FEMINIST CAFÉ: Feminism in the Media and Media Sexism

Dr Katy Pilcher and Dr Olga Castro are welcoming all to join them for an informal discussion around the topic of: ‘Feminism in the Media and Media Sexism’.

They will be discussing extracts from the following, as well as any of the group’s own observations of media sexism, or the way that feminism is represented within the media that individuals would like to share:

 Rosalind Gill (2011) ‘Sexism Reloaded, or, it’s Time to get Angry Again!’, Feminist Media
Studies, 11(1): 61-71.

 Terese Jonsson (2014) ‘White Feminist Stories: Locating race in representations of feminism
in The Guardian’, Feminist Media Studies, 14(6): 1012-1027

If you are a member of staff or a postgraduate student, please get in touch to let us know that
you’d like to join us and to get your copy of the articles from:

Dr Katy Pilcher, Sociology and Policy (K.Pilcher@aston.ac.uk)
Dr Olga Castro, Languages and Translation Studies (O.Castro@aston.ac.uk)

Informal discussion will be held Thursday 12th February 4pm in the Cadbury Room (10th floor of North Wing). Please feel free to bring your own drinks/snacks.


Computer-mediated communication and discourse research in the Midlands

Erika Darics and Stephen Pihlaja are organising a networking event for PhD Students and early career researchers.

Interested in the Midlands CMC/CMD researchers’ network meeting on 13 March 2015?
To sign up for the event, please complete the form at http://goo.gl/forms/wPs4NZGJsO.

The event is in the Cadbury Room at Aston University from 14:00 to 17:00.

For directions, please refer to http://www.aston.ac.uk/about/directions/
The Cadbury room is in the North building, accessible through the Main Entrance to the Main Building.

For further information please do contact either Interland or Stephen.


The Language of Women Leaders

 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.

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.

A 400-word abstract (including references) will provide the background for the paper, the research question(s) and an overview of the results.

It will be submitted through Easychairby 31 st January 2015.

31st  January 2015 : Abstract Submission

31st March 2015 : Acceptation notification

1st April 2015 : registration opens

15th May 2015 : Final programme

12th-13th  June 2015 : Conference

Exciting Upcoming Events…Come join us…

The joint InterLanD/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.

Interland Debates: What are the Interests of the ‘White Working Class’?

debate graphic

This month, Interland began an exciting new series of twitter debates on the theme of ‘Community and Superdiversity’. The question posed for our first debate was ‘what are the interests of the white working class, and how can the leading political parties meet them more effectively?’ This is a current political hot topic. Chris Blackhurst, writing for the Independent last week, said that the white working class ‘feel totally disenfranchised from the world inhabited by the leaders of the three main parties’. In a paper published last month, leading Politics scholars Matthew Goodwin and Robert Ford (2014) describe these voters as the ‘left behind’, and show how they are being targeted by the controversial but increasingly popular UK Independence Party (UKIP).


Twitter posts are constrained to 140 characters so for those contributing, getting their point across was an exercise in concision! Nevertheless, we received a range of fascinating responses.

For many, the question itself was at issue, as well as our use of the category ‘white working class’. Judith Baxter points out that ‘white working class’ is a construct devised by Marxist sociologists and the left of centre press. For Jai Mackenzie, ‘white working class’, like other constructs that categorise vast numbers of diverse individuals under one umbrella term, is not helpful, and can in itself contribute to the perpetuation of inequalities. Carey Burke, too, acknowledges that the term is a ‘leftist construct’, and suggests that the question we should be asking is why the political ‘right’ has co-opted this term.

jbaxter response

The issue of social inequality took high priority in the debate. For example, Katie Tonkiss suggests that the recent political focus on working class interests it is the result of decades of ‘inadequate responses to social inequalities’. For Demelza Jones, responding to social inequalities is in everyone’s interests.


The demonization of the ‘working classes’ is something that couldn’t be ignored in our debate. Carey Burke highlights the popularity of the word ‘CHAV’ (commonly thought to be an acronym of ‘Council Housed and Violent’), which he suggests has now replaced the term ‘white working class’, and that this group are ‘society’s perceived new underclass’. As Jai Mackenzie points out, this term is the focus of Joe Bennett’s research in the sociolinguistic field. Bennett points out, incidentally, that the etymology of the term has nothing to do with acronym ‘Council Housed and Violent’; rather, this meaning was later mapped on to the term to match its perceived meaning.


It’s clear that our contributors are well aware of the worn-out stereotypes and generalisations based on ‘class’. Suzanne Moore’s article in the Guardian on November 26th, hyperlinked by Demelza, deals with this very issue. She despairs at the patronising image of the working class as an ‘intolerant blob’. But, Tim Grant argues, there is a sad lack of positive representatives of working class individuals in the public eye and this makes it difficult to escape these stereotypes.


Moore also offers an explanation for UKIP’s adoption of the ‘working classes’, suggesting that UKIP capitalises on people’s anxieties and insecurities ‘by pretending it can reinstate a certain past’. Katie Tonkiss’ contribution offers further insights into UKIP’s appeal to the working classes.  She suggests that the alienation of the ‘white working class’ from politics is related to the growth of ‘career politicians’. Farage’s image, she says, appeals to those who have been alienated, or to use Goodwin and Ford’s term, ‘left behind’; he is meant to seem more ‘in touch’ than his political counterparts.


Thanks to everyone who contributed to our first debate. We’re looking forward to the next debate in our ‘Community and Superdiversity’ series, and welcome any suggestions for the next topic!

Interland Researcher of the Month: Olga Castro

Bringing us in to the festive season this month is Dr Olga Castro, Lecturer in Translation Studies and Spanish. Here’s what Olga has to say about her love of research, sport and Galicia.

olga castro

After gaining my first degree in Journalism at the University of Santiago de Compostela, Spain, I moved to Vigo and completed my degree in Translation and Interpreting. I gained my Ph.D. in Translation Studies also at the University of Vigo in 2010. I worked at the University of Exeter for a year, before taking up my current post as Lecturer in Translation Studies and Spanish at Aston in 2011. The principal direction of my research concerns the political role of translation in the construction of gender and cultural/national identities in the field of Hispanic Studies, with a focus on the Galician context. Other areas of research are Feminist Translation Studies, Translation and Minority/Minorized Cultures, Self-translation in the Iberian Peninsula, Gender and Media Studies in Spain, Feminist Linguistics and Galician Studies. I am Vice-president of the International Association for Galician Studies.

  1. What is the best thing about your job?

The fact that it brings me the possibility to communicate at different levels: with my students through my teaching, with my colleagues through my daily activities, and with the wider academic context through my research. I suppose my training as a journalist plays a key role in this!

  1. Why did you decide to join Interland?

The study of language and diversity has always interested me, even when I worked as a journalist and as a freelance translator. Now that I am a full time academic doing research in Translation Studies and Gender Studies, for me it was quite obvious that my research interests fit very well within Interland. On top of this, Interland also brings me into contact with other people working on similar issues from different perspectives – creating paths of communication with these colleagues is very enriching.

  1. What are you working on at the moment?

I am co-editing two collections (one on Feminist Translation Studies for Routledge, and the other one on Self-Translation and Power in Multilingual Europe for Palgrave) and will soon start working on two journal articles. I am also working on two papers which I will be presenting in Santa Barbara in January 2015, and in Chicago in April 2015. As vice-president of the International Association for Galician Studies, I am also part of the organizing committee of the 11th Triannual Conference of the Association, which will be taking place in April 2015 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Finally, I have also started drafting a small research grant I would like to apply for in the next few months. Well, I suppose I am really looking forward to starting my sabbatical in February to be able to focus on all this!

  1. What achievements are you most proud of?

All achievements are the result of a process, and therefore there are good and not so good aspects associated with them. For many years my dream has been working at University, so I suppose I am proud of having completed my PhD in Spain in July 2010 and having got my first academic job in the UK just one month later. So I am proud of having followed my dream, even though it meant moving abroad as this inevitably had some important costs in my personal life.

  1. How do you like to spend your leisure time?

I love playing sports. I used to play basketball in an amateur team, and I continue to shoot some hoops occasionally. I also love running, and l was very happy with my 1h59’ in my first half-marathon in Birmingham last October! Coming from a seaside village in northern Galicia, I also love swimming, and Aston’s Victorian pool is a delight! When not doing sports, I am busy watching documentaries, painting watercolours on canvas or shooting for pleasure with my new DSLR camera.

  1. If you were stranded on a desert island, what three things would you most like to have with you and why?

First, an iPad/smartphone/laptop with internet connection to be able to follow Twitter and make politics there. Second, a pair of sport shoes to be able to do exercise regularly without getting blisters. And third, a year’s supply of Galician white wine (Albariño, ideally) and Real Ale (preferably from small breweries) to be able to survive… with no food 🙂

  1. What would you like to achieve in the next year?

Efficiency in managing my time to have a productive sabbatical. This would make me gain confidence to start working on my monograph proposal in 2016.