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Dr Ben Clarke

(Former)

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Biography

In April 2012, I completed my PhD, which explored the relationship between language and context in a Hallidayan, systemic functional paradigm. I continue to carry out this corpus-informed work into the semantic and contextual motives for lexical and particularly grammatical features. More recently, my research interests have focused on the media and the political, particularly the intersection of these two spheres.

I have published, and continue to publish, in the aforementioned areas. I have also been involved in a number of funded research projects relating to embodied multimodal communication (funded by Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft), language use in citizen science platform Zooniverse (funded by monies from the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences and from the Centre for European and International Studies Research, both at the University of Portsmouth) and communicative dynamism (supported by funding from the ‘Language Learning’ journal).

I have taught widely across English Language subjects, particularly at undergraduate level, at the Universities of Leeds, Cardiff and York St John, and now at the University of Portsmouth.

Research Interests

I have three main sets of research interests. First are corpus-informed inquiries into semantic and contextual motives for lexical and particularly grammatical features. I carry out this research by considering both choices specific to individual texts and particular text-genres, and in considering patterned language change across shorter time-spans than has traditionally been the object of study in diachronic linguistics. This work follows from my doctoral research which explored the relationship between language and context in a Hallidayan, systemic functional paradigm.

Secondly, I inquire into the media and the political, particularly the intersection of these two spheres. I am interested in how ideologies are constructed discursively in traditional journalistic media, particularly when they are used in an attempt to reinforce the political, economic and cultural status quo and/or to construct those at sharp end of social structure in a negative light. I am keen to explore opportunities to equip those outside of academia with tools to become improved critical readers of political-media texts. My research in this area also considers how news media practices impact on language use.

Thirdly, I am interested in what I would perceive to be an increasingly prominent role given in society to the use and variety of discourses of public participation (e.g. user-generated material on news websites, discussion forums on citizen science platforms, reality TV shows, microblogging, etc.). One particular matter therein which concerns me is whether or not this trend towards public participation genres has a democratising effect on society or not; how and why; why this might be desirable anyway; etc.

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