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CFP: The Social Semiotics of Popular Journalism (9/15/2011; 3/28/2012)

Exploring the language of the popular in Anglo-American Newspapers 1833-1988
University of Cardiff 28 March 2012

As part of the series of research seminars which will contribute to the Research Network we are inviting interested scholars to submit proposals of 300 words for a seminar to be held at the University of Cardiff on 28 March 2012 entitled ‘The social semiotics of popular journalism: a long view’. It aims to bring together scholars from media and journalism studies, social sciences, linguistics and English to consider the important of semiotics as a tool for exploring the content and context of Anglo-American newspapers between 1833 and 1988. There is no charge for the event and there will be a number of keynote speakers to be announced at a later date.

The dates 1833-1988 frame the research network project as they are key dates in the development of popular discourse within Anglo-American newspapers. 1833 sees the first development of the Penny Press and 1988 witnesses the peak in circulation of Murdoch’s British-based Sun. This long view will reinforce how important historical context is to the understanding of contemporary newspapers. Although this project will certainly seek to address some of the wider implications of the discourse of newspaper language it will proceed from a thorough textual exploration in the first instance. Proposals are invited which explore the ways in which popular newspapers during this period in either the USA or Britain have attempted to structure the language of their product to match particular aspects of the social experience of their readers: how these newspapers have functioned as social semiotic. This might include the structuring (within the confines of commercial appeal) of themes such as, for example, social class, national identity, political partisanship, gender, domestic duty, recreational identities, conflicts between group identifications such as trade union membership and individualist consumerist aspirations. Explorations of the sociopolitical significance of representations of the everyday will also be particularly welcome. The proposals should be empirically-grounded and might draw upon textual analysis, discourse analysis, the political economy of newspapers, ethnography or combinations of these and/or other methods, to say something concrete about the nature of life in the societies represented by popular newspapers during this period.

We plan to publish the best of the papers presented on the day in a special edition of the international, peer-reviewed journal Social Semiotics.

Please send your proposals or any questions you may have by the 15 September 2011 to the Research Assistant for the project Clare Burke:

Seminar organizers:
Professor Martin Conboy, University of Sheffield and Dr David Machin, University of Cardiff

For further details of the project please visit the website of the Centre for the Study of Journalism and History:

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