Sunday, December 11, 2016


In the first Humanities Research Seminar of 2016 Professor Angela Smith's topic is banter. It has long been recognized that jocular argument and teasing are central to social bonding.  In Western society, this is most often seen as being a feature of masculine behaviour.  Various studies (eg Gough 2001, Benwell 2006, Smith 2016); have shown that this is a central concern of male bonding, with Mike Souter (the first editor of FHM magazine) commenting that in a social group, the wittiest guy is the most popular.  However, when this is transferred to the domain of broadcast media, it has the capacity to be misinterpreted and have the opposite effect of binding social groups.  The majority of complaints sent to the BBC relate to the ‘offensive’ remarks on programmes such as Top Gear, whilst on Channel 4 the same is the case on programmes in the ‘comedy quiz panel show’ genre.  Most often this is defended as being a ‘misunderstanding’ of an in-show joke (the usual defence of Top Gear in the Clarkson years), but at other times it has led to the removal of the main culprit, such as regular panelist Frankie Boyle on Mock the Week, or cancellation of the show, such as Radio 4’s David Baddiel show Don't Make Me Laugh.  So how is it that a strategy for social bonding can be open to such debate?  Professor Angela Smith's talk will explore how the linguistic features of banter are inherently marked by insincerity, relying on the in-group knowledge of regular viewers, the cooperation of the studio audience, and the contrivances of the on-stage performers.

Time: Wednesday 14th December 2016 at 4pm.
Location: Priestman 101

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

New edition of the Journal of Intercultural Inquiry

The new edition of the Journal of Intercultural Inquiry edited by Drs Geoff Nash and Michael Pearce is out now. Its diverse articles (by authors based in India, Romania, Germany and Saudi Arabia) cover Don DeLillo and Martin Amis on 9/11, gender and translation, English in India, and the German poet Holger Benkel. Enjoy it here.

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

BAVS review

Culture PhD student Philippa Abbott has published a review in the newsletter of the British Association for Victorian Studies (BAVS). She looks at Victorian Popular Culture (a website from Adam Matthew's Digital) and describes it as 'an invaluable resource to any researcher or teacher with an interest in popular entertainment in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries'; one which brings together resources which would otherwise be difficult to access.


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