Registration Open: Digital Modern Languages virtual seminar, Wednesday 1 July, 3-5pm (BST)

Following the call for doctoral research presentations, we are pleased to announce the speakers for our second Digital Modern Languages virtual seminar scheduled at 3-5pm (BST) on Wednesday 1 July 2020. The seminar will include four 15-minute presentations, followed by a Q & A session with all presenters. 

Advance registration at the following link is essential in order to be given access to the seminar:

Seminar speakers and abstracts

Alice Gasparini (University G.D’Annunzio, Chieti and Pescara) – Usability and User Experience in a digital SLA context

Usability is an attribute of the broader concept User Experience and it describes the ease of use of a system from users’ point of view. The PHD project here presented, carried out at the University G.D’Annunzio in joint supervision with the University for Foreigners of Siena, investigates these two ideas applied to e-learning and SLA.

The project considers two different learning environments Moodle (an LMS) and WordPress (a CMS) and compares them from a usability point of view. An Italian as L2 course was implemented within the two platforms and then tested with students both in presence and online. The data about usability were collected on both systems through a tracking software of users’ behaviour, surveys and interviews.

The course, called Scorci Italiani, (Italian Glimpses), was created for students with a A2/B1 level of Italian. Both version, Moodle and WordPress, can be found here:

The contribution will present the different stages of the project and the first insights coming from the data collection.

Aishowarza Manik (Dublin City University) – Developing learner autonomy of Chinese L2 learners through WeChat

The “Digital Bangladesh Vision” (aka “Vision 2021”), launched in 2009, identifies Information and Communication Technology as key in eradicating poverty and improving the quality of education. In parallel, China’s “one-belt-one-road” initiative is having a positive impact on the Bangladeshi economy and has led to a significant increase in the demand for Chinese language instruction at all levels of the education sector. However, despite the government’s efforts to reform the curriculum and introduce digital pedagogies, traditional teacher-centred pedagogies remain prevalent. Learners have thus few opportunities to develop the competencies and skills necessary for the realisation of Vision 2021 while becoming proficient users of Chinese. This collaborative action-research project aims to investigate the development of learner autonomy via WeChat and autonomous language use among Bangladeshi learners of Chinese. Data will be collected from students’ reflective journals, their WeChat logs, and interviews. At the end of each cycle, this researcher will code and analyse data to revise the design and implementation of learning activities in subsequent cycles.        

Jade McGlynn (University of Oxford) – Russian Media and Historical Framing: Conflating the Ukraine Crisis and the Great Patriotic War

In this presentation, I detail findings from a discourse analysis of 634 articles and broadcasts from pro-government Russian domestic media coverage of the 2014 Ukraine Crisis. The sources analysed were located online and I examine how these sources employed a similar narrative that conflated the Ukraine Crisis with the Great Patriotic War. I describe this technique of conflation as historical framing, a concept I explain in the talk. Across the sources analysed, I located over 3,509 individual references conflating the Ukraine Crisis with the Great Patriotic War. As I will detail, these references belonged to one of four themes, or sub-narratives: depicting Maidan protesters as Nazi collaborators; the Ukrainians and the West as akin to Nazis; the Ukraine conflict as a rerun of the Great Patriotic War; and the Russian Spring as a new Great Victory (of 1945). This thematic emplotment also reflected the order of events in the Russian official narrative of the Great Patriotic War, meaning that the sources both thematically and structurally conflated the Ukraine Crisis with the events of 1941-1945, a process I describe as chronological mirroring. In conclusion, I argue that the media’s use of historical framing was part of the Russian government and Ministry of Culture’s stated aim to promote ‘historical cultural consciousness’ through creating digital and physical ways to engage with history.

Carlos Yebra Lopez (New York University) – A Digital Discourse Analysis of the Spanish Mass Press Coverage of so-called “Jihadist Terrorism” (2004/2017)

In my doctoral dissertation I draw upon digital discourse analysis and digital cultural studies to study the ideological representation of the notions of “democracy,” “terrorism” and “jihad” in the Spanish newspapers of record ​El Mundo and ​El País apropos the attacks of Madrid (2004) and Barcelona (2017).

For the analysis of my corpus (with a primary focus on Spanish, plus some words in Arabic and Catalan) I utilize ​Voyant Tools​, a web-based reading and analysis environment for digital texts. This application provides researchers with a list of the most frequent words as displayed in a word cloud or ​cirrus​, the most common collocations, the frequency of certain linguistic metaphors, and trends, i.e., a visualization representing the frequencies of terms across documents in a corpus or across segments in a document. In my case, this data has been instrumental in understanding the functioning of the misnomer “jihad” as the last in a series of propagandistic ideologemes disseminated by the Spanish mainstream press since the so-called “Spanish Transition to Democracy” (1975-82) in order to facilitate the State’s governance of Spain not only ​despite​ terrorism, but also ​through​ its discursive exploitation.

This series is part of the AHRC-funded Open World Research Initiative, and is supported by OWRI projects Cross-Language Dynamics: Reshaping Community and Language Acts and Worldmaking projects, and by the AHRC Leadership Fellow for Modern Languages (Janice Carruthers). The series is convened by Paul Spence (King’s College London) and Naomi Wells (Institute of Modern Languages Research).