in the project “The Frames of Altruistic Action”. His research is broadly situated within the field of political sociology. He focuses primarily on civil society and social movements, with a particular emphasis on movements of migrants. He has carried out empirical research on the mobilizations of asylum-seekers and refugees in France, Germany, and at the European Union level, from a comparative perspective. He also analysed the mobilizations of undocumented migrants in Canada. He was Co-Investigator in the ESRC project “The UK Citizenship Project“.

The Fall of the Berlin Wall, 30 Years on

Aston University's Centre for Critical Inquiry into Society and Culture (CCISC) invites you to roundtable entitled "The Fall of the Berlin Wall, 30 Years on" to take place on Thursday 14 November, 16:00-18:00 in Aston University's Main Building, room 504.

Speakers include Dr. Yaprak Gürsoy (Politics and International Relations), Dr Jelena Obradovic (Politics and International Relations), Dr. Volker Prott (History), Dr. Ilaria Scaglia (History)

Dr. Brian Sudlow (French/History), and Dr. Uwe Wunderlich (Politics and International Relations). 

Students, staff, and members of the broader community are invited to join us and to participate in the discussion.

Fanny Pascual, University of New Caledonia: “The Special Air Service Brigade during WWII: The Gap between Legend and Facts”

Thursday 17 October 2019, 16:00–17:00, in MB574

This lecture deals with the history of the Special Air Service (SAS), analysing the gap between the facts and legends of its origins. Created during the Second World War, in July 1941, the SAS involved 3400 men: two British regiments, two French battalions, one Belgian company and others units which adopted the same concept (known as SBS, Sacred Squadron). From North Africa via the Mediterranean sea/islands to Norway, the brigade operated in various fronts before being disbanded on 5 October 1945. The French kept a half brigade until 1948, while the Belgians maintained their contingent until 1952, when they renamed their units without the SAS appellation. Two months ago, a television drama about the SAS origins (“Lid the Lift”) was announced as well as the 4th season of the TV show “SAS: Who Dares Wins.” The fame of this unit never decreased, and they are still portrayed as supermen. But were they?

Fanny Pascual is a Senior Lecturer at the University of New Caledonia. Her research focuses on the Second World War, the Special Air Service, and more broadly, on the Pacific War and its representation in museums.


The illogic of land value: Housing and the global crisis of social reproduction


Steven RolfSteven Rolf, Aston University

Wednesday 13 November 2019, 3.30-4.30pm, MB227

Insecure tenure, evictions and foreclosures are disrupting daily life en masse across the world. This review essay mobilises the revival of interest in social reproduction theory (SRT) in order to interrogate the literature on the form and function of urban land and housing under capitalism in order to better understand the logic of its crisis. Specifically, I argue that the rise of a ‘real-estate state’ as a new form of governance better captures how the crisis of social reproduction has arisen.

The rise of real-estate states represents the political expression of an economic logic, according which a tipping point in the shift of investment capital into the ‘secondary circuit’ of (unproductive) real-estate capital has increasingly both empowered rentiers, developers, and landowners and the coalition of interests around increasing land values on the one hand, and come to undermine the primary circuit based upon manufacturing and services on the other. The effect is the emergence of a structural interdependency between states and those capitalists intent on inflating asset-bubble in housing to the further detriment of the profitability of capital in general, which relies upon access to cheap workforces. The rise of this new and distinct fraction of capital poses the question of access to housing and the ability to make a life in the city as one of the key challenges confronting working class families, while posing severe threats to the productive sectors of the capitalist economy.


The Nomad, the Squatter, and the State: Roma Racialization and Spatial Politics in Italy

Gaja MaestriGaja Maestri, Aston University

Wednesday 23 October, 3.30-4.30pm, MB231

This presentation discusses what happens when the Roma move from the space of the informal settlement to that of the squat of housing right movements. Based on the analysis of housing squats involving Roma people in the Italian capital city, I argue that this move is more than a mere housing solution: it is a new form of contentious and aesthetic politics. In Rome approximately 7,000 Roma face extreme housing deprivation and segregation, living in both official and makeshift camps. While different associations have for many years advocated Roma housing inclusion through a minority and human rights framework, in the aftermath of the 2007-2008 economic crisis an increasing number of Roma have moved to squats set up by social movement activists. In this presentation I will illustrates the collective action repertoire of Roma-squatting and its aesthetic politics, which through spatial dislocation unsettles the racializing discourse endorsed by policymakers. Finally, through a comparison of four housing squats that were joined by Roma people, I will unpack the process of politicization of Roma-squatting and discuss the urban frames and material resources that consolidate this transformation.


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Wednesday 29 May 2019
9am - 5pm, room MB108

This one-day Workshop organised by the School of Languages and Social Sciences will bring together specialists from the fields of biology, neuroscience, linguistics, and cognitive stylistics. The overarching goal of the Workshop is to promote an interdisciplinary approach to language studies and raise awareness of these research links among academics and, importantly, students. Speakers will discuss the relationship between language and biology from evolutionary, neuropsychological, and cognitive perspectives.




Dan Dediu, Université Lumière Lyon 2
From biology to language: the role of vocal tract variation in shaping phonetic and phonological diversity across languages

Olga Feher, University of Warwick
How human language and birdsong are shaped by cognition and interaction

Bart de Boer, Vrije Universiteit Brussel
Analysing the minimalist account of language evolution

Andrew Olson, University of Birmingham
A neuropsychologist’s view of the human language capacity

Rosemary Varley, University College London
Lesion Studies: Insights from aphasia into language & mind?

Caroline Witton, Aston University
Auditory Processing Disorders and Language

Karen Dwyer, University College London and King’s College London
Impoverished linguistic alignment in schizophrenia patients' dialogic interactions

Gabriella Rundblad, King's College London
Metaphors in Neurodevelopmental Disorders

Marcello Giovanelli and Chloe Harrison, Aston University
Analysing Literature: A Cognitive Stylistic Approach

For more information, email Ariadne Loutrari at

Corpus linguistics and the digital humanities: Looking at fictional and real speech

Michaela Mahlberg & Viola Wiegand

Tuesday 30 April 2019, 16:00 - 17:30pm
Room MB708C

While corpus research has traditionally focused on non-literary texts, there has been increasing interest in the study of fiction, which is often covered under the umbrella term ‘corpus stylistics’ (Semino and Short 2004). In order to be able to account as fully as possible for features of literary texts we need to create new tools and develop methodologies that are tailored to the task at hand. There are numerous digital humanities tools for the study of fiction, but similarities and overlap with corpus linguistic concerns are rarely brought to the fore. In this talk, we illustrate key functionalities of the web application CLiC ( and its latest release CLiC 2.0 (March 2019). CLiC has been specifically designed for the corpus linguistic study of narrative fiction. The CLiC corpora of 19th century fiction comprise over 140 books and 16 million words. For all CLiC texts, direct speech and specific places around speech have been marked up (Mahlberg et al. 2016). Hence, CLiC can run searches within and across defined textual subsets and support the analysis of features of narration and fictional speech. An important question is how a range of  features and patterns in fiction can be brought together in a coherent theoretical framework. The search for such a framework also highlights where corpus linguistics and the digital humanities can come more closely together. Our suggestion will focus on a lexically-driven approach that can account for fictional worlds while at the same time highlighting the fuzzy boundaries between fiction and the real world. We explore these boundaries with a focus on speech patterns. 


Mahlberg, M., Stockwell, P., Joode, J. de, Smith, C., & O’Donnell, M. B. (2016). CLiC Dickens: 
novel uses of concordances for the integration of corpus stylistics and cognitive poetics. Corpora, 11(3), 433–463.

Semino, E., & Short, M. (2004). Corpus Stylistics. Speech, Writing and Thought Presentation in a Corpus of English Writing. London: Routledge


Friends, neighbours, countrymen!

A celebration of European friendship, kinship and transnational connections

Friday 29 March 2019
Aston University, Birmingham

09.45 Registration (Welcome and Opening Remarks at 10.20)

10.30 KEYNOTE I: Heinrich Detering (Göttingen), Springtime Poetry: Coleridge in Göttingen

11.15 Refreshments

11.30 PANEL 1Transcontinental connections in the long 19th century

Máire Cross (Newcastle), Europe and beyond: Flora Tristan and transnational connections through a gender lens

Brian Sudlow (Aston), G. K. Chesterton: an English nationalist à la française

12.30 LUNCH

13.30. KEYNOTE II. Thierry Laurent (Paris VIII), André Maurois’s England: stereotypes and truths

14.15 PANEL 2 Transcontinental connections in film

Barry Nevin (Dubin IoT), ‘London Films and Transnational Identity: Nation, Borders and Exile in Jacques Feyder’s Knight Without Armour (1937)’.

Claudia Gremler (Aston), German Guilt and Scandinavian Grace. Norway in the German Cinematic Imagination

15.15 Refreshments

15.30 PANEL 3 Auf Wiedersehen to all that!

Uwe Schütte (Aston), Electronic European Utopias – Past, Present but „No future”. Kraftwerk’s Trans-Europa Express

Richard Hibbitt (Leeds), W.G. Sebald: English, French, German, Swiss’ (Respondent: Uwe Schütte)

16.30 Closing of the colloquium and farewell drinks 

Please email Brian Sudlow at to register!

Research Seminar: How fossil fuel use became unsustainable, and what society can do about it

Tuesday 26 March from 4-5pm in NW807

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The global level of fossil fuel consumption continues to rise, despite ever-more-insistent claims that we are moving to a post-fossil-fuel era. The presentation will include a historical overview of the period since 1950 that is characterised by a “great acceleration” of human impacts on the natural world. It will look at the technological systems that consume fossil fuels, and the social and economic systems in which they are embedded. Since the 1980s, governments have acknowledged the need to curb consumption, but overseen steep increases: what can society as a whole do about this most urgent crisis? 


Simon Pirani is Senior Visiting Research Fellow at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies and author of Burning Up: a global history of fossil fuel consumption, (Pluto Press, August 2018). His previous publications as a historian include The Russian Revolution in Retreat (Routledge, 2008) and Change in Putin’s Russia: Power, Money and People (Pluto Press, 2010).


Working together: collaboration beyond the academy in  research in dementia and culture

Friday 23 November 2018,

Institute of Modern languages Research, Senate House, London


9:15-10.15 KEYNOTE 
Dr Andrea Capstick, Centre for Applied Dementia Studies, University of Bradford

Time for Dementia: Understanding the experience of people with dementiaDr Stephanie Daley and Yvonne Feeney  

Narrative biographical work with women with dementia who live alone
Helen Wells and Andrea Capstick, Centre for Applied Dementia Studies, University of Bradford

11:15:11:30 BREAK

ARTS 4 DEMENTIAVeronica Franklin Gould AMRSPH, President and Head of Research, Arts 4 Dementia

Nordoff Robbins 

‘Richard Bentley steals the show’: rethinking ‘outcomes’ in dementia and the arts David Reid, University of Sheffield

12:45-1:30 LUNCH

Metaphorical Narratives in Dementia: Raising Awareness   
Giulia Frezza, Sapienza, University of Rome and Spits Fellow, 
Metaphor Lab-Amsterdam, University of Amsterdam
Gerard Steen, Metaphor Lab-Amsterdam, University of Amsterdam

Changing care: how a neuropharmacologist-cum-health-humanist and a caregiver-turned-activist work together to achieve improved caregiver and patient support
Martina Zimmermann, King’s College London
Tony Britton, Living Well with Dementia, Warwickshire

Natural Dying and Dementia
Andrea Germann, University of Heidelberg

2:30-3:30 COFFEE BREAK

Visual representations of dementia in children’s picturebooks 
Elizabeth Caldwell, Faculty of Health and Medicine, Lancaster University 

Facilitated by Katsura Sako, Keio University and Raquel Medina, Aston University

Judith Baxter: Scholar, Researcher and Mentor 

Friday, 23rd November 2018, Conference Aston, Room 123

The School of Languages and Social Sciences, Aston University with The Centre for Critical Inquiry into Society and Culture, and the BAAL Language, Gender and Sexuality Special Interest Group   

The work of Professor Judith Baxter has been hugely influential within the field of Applied Linguistics and beyond. Her development of innovative methodologies centred around feminist poststructuralist theory, and the insights she revealed about the language of leadership and the experiences of women leaders, continue to shape the research and working practice of academics and practitioners worldwide. Several key principles lay at the heart of Judith’s scholarship: she worked relentlessly to interrogate and disrupt grand narratives, to tease out and value diverse and multiple voices, and to promote positive, transformative change, especially for marginalised groups. She brought these principles to bear in a range of contexts, including not only her academic research, but also her teaching, business consultancy and leadership. This one-day event commemorates Judith Baxter’s achievements, demonstrate her wide-reaching influence, and looks forward to the multiple ways in which her legacy will live on, and continue to promote positive change in society, especially for women and marginalised groups.

Event Programme

09.45-10.20  Registration and Coffee

10.20-10.35  Welcome

10.35-11.20  Binna Kandola: The academic-practitioner divide: myth or reality?

11.20-11.50  Break

11.50-1.00  Session 1: Inspiring and informing research

  • Urszula Clark: Double voicing and enregistering dialect representation in Staffordshire potteries cartoons.
  • Roberta Piazza: The strategic identity of a group of women travellers in the South of England.
  • Tanya Linaker: Constructing and negotiating gender identities through bilingual practices: The case of Russian speaking women in Britain.

1.00-2.30  Lunch and Discussion

2.30-4.00  Session 2: Personal, professional and academic reflections 

  • Allyson Jule: Revisiting Sex and the City with Judith Baxter
  • Brian Baxter: Judith Baxter: A view on the origins and applications of some of her research ideas  
  • Jai Mackenzie: For my mentor: Reflecting on the intersections between Judith Baxter’s teaching and scholarship

4.00-4.30  Closing comments    

Discussion and celebration of Judith’s life and work to continue at Boston Tea Party.

Please register for the event at:

The event includes lunch and refreshments. We suggest donations of £10 (full fee)/ £5 (concessions), which will go to Penny Brohn Cancer Care, a charity Judith supported and benefited from.

For more information, and to let us know of any dietary or other requirements, please contact Jai Mackenzie:

Registration will close on Thursday, 8th November.

Getting Here: You can find out everything you need to know about getting to Conference Aston (which is on the Aston University campus, in the Aston Business School) here:

Please note that car parking at Conference Aston must be booked online, prior to arrival; visit to book and pay for your space. You will then be sent an email permit to display in your windscreen and an entry code for the car park. Please ensure you book this prior to setting off, as we cannot guarantee availability at the venue car park on the day.

BAAL LKALE Spring Meeting 27th and 28th April 2018 Programme and Registration  details

The Full Programme and Registration Details  for the the Spring 2018 BAAL Linguistics and Knowledge About Language in Education (LKALE) SIG Meeting  can be found at:

The 2018 meeting will be held at Aston University, Birmingham, on 27th and 28th April on the theme of:  Teaching grammar: from theory to policy and  practice.  Invited speakers are: 

Kerstin Mehler  (Mannheimer Zentrum fur Empirische Mehtsprachigkeitsforschung MAZEM)
Claire Acevedo  (Open University)
Lindsey Thomas (LTEducation)
Kamil Trzebiatowski (KTLangspec EAL Training)
Gee Macrory (Manchester Metropolitan University)
Catriona Fleming (UK Houses of Parliament, Universities outreach team)

Secondary school teachers from Birmingham, London and Reading will also present on their work on integrating grammar and literacy across the secondary school curriculum. 

A range of academic papers on the topic will also be presented. 

Tuesday, 20 March 2018  12.30-1.30pm, MB404A

Lunch Time Research Seminar

Competition of Victims: Memory Wars and Emerging State Ideologies in Post-Soviet Armenia and Azerbaijan

Dr. Nona Shahnazarian. The Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography,  National Academy of Sciences, Yerevan, Armenia

Accusations of genocide and ethnic cleansing during post-Soviet conflicts in the South Caucasus region of the former USSR have not received significant scholarly attention to date, despite their ongoing significance for the development of official ideologies and national identities in the South Caucasus countries. The paper presented at the seminar focuses on the recent history of ultra-nationalism and ethnic violence in Armenia and Azerbaijan, and its consequences for the local populations. It gives equal attention to the two cases of post-Soviet ethnic cleansing, both of which relate to well-known incidents during the Nagorno-Karabakh war between Armenia and Azerbaijan, namely the Sumgait pogroms against Armenians in Azerbaijan and the Khojaly mass killings of Azerbaijanis in Nagorny Karabakh itself. Because the events in Sumgait and Khojaly continue to play a significant role in the Azerbaijani-Armenian conflict, this paper should be of interest both to scholars seeking to understand the long-term political consequences of ethnic cleansing, and to policy-makers seeking to find a solution to this and other similar ethnic conflicts. The term 'Memory wars', coined by Russian scholar Victor Shnirelman, refers to the process of politicization of local history and the making of a tool out of it by local elites.

Research Seminar

Professional journalistic practices in comparative perspective: the view from Central and Eastern Europe 

The path to media freedom in almost all countries of the Eastern bloc has been very uneven. Political events and developments of the last few years have added further twists. In Ukraine the media landscape has become more diverse after the 2014 Euromaidan, while Russian and Hungarian journalists are facing new challenges to press freedom.

The workshop will bring together material recently collected in the field, and will diss

Professional journalistic practices in comparative perspective: the view from Central and Eastern Europe

ect and explore the latest developments of how journalistic practices play o

ut in different post-Communist countries and contexts.

Date of the workshop: 7 February 2018, 2-6pm

Venue: Aston University (Birmingham)

2pm: Welcome & coffee/tea

2.30pm: Session 1 (MB246A)

  • Ilya Yablokov (University of Leeds) ‘Russian and Hungarian Journalist Communities in Comparative Perspective’
  • Taras Fedirko (Cambridge University) ‘Talking Heads: Ukrainian Journalism’s Economy of Unfreedom’

4-4.30: Break

4.30: Session 2 (MB146)

·         Natalia Roudakova (Erasmus University, Rotterdam) ‘Losing Pravda: The Press in Post-Truth Russia’

The project is jointly funded by the British Academy/Leverhulme Trust and Aston University’s Centre for Critical Inquiry into Society and Culture (CCISC).

If you have any queries, please, email:

Dr. Ilya Yablokov


Dr. Elisabeth Schimpfössl

All welcome!

Performing the Victim Label: Trafficked Women, Resilience and the Spaces of German Criminal Law

Monday 27th November 2017,17:00
G63, Ground floor, Main Building,
Aston University

Performing the Victim Label:
Trafficked Women, Resilience and the Spaces of German Criminal Law
Dr Sharron A. FitzGerald

Abstract: In this paper, I discuss my qualitative study of German law and policy responses to human trafficking and prostitution. The data I present in this article are a subset based on in camera participant observations of judges deposing women who are witnesses in criminal proceedings against their traffickers. I use my analysis to develop and inform an different account of trafficked women’s experiences–one that prioritises the material and discursive insights offered by focusing on their narrative accounts of their ‘lived’ experiences of trafficking. By concentrating upon trafficked women’s words, I contribute to interdisciplinary, feminist work that acknowledges the complex interconnections of vulnerability and agency in their lives but rejects essentialised accounts of their identities as ‘victims’. My approach concentrates on how the criminal law’s construction–and privileging–of gendered notions of ‘real’ and ‘ideal’ victims of trafficking is both a site of trafficked women’s subordination and a source of their agency. Normative discourses about ‘real’ trafficked women created a specific narrative environment shaping how my research participants could speak about their lives. And yet, I argue they did not completely define it. Drawing on Judith Butler’s analysis of the complex transactions between subjectification and subversive agency and emerging debates in the health arena in psychosocial theory on resilience I ask: How do my research participants engage with and manipulate the law’s own institutional gender logic to assume representational authority of their identity? In order to answer this questions, it is necessary to unravel the delicate equilibrium between things they must convey to the judge and those things that must not be spoken before the court if they are to ensure continued state support as victims of trafficking. I argue the process of arranging their performance of self provides an archetype of Butler’s (1993; 1997, 2000) interpretation of assujetissement–the process of becoming subordinated by power and well as the process of becoming a subject. This process illuminate how my research participants construct their narratives in the context of a particular times and places using particular themes and plot lines. I submit the ability to be responsive to the court’s expectations from within its own hegemony is an expression of their agency and developing resilience. 

Biography: Dr Sharron A. FitzGerald teaches in gender and migration studies at Ludwig-Maximilian University, Munich, Germany. She is a Research Fellow at the International Victimology Institute at Tilburg University, The Netherlands. Her research interests are interdisciplinary, including gender, human smuggling and trafficking, prostitution, social justice, neo-liberal governance and securitisation. Sharron is a member of EU funded project ‘ProsPol’ that examines features and effects of prostitution policies at the European, national and local levels.

Researching and Making an Impact with ‘Hard to Reach’ Groups 

Wednesday 29th November 2017,
14:00 – 16:00,
Cadbury Room,
10th Floor, North Wing,
Main Building,,
Aston University

Places are free but registration is essential

Speakers: Dr Sharron FitzGerald (Distinguished Visitor, Ludwig-Maximilian University, Munich); Dr Katy Pilcher (Aston University) & Dr Demelza Jones (Aston University) 

This workshop will draw from Dr Sharron FitzGerald’s research in which she has interviewed human traffickers, women who have been trafficked, as well as dedicated NGOs, anti-trafficking and prostitution police units, state prosecutors and judges, regarding their approach and understanding of the legal prosecution process in Germany. Dr Katy Pilcher will reflect upon her research with sex workers; performers and spectators in erotic dance venues marketed towards women customers in the UK; and practitioners of ‘orgasmic meditation’ in London and New York. Dr Demelza Jones will speak about her research with migrants and other politically marginalised groups.
The workshop will include discussions surrounding issues of access and gatekeeping, the research process, and the ethics and political implications of characterising people as ‘hard to reach’ or ‘vulnerable groups’ in constructing research agendas, during the research process, and in impact and dissemination activities.
The workshop is interactive – please come along ready to share insights from your own research or future research ideas.

Places are free but registration is essential as space is limited, please RSVP for a place to Dr Katy Pilcher: ASAP. 

Dementia and Cultural Narratives Symposium

8th - 9th December 2017,
Aston University

Flyer for Dementia and Cultural Narratives Symposium Event

The dementia and cultural narrative symposium will explore the growing body of cultural representations of dementia across a range of texts and contexts. The symposium’s contributions reflect the developing research culture that explores, interrogates, and evaluates the ways in which forms of dementia are being used in media such as TV, film, literature, the visual arts and theatre. The symposium will bring together scholars and other professionals from a variety of fields to discuss the implications of the narrativisation of dementia.

Keynotes will be delivered by June Hennell, MBE, advocate for those with dementia, and Dr Aagje Swinnen, co-editor of Popularizing Dementia: Public Expressions and Representations of Forgetfulness. There will also be a screening of Piano Lessons by Professor Marlene Goldman, author of the forthcoming Forgotten: Narratives of Age-Related Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease in Canada.   

This symposium is the inaugural event of the new international Dementia and Cultural Narrative network.

This is a FREE event, but we ask all attendees to register by 15thNovember:

Please direct any questions to the event organisers Raquel Medina and Sarah Falcus:

The Supressed Stories of Myanmar: in Conversation with Letyar Tun Screening

Thursday 9th November 2017,
18:00 – 20:00,
Room MB552,
Fifth Floor, Main building,
Aston University

The Supressed Stories of Myanmar

Film Screening and Panel Discussion “Violent Borders”

Tuesday 10th October 2017,

18:00 – 20:00,Violent BordersRoom G 11,
Ground Floor, Main building,
Aston University

 Join Stop Charter Flights - End Deportations, STRIKE! Magazine and Aston Univer

sity’s Centre for Critical Inquiry into Society and Culture (CCISC) for film screenings followed by a panel discussion chaired by Dr Graeme Hayes about borders, migration, and cages. 

The event will provide a space to explore how violent borders are affecting communities in the UK and around the world. Featuring the films Violent Borders produced by STRIKE! Magazine and Working Illegally produced by Stand Off film.

This event is free and all are welcome to attend.

Integrating English 2017 Conference

Integrating English 2017

Friday 3rd November,930am - 500pmAston University
 This conference is suitable for secondary teachers teaching English at any key stage, and particularly suitable for those wishing to develop integrated language and literature work in the classroom. The day will include talks and workshops from leading international academics on research in language and literature that can be translated into classroom practice and will provide plenty of opportunities for reflection and collaboration. You can register free of charge for this event here but places are limited.

Download the programme here.

Aston University and Örebro University Joint Event
Integrating refugees moving beyond the migration crisis: Are we building a new society?

Monday, 22 May 2017
Room MB375

9:30 am - Welcome by the Vice Chancellor of Aston University
Public Lecture by Dr. Emma Arneback, Örebro University
Anti-Racist Education in a time of Migration

10.00-10.30 - Public Lecture by Amanda Russell Beattie, Aston University
Families, Children & Mobility Politics:
Attending to child voice in the 2012 Family Immigration Rules (UK)

10.30-11.00 - Questions and Answers

11.00-13.00 - Roundtable: the View from Practitioners
Helen Clare, City of Sanctuary Committee
Lea Fanara, Support Worker, Ashley Community & Housing
Shari Brown, Project Coordinator, Restore Project, Birmingham
David Hirst, Refugee and Migrant Support Practitioner, Birmingham Community Housing Network
Haliima Ali, Ashley Community and Housing

13.00 -14.00 - Buffet lunch for all participants

All welcome.
Please contact if you would like to attend.

Researching the Church of England

Aston University's Centre for Critical Inquiry into Society and Culture invite you to a half-day symposium 'Researching the Church of England', to be held on Tuesday 25th July at As

CCISC Event: Researching the Church of England

ton University, Birmingham.

Marking the award of an honorary doctorate by the university to the Bishop o

f Birmingham, The Right Reverend David Urquhart, the event will showcase the range of work being 

undertaken by Aston researchers on issues relating to the Church of England. This will include Dr Sarah-Jane Page's (Lecturer in Sociology) work on gender and motherhood in the clergy; a collaborative project between Dr Demelza Jones (Lecturer in Sociology) and Canon Dr Andre

w Smith (Director of Interfaith Relations for the Bishop of Birmingham and Honorary Fellow at the University of Birmingham) on migrant and minority-ethnic congregations' use of Anglican church spaces; and contributions from two of our doctoral students - Celine Benoit on the role of the Church in schools, and George Amakor on the Church in Nigeria.

We are also pleased to announce two eminent guest speakers: Dr Susanna Snyder (Assistant Director of Catherine of Siena College and Tutor in Theology at University of Roehampton; Research Associate at the Oxford Centre for Christianity and Culture, Regent Park's College, Oxford; and Associate Member of the Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Oxford), who w

The symposium is open to academics, students and interested practitioners. It is free to attend and lunch and refreshments will be provided. Places are limited - please contact Dr Demelza Jones ( to reserve your place.ill discuss her research on refugees, arts and the Church of England; and The Right Reverend Dr Nigel Peyton (Bishop of Brechin and Honorary Fellow at Lancaster University) who will talk about his research into clergy's lives. The event will also include a roundtable session, giving attendees and speakers an opportunity to discuss future directions and priorities in research into the Church and related issues.

Click here to download the event flyer PDF

Turkey and the EU

Turkey and the EU: Great Promises, Lost Chances

Venue: Aston University, Main Building, Room: MB552

30 March 2017 16.30-18.00



● Four disciplines ● One topic ●

The Discourse and Culture Group invite you to a one day colloquium, which explores the different ways in which disciplines – such as linguistics, sociology, politics, management and organizational studies - use discourse analysis in analysing research data. The main purpose of the event is to see whether or not synergies can be found between different methodologies used in the distinct disciplines, and to propose a way forward in developing a new, interdisciplinary perspective. 

During the colloquium attendees will have an opportunity to hear our four distinguished speakers’ take on discourse analysis, but also to ‘bring and share’ their own data or research ideas for a discussion about possible methodological approaches. 

Speakers included:

Johannes Angermüller, Professor of Discourse, Warwick University
Interest: Discursive construction of social order
Background: Sociology and Linguistics
Author of: Poststructuralist discourse analysis: subjectivity in enunciative pragmatics, 2014, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan

Paul Baker, Professor of English Language, Lancaster University
Interest: Language and Identities
Background: critical discourse studies and corpus linguistics
Author of: Using Corpora in Discourse Analysis, 2006, London: Continuum

Jason Glynos, Essex School of Discourse Analysis
Interest: Discourse analytic and psychoanalytic approaches to social and political analysis
Background: Social an Political Philosophy, Social Theory
Co-author of: Logics of Critical Explanation in Social and Political Theory, 2007,  London: Routledge - with David Howarth. 

Gerlinde Mautner, Professor of Business English Communication,  Wirtschaftsuniversität Wien, Vienna
Interest: The interface of language and business
Background: Critical Discourse Analysis and Critical Management Studies
Author of: Discourse and Management, 2016, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan


The 9th international conference on Discourse, Communication and the Enterprise aims to promote and foster interaction between those interested in discourse and communication in organisational settings, and follows a series of successful conferences (Lisbon 2001, Vigo 2003, Rio de Janeiro 2005, Nottingham 2007, Milan 2009, Hong Kong 2011, Beijing 2013 and Naples 2015).

The focus of this conference is “From Theory to Application”: it aims to encourage scholars, educators and professionals to think about ways research can inform practice in business and organizational communication, either by offering a lens for the critical exploration of organizational processes or to cultivate effective communication practice(s). 


Download the FINAL* programme here.

*as much as we would like to stick to this, please be aware that this is subject to change 

Book of Abstracts

Download abstracts here.

Dr Demelza Jones contributes to BBC documentary

Dr Demelza Jones was interviewed for a BBC1 documentary about Hinduism in Britain - 'A Tale of Five Temples: The Story of Hinduism in Britain' - and also advised the programme makers on Tamil Hindu traditions and Tamil migration to Britain. It is available for about a month on the I-player

'Crevices Exposed: Blind Spots in Galician Textuality’

Dr Olga Castro has guest-edited the special issue ‘Crevices Exposed: Blind Spots in Galician Textuality’, together with Dr Maria Linheira, for the journal ‘Abriu: Estudos de textualidade de Galicia, Brasil e Portugal.’ Find it here.

CCISC Unconference and Strategy Day.

2 November 2016

Do you consider yourself a critical scholar? Not sure where your research belongs? Would you like to find out what your colleagues are up to? Have you always wondered what “unconferences” are about?

An unconference enables attendees  to design their own schedule: the topics they want to hear about and the activities they want to take part in. 

But how does it work? I hear you say. The success of an unconference depends on the session pitches: this is when attendees pitch their ideas for sessions. These could be traditional presentations (in this case be prepared to give a talk about the topic you pitch followed by Q&A), discussions (in this case pitch a topic to be discussed and be prepared to lead the discussion), brainstorming (in this case share your idea and invite people to join you for a session of collaborative thinking)

For our CCISC day you might want to consider: 

  • giving a talk about your research
  • discussing your future plans or the plans of your research cluster
  • inviting others to find ways of interdisciplinary collaborations and grant developments
  • brainstorming about promoting your research
  • have a chat about anything related to academia and research.

Pitches are about 30 seconds, and you are very welcome to pitch more than one session!
The general sessions slots are 30 minutes - but these can be shared between more people or joined up for topics that need to be discussed in greater detail. 
 At the end of the pitching session, we devise a schedule and off we go.

Between 2.30 and 3.30 we invite you for a thought-provoking, hands-on plenary by Dr Jodie Clark.
Jodie’s recent book Selves, Bodies and the Grammar of Social Worlds: Re imagining Social Change (Palgrave)  illustrates how the grammatical analysis of everyday accounts reveals innovative ways of imagining social structure. Her analysis of conversational texts reveals a way of seeing the social world as in an embodied relationship with embodied selves. Jodie  talks about her explorations in her weekly podcasts called Structured visions.
Her plenary is entitled 'The Grammar of Social Change.'

Dr Chrissie Rogers to deliver a Keynote address: ‘Re-humanising education and intellectual disability: a care-full proposal?’

The Nordic Centre of Excellence: Justice through education in the Nordic countries at the University of Helsinki has invited Dr Chrissie Rogers to speak as their Keynote address at a conference called Disability and Post-Compulsory Education. Her keynote address is called ‘Re-humanising education and intellectual disability: a care-full proposal?’ and addresses issues relating to social justice, relationality, care, and ethics. She utilises her care ethics model of disability within the school system where ethical and care-full work via emotional, practical and socio-political caring spheres is crucial to effective child development. She will argue that learning – whether formal or informal - within education is potentially full of  care-less spaces. Further, the school, as an institution, is a micro social system within the socio-political sphere, where a broader picture of social justice/injustice, exclusion/inclusion, success/failure, and privilege/discrimination can be charted. Dr Rogers advocates that schools must be fully socially inclusive in order to ensure that everyone receives a meaningful and care-full education. Prescriptive curricula, however, work against this aspiration for intellectually disabled children. Consequently, education needs re-humanising. Rather than following a path of blame, whether it is the dysfunctional family, the ‘deficit’ child or the economically deprived nation, she suggests we require ethically just practices and caring as a fundamental part of a re-humanised education.

Language, Literacy and Identity: Your Thoughts 

The blog for the recent Language, Literacy and Identity International Conference that was held on 1st - 2nd July 2016 can be found here.

Religion, Gender and Sexualities One-Day Conference

Friday 1st July 2016, 10.00-16.30, Cadbury Room, Aston University, Birmingham, UK

An inaugural event to celebrate the formation of the “Gender, Sexualities and the Body” and “Religion, Ethnicity and Nationhood” research streams.

Dr Katy Pilcher and Dr Sarah-Jane Page are excited to announce that the programme has been realised for their one-day conference entitled Religion, Gender and Sexualities, taking place in the Cadbury Room on Friday 1st July. 

"We were inundated with abstracts, and we have presenters attending from across the UK, as well as further afield. Please see the event’s programme attached – if you would like to come for the full day, we do have a number of places available (lunch and refreshments will be included). Please email Katy and myself by next Wednesday if you would like to join us, letting us know of any dietary requirements. Alternatively, please feel free to dip in and out of any sessions that are of particular interest. We do hope you can join us."

Download the full programme HERE.

Problematising Citizenship: Protest and the Contested Civic Sphere

CCISC Seminar. 29th June, 13.00-17.00

In the wake of a series of major terrorist attacks and the post-2008 crisis of late capitalism, western liberal democratic states have increasingly sought to redefine the nature and conditions of inclusion and participation in the civic sphere. This seminar discusses how social movement campaigns have sought to challenge and re-articulate this reduction of democratic space, and problematizes the development of discourses of citizenship, and the meanings, ideas and boundary-marking practices that underpin them.

In the first session, we discuss the articulation of citizenship within the 'movements of the squares' in southern Europe. The political economy of fiscal austerity has not only radically reduced the public sphere through the 'structural reform' of public services and welfare regimes, but further entrenched the 'post-democratic' dynamic of European representative democracies which privileges corporate power over collective public participation in decision-making. In this context, we discuss how the notion of the 'citizen' has developed as a central figure in indignados movements, and what it means for the potential of a new democratic settlement. 

In the second session, we examine spaces, modes and practices of contestation over the boundaries of civic membership. Recent studies have problematized the binary definition of citizenship and noncitizenship, suggesting that such a definition between citizenship (as inclusion) and noncitizenship (as simply the negation of citizenship) fails to capture the complex contours of inclusion and exclusion which shape contemporary societies. This session draws on this work to raise critical questions for how we understand the practice of political participation in relation to those excluded or marginalised by regimes of citizenship. 
Drawing on interdisciplinary perspectives from migration studies, social movement studies, critical policy studies and political theory, the seminar aims to explore how categories of citizenship are constructed and operationalised, and how dynamics of inclusion and exclusion, citizenship and noncitizenship, create spaces and silences of political participation. 

Speakers included:

Paulo Gerbaudo (Kings, London): The Indignant Citizen: From the Politics of Autonomy to the Politics of Radical Citizenship
One of the most significant features of Southern European anti-austerity movements of the Indignados in Spain and the Aganaktismenoi in Greece is what has sometimes been described as ‘citizenism’, the radical recuperation of the idea of citizenship as a central feature of movement discourse and claim-making. This trend has been seen in repeated references to the citizens and the citizenry as the subject mobilised in the protest, as well as in demands for a restoration and expansion of citizenship rights put forward by popular assemblies and in the manifestos of key protest organisations. On the one hand, citizenship discourse has acted as a source of collective identity, unifying a variety of economic grievances produced by the financial crisis (indebtedness, unemployment, labour precariety) around the inclusive subject position of the citizen, or better of the ‘aggrieved citizen’, that is, a citizen who feels deprived of citizenship rights. On the other hand, citizenship has provides a unifying framework of claim-making, focusing on the project of ‘opening up’ the State through new forms of direct democracy. Anti-austerity movements have thus departed from both autonomous movements, who wanted to position themselves completely ‘outside and against the state’, and the social democratic tradition that aimed to ‘conquer the state’. Protesters have put forward an anti-oligarchic view of citizenship that aims at re-asserting the power of the dispersed citizens against the concentrated force of economic and political elites, and overcoming the limits of representative democracy through an extension of popular participation in decision-making.

Cristina Flesher Fominaya (Aberdeen): We are the 99%? Problematizing the construction of ‘citizen’ as political collective identity
The wave of anti-austerity and pro-democracy movements that swept the globe since 2011 have shared a number of key features, among them the tactic of occupation as protest and the framing of the political subject as ‘ordinary citizen’. The frame of ‘ordinary citizen’ (the 99%, the ‘people’ or the ‘pueblo’) as collective political actor has been very effective in calling political and economic elites to account for their policies on behalf of the 1% (or the ‘caste’ in the case of Spain). This frame has been crucial in resignifying the public squares as political agoras and heterotopic spaces that represent a participatory alternative to representative democracy. In this talk I will explore the effectiveness of this framing but also problematize it, drawing on examples from Spain's 15-M movement.

Heather Johnson (Queens, Belfast): These Fine Lines: Locating Noncitizenship in Political Protest in Europe
Since 2012, refugee protest camps and occupations have been established throughout Europe that contest the exclusion of refugees and asylum seekers, but that also make concrete demands for better living conditions and basic rights. It is a movement that is led by migrants as noncitizens, and so reveals new ways of thinking of the political agency and status of noncitizenship not as simply reactive to an absence of citizenship, but as a powerful and transgressive subjectivity in its own right. This paper argues that we should resist collapsing analysis back into the frameworks of citizenship, and instead be attentive to the politics of presence and solidarity manifest in these protest camps as a way of understanding, and engaging, noncitizen activism.

Amanda Beattie (Aston): Mobility Trauma and the 2012 Family Immigration Rules: Attending to the Need for Unorthodox Agency
There is, I believe, a trauma that emerges from within the lived experience of mobility politics. The denial of mobility rights, as enshrined in Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and Protocol No. 4 of the European Convention on Human Rights, leading to the separation of families, friends and communities in the most basic iteration of mobility trauma. How might scholars of politics and international relations attend to this experience helping those who experience mobility trauma, especially when it is a traumatic experience prompted by the state and its institutions? This article suggests, and defends the assertion, that in order to attend, and negotiate, this trauma, traditional discourses of moral agency will fail. Cosmopolitan and communitarian iterations of agency, I contend, reinforce situations of partial or full exile instead of helping the disposed and disenfranchised to regain a sense of power and autonomy in the world. I turn to a narrative framing of the political, and mobility politics therein, in order to interrogate this experience. I propose to the reader that within the discourse of psychotherapy, and narrative therapy in particular, there is an alternative mode of being political that can attend to mobility trauma.

Round Table 16.15-17.00
‘Citizenship’: An Outdated or Vital Paradigm?

Amanda Beattie, Pablo Calderon-Martinez, Cristina Flesher Fominaya, Paulo Gerbaudo, Graeme Hayes, Heather Johnson, Jelena Obradovic-Wochnik, and Katie Tonkiss

This closing roundtable offers a critical engagement with the concept of citizenship. It debates key questions in the study of spaces and modes of political participation from a range of interdisciplinary perspectives, with the aim of problematizing the extent to which the citizenship paradigm captures the lived realities of inclusion and exclusion in contemporary societies.

Religion, Gender and Sexualities One-Day Conference

Friday 1st July 2016, 10.00-16.30

Aston University, Birmingham, UK

Guest speaker:
 Dr Kristin Aune, Senior Research Fellow, Coventry University: “Feminist Spirituality as Lived Religion: How UK Feminists forge Religio-spiritual Lives”

To celebrate the formation of the Gender, Sexualities and the Body and the Religion, Ethnicity and Nationhood research streams within the Centre for Critical Inquiry into Society and Culture at Aston University, we are hosting a joint inaugural event. Entitled ‘Religion, Gender and Sexualities’, this one-day conference will explore the intersection of religion, gender and sexualities within everyday contexts. Scholarship has started to unpack these multi-faceted relationships, but this is still an emerging research area which requires further study and exploration. We welcome abstracts which address any element of this relationship and could include (but are not limited to) the following themes:

  • Sexual practices and negotiations within religious environments
  • LGBTQIA experiences and religion
  • Sexuality support networks within religious communities
  • Singleness; celibacy
  • Gendered power negotiations in intimate relationships
  • Marital experiences
  • Commitment ceremonies (e.g. civil partnerships, marriage)
  • Parenthood/non-parenthood
  • Virginity
  • Monogamy/Polygamy/Polyamory
  • Embodiment and religion
  • Gender, sexual and religious identities in different contexts (e.g. the workplace, leisure)
  • Religious ritual, gender and sexuality

Professional Development with Dr Anne Marie Trester

The founder of Career Linguist and founding member of the Linguistics Beyond Academia SIG for the Linguistic Society of America, Anna is currently an associate at the FrameWorks Institute, Washington DC. Her interest in educating students about applying their linguistic knowledge to professional contexts started when she directed the MA in Language & Communication at Georgetown University, USA.  She is currently writing a book on the same topic.

On 1 March 2016, Dr Anne Marie Trester will hold two interactive workshops:

  • Life After a Linguistics Degree: Career Paths and Professional Development
    The interactive workshop approaches career exploration from a linguistic lens. The workshop begins by outlining potential career paths for linguists and then turns to the series of texts and interactions that comprise job searching. Professor Trester demonstrates how a linguist’s eye is invaluable in navigating the professional world. Highly recommended to all undergraduate and postgraduate students on English language and Applied linguistics degree programmes, but open to all interested in the topic! The talk is followed by an opportunity to chat to Anna about job searching, and CV writing. Refreshments will be provided!
  • The Language of LinkedIn: Interactional Sociolinguistics and Social Networking
    LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network and is fast becoming one of the most important ways to connect with employers, partners, mentors, former colleagues, employees, subject matter experts and clients. Thus, the communication which takes place here (or which could, but doesn’t) is tremendously valuable. Why not use your linguistic knowledge to your advantage?

    The workshop  provides a general overview of LinkedIn and interactional practices such as connecting, referring, endorsing, joining groups and following organizations.We will consider how the activities on the site work and why it is about so much more than someone’s profile. Finally, drawing from a corpus of LinkedIn profiles Anna will describe noted patterns of professional self-presentation that will enable you to be better understand the benefits of joining this conversation!


Linguistics Beyond Academia with Dr Anne Marie Trester

Having a background in linguistics gives people a unique set of analytical and communicative skills which are truly helpful in the world of work. But identifying these skills and learning about how and where they can be applied is not always straightforward. In this talk Anna will be using case studies and real-life examples - including her job at the FrameWorks Institute - to show how far linguistics can take us beyond academia. 

Midlands Youth Labour Market Forum

This event follows the first meeting of MYLMF at the University of Warwick in November 2015. The second meeting at Aston will bring together regional policy-makers, employers and representatives of organisations that work with and for young people and who are concerned about their transitions from education to employment. 

Rethinking migration for a good society

Dr Katherine Tonkiss was invited to write a report for Compass, a left-leaning national think tank, on migration rights and social justice. Read it here.

Join the conversation - Syrian refugees

Dr Katherine Tonkiss, Dr Amanda Beattie and Dr Jelena Obradovic-Wochnik will be hosting an event on the refugee crisis on 21 October. The discussion will ask whether or not the UK should be accepting more refugees from war-torn Syria. 

French in Multilingual Urban Centres Conference at Aston University (Friday 12th – 13th June)

Emmanuelle Labeau is organising a two-day conference which will conclude a pilot study, French as Spoken in Brussels, funded by the British Academy. The project aims to conduct, to transcribe and to disseminate online sociolinguistc interviews with born and bred inhabitants of Brussels in order to provide an authentic snapshot of French as it is spoken nowadays in Brussels.

In addition to presenting the project’s results, the conference’s purposes are to offer networking opportunities to researchers working on French in multilingual urban centres and a springboard for new collaborations and research directions.

The conference welcomes any presentation on French in a multilingual urban environment, irrespective of its focus: contact phenomena, changes or linguistic planning.  Presentations about existing or planned corpora and resources are welcome. More specifically, the programme will revolve around 4 specific areas

Research strands

Strand 1: Language policy in officially multilingual spaces

In many parts of the worlds, French officially co-exists with other languages.  Autochthonous language, language of implantation or of (post)colonisation, how is the status of French evolving? This strand welcomes discussions around issues of language planning and its fallouts.

Strand 2: Spaces of language contact 

The vagaries of history and migration movements have put French in contact with other languages, some of which are typologically very remote. What are the consequences on discursive practices including French? Discussions about code-switching and code mixing would be relevant in this section.

Strand 3: Influence of language contact on language evolution

Language contact can lead to adopting foreign features but also to encouraging word coinage. In extreme cases, it can result in forsaking one language for another. Phenomena of that type will be addressed here.

Strand 4 : Linguistic Data

In the last half century, large corpora have emerged and developed thanks to technological development. This strand will be devoted to the presentation and the exploitation of corpora of French in multilingual spaces of any kind.

Professor Judith Baxter is giving a presentation entitled: ‘The Language of Women Leaders’ on Monday 16th March for the Birmingham Chambers of Commerce Women in Business Conference at De Vere Venues Colmore Gate, Colmore Road, Birmingham, B3 2QD.

Aston University is a member of the Women In Business Group and all Aston staff and students are welcome to attend.

The joint CCISC/ACE series of events in collaboration with the European Commission launches this week with ‘HEAR ME OUT’ an open-door event for young people on Thursday 29 January between 3.00pm  and 6.00pm  at Bournville College, Longbridge.  The Award-winning social enterprise, Beatfreeks, founded in Birmingham by Aston graduate,  Anisa Haghdadi,  will be running conversations and workshops with young people drawn from the local community and students at the College and there will also be performances, live music and food – all for free!

The second event takes place at The Drum Arts Centre in Aston on Thursday 19 February starting at 6.30pm. This is aimed  engaging with young people from the area and will be presented by Little Miss Creative, an innovative social enterprise founded by Selina Brown. 

The two events provide a platform for young people’s voices to be heard from different communities across the city and their views will be fed back to an expert panel of speakers at Aston University on 26 February.

Professor Judith Baxter, Professor of Applied Linguistics at Aston University, has joined forces with the Greater Birmingham Chamber of Commerce (GBCC) to launch the online series entitled  ‘Using Language Effectively’.

She will also talk about the series at a GBCC’s Women in Business conference at De Vere Venues, Colmore Gate, on March 17. Other speakers includeinclude Lorely Burt, MP for Solihull, Sameena Ali Khan, ITV Central presenter, and Patricia Freshwater, of Business Adrenaline. The event will also include a company case study and a panel discussion.

Professor Baxter said: “In the run up to International Women’s Day it is important to both celebrate the successes of women in business, and offer support for those still looking to make their mark. The ‘Using Language Effectively’ series is a valuable resource for all aspiring women.”

Prof Baxter will be speaking about the ‘Using Language Effectively’ resource – which can be found on the Chamber website -  and her research at the Chambers’ Women in Business Conference on March 17. 

For more information click here to view Judith Baxter's staff profile or click hereto visit the blog. 

Date: Monday 12th May
Time: 6:00-7.30pm 

This event is being run by CCISC in partnership with the European Commission. The aim of the project is to engage young people from the Birmingham community using performances and open discussions to look at issues which affect them, primarily focusing on the impact of the European Union on their life chances. Jill Robinson, coordinator of CITISPYCE, will introduce the event and the main presentation will be led by a dynamic arts group named Beakfreeks. For more information about Beatfreeks visit:

You do not have to register to attend this event. Click here  to download the flyer.

What we have done so far:

On Tuesday 8th April 2014, we hosted ‘Freedom to Speak’ at the Library of Birmingham. We were fortunate to be joined by young volunteers from CITY YEAR and two young people from the EU, Davide from Italy and Monika from Poland. Davide and Monika shared their experiences with us and many young people got involved in the open discussions. From this event, we were invited by CITY YEAR to deliver Beatfreek’s performance in local sixth form colleges. This will be another great opportunity to find out what more young people have to say! To find out what we are doing at these events, a short video clip will be available to stream in due course.

The global human capital research and advisory firm Cape Group are currently gathering input from leading practitioners and academics on cutting edge thinking and best practice in creating a more inclusive working environment for all employees. By interviewing practitioners and academics from the UK, Europe, Singapore and Australia, this research shares knowledge and experience in order to support Diversity & Inclusion practitioners in achieving their business goals.

Dr Fitzgerald was invited to take part in this important global initiative and was interviewed in late 2013.  Dr Fitzgerald is a globally recognized expert in the areas of Organisation Psychology and Workplace Diversity. Dr Fitzgerald provided Cape Group with valuable insights on strategies in organizations based in the UK for building and maintaining a diverse and inclusive workforce. 

For more information click here or

Date: Tuesday, April 22, 2014
Place: British Council, 10 Spring Gardens, SW1A London

This seminar led by Dr. Urszula Clark, draws upon recent, Economic and Social Science Research Council (ESRC) funded research into the relationship between English and social, regional and national identities. This research contributes to a shift in conceptual thinking about language(s) and varieties from being perceived as static, totalised and immobile to being more dynamic, fragmented and mobile. Such research has implications for language and education policies not only within the UK, but also the

teaching of English worldwide. Increasingly, variation of English is coming to mark an identity linked with physical and imagined places and spaces in ways that cut across other factors such as age, gender, social class and ethnicity that also mark a shift in thinking from language ‘deficit’ to language ‘difference.’ In line with this change, there has been a corresponding ‘weakening’ of the role of traditional gatekeepers of a single, monolithic variety of English such as the BBC, certain aspects of the media and corpus approaches to the compilation of dictionaries and grammars of English. In addition, one of the paradoxes of the use of English across the world for the purposes of communication in the global media, trade, travel, medicine and so on has been that the majority of the world’s population today is largely bilingual, if not multilingual, both within and beyond nations where English is the mother tongue. This seminar then, explores such issues in relation to the teaching of English worldwide, and particularly the debate of the local teacher of English as native speaker versus multilingual local teachers who are expert users of English.

Click here to read the blog. 

Click here to watch the video. 

Université Saint-Louis - Bruxelles

This expert workshop marks the offical launch of the British Academy Project 'French as spoken in Brussels', led by Dr Emmanuelle Labeau (Aston) in collaboration with Dr Anne Dister (unversite St Louis, Brussels), and Prof. Florence Lefeubvre (Paris 3 - Sorbonne Nouvelle). The aim of the project is to collect spoken data on French varieties spoken in Brussels and make it available online. The project has been inspired by the Corpus de francais parle parisien (CFPP2000).

The project gathers data through sociolinguistic interviews focusing on people's perceptions of their urban environment. 

Click here to download the event programme. 

Launch of major EU Research Project investigating Social Innovation and Young People


CCISC, the Centre for Critical Inquiry into Society and Culture, invites you to the launch of CITISPYCE by Professor  Dame Julia King, Vice Chancellor, Aston University, a  major EU research project into the changing terrain of social inequalities, and the existence of social innovation among young people in cities across Europe.

Coordinated by CCISC for Aston University, CITISPYCE is a 3 year collaborative project funded under the European Commission’s FP7 Social Science and Humanities Research and Development Programme. Aston University is working with Birmingham City Council  and 11 other partners from 10 countries across the EU, in a unique  interdisciplinary collaboration  between academics, policy makers, practitioners and civil society activists.  

CITISPYCE’s objectives include:

  • examining the current state of the art concerning social innovation and  young people;

  • uncovering innovative strategies for navigating, surviving and overcoming inequalities that have emerged, or are emerging, among young people;

  • testing the transferability of local models of innovative practice, through a series of pilot activities helping to develop new policy approaches that encourage social innovation by and for young people at EU, national and local levels;

  • contributing new frameworks for understanding social inequalities

Your Europe? Your Future?

CCISC, in partnership with the European Commission, launched the first in a series of 5 events entitled ‘Your Europe? Your Future?’ The event focused on unemployment in the EU and the prospects for new graduates in the labour market. The issue is of particular interest to students in the UK, given that 5.5 million of under 25’s in Europe are currently unemployed and the competition for graduate entry jobs is greater than ever.

Jason Wouhra, Director of East End Foods and Chair of the Institute of Directors West Midlands region, and Victoria Quinn, Councillor for Sparkbrook, Birmingham and former senior European Commission official were the guest speakers at this lunch-time seminar held on Monday 4th November 2013.

Jason and Victoria began the event with anecdotes of their career paths and gave their perspectives on how to be successful when competing with other students across the EU.

Jason suggested that the route to success is by capturing the attention of the employer in the first few words of a CV and by showing that you are a ‘talented’ individual. He also emphasised the importance of ‘intrapreneurship’, where independent, imaginative and innovative approaches really help to make you stand out within a company.

Victoria reassured audience members that not having a set career plan when you leave university does not mean you will never find job opportunities, as sometimes those jobs that come by ‘accident’ could lead you to a brighter future. She encouraged people to find ‘the red thread’ that joins together all the career choices and other decisions you make in life, such as an interest in politics, volunteering, project management, etc. as this will provide a linking theme in your CV and will provide your employer a better understanding of your career aspirations.

After their presentations, both speakers participated in a general question and answer session, and then spent time with individual students. The event was an overall success, attracting audience members from different parts of the EU and beyond.

Listen to the recording of the presentations

  • How do local people feel about their neighbourhood, the city and changes faced by Birmingham?
  • What do people think about poverty in the city and are we missing key issues by using mainstream definitions of deprivation? 
  • What do people think about politics and their own political representatives?

What do Birmingham residents think about their neighbourhoods, their political representatives and poverty in the city? This event drew on research carried out in inner and outer Birmingham with local residents.Read the report

Plenary speakers:

  • Prof. Joan Beal, University of Sheffield (UK)
  • Prof. Barbara Johnstone, Carnegie Mellon University (USA)
  • Prof. Yaron Matras, University of Manchester (UK)

Regional varieties have become an important contributor to identity construction processes, and an increasingly important issue for the individual and the community in late Modernity: the individual is under constant and increasing pressure to define who s/he is and has to choose from an ever growing pool of possibilities to construct social identity in an increasingly globalized world, which is perceived as incromprehensively complex. By referring to what is seen as traditional regional language, dialect and culture, localizing oneself seems to be a viable way out of this dilemma. This should have stabilizing effects on lesser used varieties, which have been facing a gradual process of language shift and divergence towards dominant contact languages over the hundred years. Unfortunately, at the same time, modern life does not so much require knowledge of regional varieties as of standard languages and a good command of English as the global lingua franca. How can an upwardly mobile individual combine the requirements of modern life with identity construction on a regional scale if they so choose? What are the linguistic consequences for lesser used varieties and their respective contact languages?

Focussing on the individual speaker and the speech community which is created by the use of language(s) as social practice, the conference organizers welcome papers and posters on the following fields of research:

  • • Language contact between a lesser used regional variety and a dominant standard language.
  • • Identity and regional varieties;
  • • Indexicality and enregisterment;
  • • Variation and style;
  • • Postvernacular linguistic and cultural practices;
  • • Emblematic language use and language mixing;
  • • Lesser used regional varieties and the Internet;
  • • Regional varieties and linguistic landscapes;
  • • New approaches to dialectology.

Why women's jokes fall flat in the boardroom

Professor Judith Baxter's research featured in the Guardian. Click here to read more.

By'eck, accents are thriving: Regional dialects are getting stronger as people aim to retain a sense of identity

Aston research featured in the Daily Mail. Click here to read more.