Exploring the connections between language and emotions in research and higher education

Wednesday, 27 March 2019

Exploring the connections between language and emotions in research and higher education

Oxford Brookes University hosted a workshop earlier this month (1 March 2019) at which academics from a wide range of disciplines discussed how language features as themes in research on emotion.

The event also explored how language and language-practices influence the everyday work of researchers and teachers of higher education.

It was very encouraging to welcome colleagues from across Oxford Brookes and the wider higher education sector for lively and informed discussion at this workshop. I look forward to further research and understanding being developed in this important area.

Dr Ingrid A. Medby, Senior Lecturer in Political Geography

Entitled Language and Emotion: From Research to Practice, the event was motivated by the recognition that despite academia’s diversity, dividing lines often run along specialist language or jargon, as well as language abilities and communication styles.

It built on a previous seminar series called Emotions Across the Disciplines and a virtual Emotions Book Club, and drew together different strands of research currently taking place across the University.

Some of the issues that arose at this month’s event included free speech in a time of ‘fake news’, recorded lectures and self-censorship, the labelling and naming of emotions, relations between first and second-languages, and the emotional capacities of divergent modes of digital communication.

The workshop involved keynote lectures by historian Dr Tiffany Watt Smith (Queen Mary University of London), author of The Book of Human Emotions (2015) and Schadenfreude (2018), and translator and interpreter Dr Séverine Hubscher-Davidson (Open University), author of Translation and Emotion: A Psychological Perspective (2017).

The event’s organisers were Dr Ingrid A. Medby, Senior Lecturer in Political Geography in the Department of Social Sciences, and Dr Sally Holloway, Vice Chancellor’s Research Fellow in History & History of Art in the School of History, Philosophy and Culture. Financial support for the event was provided by both of these Oxford Brookes departments as well as the AHRC-funded project Language Acts and Worldmaking.

Dr Medby commented: “The long-term objectives of the workshop were to strengthen interdisciplinary connections and build networks, both of which we achieved. At the close of the day, lively conversation continued where collaborative papers were being discussed alongside ideas for future events and partnerships. 

“It was very encouraging to welcome colleagues from across Oxford Brookes and the wider higher education sector for lively and informed discussion at this workshop. I look forward to further research and understanding being developed in this important area.”