Digital Future: the New Underclass

Our colleague at BA English at Middlesex Dr Josie Barnard presented a BBC Radio 4 programme on 3rd Sept at 11am. It investigates the deep social divides created by the digital world.

Hear it here.

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Whether booking a flight to go on holiday or ordering a takeaway, digital technology is so embedded in everyday life that it’s easy to assume everyone is on a level playing field. Or that those who aren’t are part of an older generation who didn’t grow up with computers. But that’s a dangerous assumption.

22% of the British population lack the digital skills they need to get by day-to-day. That’s more than one in five people who struggle with signing their child up to school, filling in a tax return, or even using a smartphone to make a call. And as more and more essential services move online, falling behind the pace of change carries severe consequences.

For young people, the risks of being left behind are buried under the assumption that they are digital natives – that they have supposedly grown up with an innate ability to use digital technology. But as the number of smartphone-only households grows, millions of children are in danger of their digital world shrinking around a tiny touchscreen.

Dr Barnard asks if this is simply a question of affordability and motivation, or whether more complicated factors are at play. She speaks to people struggling to find space at public computer banks to complete their Universal Credit forms, and a group who are jumping hurdles to get online because of their severe dyslexia, and gets behind the screens of smartphone-only teenagers to find out how the kind of device and the way we use it can be just as detrimental as not having it at all.

Presenter: Dr Josie Barnard

Producer: Emma Barnaby

Executive Producer: Deborah Dudgeon

A Whistledown production for BBC Radio

Celebrating the determination and successes of our 2019 graduates

Students with caring responsibilities, young families and recent learners of English among First Class Honours awards

Middlesex University held its summer graduation ceremonies from 8-12 July, with 9265 students awarded degrees at 14 ceremonies.

The very first cohort of students graduated from MDX’s innovative BA English course. The programme is distinctive for offering all three disciplines of English Language, English Literature and Creative Writing, and some modules where students study all three together. While the classics are covered there’s an emphasis on highly contemporary material: the second year Literature course, for example, focuses on works published in just the last 18 months, so students can’t rely on secondary literature.

Our very first cohort of BA English students

There are opportunities to get involved in co-curricular and extra-curricular activities, which have included biweekly language community and research seminars and a project mentoring sixth form students producing a magazine.

Azize Peraj

Azize Peraj, the first member of her family to graduate from university, enjoyed the opportunity to apply linguistic theory and critical discourse analysis to her chosen subjects of veganism and Instagram in the Language part of her course, the one-to-one tutorials that the programme offers, and the skills development and work opportunities available through the MDXWorks Employment Hub. The diversity of her coursemates, from many different backgrounds and from London and beyond also appealed to her.

BA English students working with Haringey Sixth Form College creative writers

Her tutors were highly attentive to students’ needs, “how they develop as people as well as academically” Azize says. Senior Lecturer Dr Anna Charalambidou in particular was “fantastic in terms of lining up students with different networking experiences”.

Azize landed an internship that gave her the opportunity to meet and work alongside high profile politicians. She loves public speaking and having done some presenting while a student, she hopes to pursue a career in this field.

Two trailblazing BA English students recognised for their contribution to student life at the 2019 MDXSU Awards

MDXSU Awards celebrate the trailblazing students at Middlesex University and this year BA English students won the double! The entire English subject area couldn’t be prouder.

The annual MDXSU awards – in their fifth year – are Middlesex Students’ Union’s way of celebrating the work and achievements of Middlesex University students over the past year, and recognising the contribution they have made to the university, the community and the lives of their fellow students.

 

Student Voice Leader of the Year

The shortlist…

  • Fazila Shaikh
  • Florentina-Daniela Bonghene
  • Kristian Karvay
  • Melissa Nabre

The winner…

Melissa Nabre (BA English)

“Melissa has been really engaged with the role is year – chairing the Programme Voice Group, which meant students are really at the heart of decisions made about the programme. Melissa ensured lots of changes are made at a programme level but also have been involved in other activities throughout MDXSU. She has successfully passed policy through the Student Leaders’ Conference which means self-defence classes will be available for all genders, supported some of the full-time officer campaigns and even had time be on the POW! Committee.”

 

Super POW!er of the Year

The shortlist…

  • Ahmad Jolghazi
  • Gytis Kezys
  • Katya Turikova 
  • Natalie Rose

The winner…

Natalie Rose (BA English)

“Natalie Rose has shown incredible passion, motivation and commitment this year, volunteering her time over several Freshers’ events and being active in committee meetings throughout the year. Natalie has shown great vision for her area of POW!, and her enthusiasm in turning this idea into reality. The panel felt that the POW! News platform would be nowhere without Natalie’s efforts.”

Huge congratulations to those shortlisted or won an award this year!🏆

 

Read the full results at .

What our recent graduates have been doing

We wanted to  the content on the BA English course pages, to include specific case studies of students who went on to find jobs or built careers after graduating. I sent an email round to our amazing recent-ish graduates, and these are some of the really inspiring responses I received. From teaching to financial services and speech therapy – our graduates thrive in the widest range of careers.
Tasnim Ahmed – English Teacher

tasnim Ahmed _ english‘I graduated in 2016 and started training to become a  teacher shortly after that. I am currently completing my NQT year as a Teacher of English at Chiltern Academy in Luton. Chiltern Academy is a brand new secondary school in Luton which opened in September 2018. It has been an incredible experience right from the beginning, especially being part of the journey to making our first year at Chiltern a success. I have recently been promoted to the role of Subject Coordinator and look forward to further facilitating and encouraging the learning of English as well as developing our curriculum to ensure all our pupils achieve the best possible outcome. I strongly feel that my degree has enabled me to secure (what I believe) is the best job in the world! Nothing beats the feeling of knowing you are making an impact and inspiring the next generation.’

Check  Chiltern Academy’s Twitter @ChilternA to have a look at what Tasnim’s pupils have been doing in English this year!

 

Amanda Emery – Speech and Language Therapist

‘When I graduate from English at Middlesex, I was lucky enough to get a brilliant job as a Speech and Language Therapy Assistant for the NHS with children with complex needs and children who are deaf. I worked there for one year to gain experience for my Masters application, as the course is extremely competitive and I was fortunate enough to be accepted onto the last NHS funded programme and to become a qualified Speech and Language Therapist.

During my final year on the BA English course I remember not being sure of what I wanted to do and  a tutor mentioned past students career paths had included working as a Speech and Language Therapist  (Which I am very thankful for- as I had never even heard of the profession previously!)

There is a big drive for more diversity in the profession and also to increase awareness of the role to the general public – I would fully recommend becoming a speech and language therapist.’

Name withheld – Banking 

‘During the final year of my degree, I found myself curious about the world of finance but in particular the world of Banking. However considering I was studying a degree in English, I assumed this would be highly unlikely.

Since graduating I worked at Mizuho Bank as a Credit Risk Analyst, then moving on to work at Credit Suisse as a Trade Support Analyst within the Fixed Income Bonds market.’

 

Hiba Hussein – English teacher

‘I went on to do a PGCE and I have now almost finished my second year as a teacher at Haverstock School in Camden (where the Milibands once attended). It is an inner London comprehensive school with a very diverse body of students and staff. I am really enjoying teaching and inspiring young people. I am currently gathering the experience and skills to move on to a more pastoral leadership role in the future i.e. head of year.’

Kvetoslava Drabikova – Accountancy 

KvetoslavaFinally, Kvetoslava Drabikova, who is already on our course page, currently works for Omnicom Media Group, which has recently been recognized as one of the top media agencies in the world by WARC. She is applying the strong communication and project management skills she developed at her English degree at Middlesex in her career in accountancy in London.

 

North London Story Festival 2019 – Booking Open

You are invited to this year’s North London Story Festival, featuring an exciting programme of talks, debates and a special screening of  Generation Revolution followed by a Q&A, pizza, drinks and panel discussion.

cropped-logo-nlsfEvery year the Media Department hosts this all-day event celebrating all forms of storytelling, whether for screen, stage or page.

Where and when? Thursday 21st February 2019, 11am onwards with main events taking place in C219, College Building.

This year’s theme is My Generation, dedicated to stories and narratives about what it means to be young and living in the UK today.

Book tickets, and find out more at: http://northlondonstoryfestival.co.uk

Our fantastic line-up of speakers include:

  • Vas Blackwood, of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels fame, whose 30 year career spans film and TV, and work with The Black Theatre Co-Op, the National Theatre, Young Vic and RSC. Tickets here.
  • Benjamin ‘Ben’ Zand, a British-Iranian journalist and filmmaker for the BBC and Royal Television Society Journalism Awards winner. Recent documentaries include ‘R:Kelly: Sex, Lies, and Videotape’ and ‘Searching for Kanye’. Tickets here.
  • Alex di Cuffa (Black Cat Theatre, Raindance) will give a first-hand account of surviving in film, TV and theatre. Tickets here.

Come hear about ‘Decolonising the University’ by Dalia Gebriel and ‘Making Media’ for industry  professionals by Mark Deuze.

Don’t miss the Google News Lab workshop, run by journalist Abigail Edge (BBC, The Guardian).

The day will end with a screening of Generation Revolution (2016), about London’s new generation of black and brown activists changing the capital and beyond. Check out the filmmaker’s Q&A, followed by pizza, drinks, and what promises to be a lively ‘My Generation’ debate featuring students from Media Foundation and BA English and staff from Media and Theatre Arts. Come and have your say!

Free: open to students, faculty and members of the public. You are welcome to bring friends and family.

 

An analysis of the image of women in cosmetic surgery leaflets: visual grammar as a tool to discover stereotypes

We are absolutely delighted to host Professor María Martínez Lirola (University of Alicante) for a seminar on her cutting-edge research on the use of image of women in cosmetic surgery leaflets.

When Tuesday, 19th March 2019, 16.00-18.00

Where? Room PRTCB6B (Portacabin), Middlesex University, London, NW4 4BT

There are many texts in which images of women are used for different purposes in our society. This research explores the main strategies used to create meaning in multimodal texts used by leaflets advertising cosmetic surgery in Alicante (Spain).  The study aims to point out that women are treated as objects in these leaflets. To demonstrate this argument the main visual and linguistic characteristics will be analysed in multimodal texts in which people are persuaded of the benefits of such surgery. Special attention will be paid to the influence that the different linguistic and visual choices may have on society. This study reveals that the image of women that appears in some leaflets of this type is so aggressive that it could be understood as a new form of gender violence.

Bionote

lirolaMaría Martínez Lirola is Professor of the Department of English at the University of Alicante, Spain and Research Fellow at the University of South Africa (UNISA). Her main areas of research are Applied Linguistics, Critical Discourse Analysis and Systemic Functional Linguistics. She has published more than 70 papers and seven books, such as Main Processes of Thematization and Postponement in English (Peter Lang, 2009). She has been a visiting scholar in different universities such as: Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo (UASD, 2015), University of Nottingham, Malaysia campus (2015), University of British Columbia and University of Montréal (2014), Carleton University (Ottawa, Canada, 2012), University of South Africa, UNISA (Pretoria, South Africa, 2012), University of Anahuac Mayad (Mérida, Mexico, 2008), University of Kwazulu-Natal (Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, 2006), and Macquarie University (Sydney, Australia, 2005). She has presented papers in international congresses all over the world.

 

This is the full list of all the diverse seminars Professor Lirola will lead during her stay at Middlesex – all part of the Language & Communication Research Seminars series. Everyone is welcome!

The Language and Communication Research Seminars are free and open to all staff, students and guests. For any questions or if you would like to lead a session, contact Anna Charalambidou.

Click here to see all 2018-19 Language & Communication research seminars.

Teaching visit of Professor María Martínez Lirola

We are absolutely delighted to host Professor María Martínez Lirola (University of Alicante) for a teaching visit to BA English at Middlesex, between 18th and 22nd of March 2019.

This is a list of the three diverse seminars she will lead at Middlesex University, London- all part of the Language & Communication Research Seminars series. Everyone is welcome!

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AN ANALYSIS OF THE IMAGE OF WOMEN IN COSMETIC SURGERY LEAFLETS: VISUAL GRAMMAR AS A TOOL TO DISCOVER STEREOTYPES. 

Tuesday, 19th March 2019, 16.00-18.00 at room PRTCB6B (Portacabin)

There are many texts in which images of women are used for different purposes in our society. This research explores the main strategies used to create meaning in multimodal texts used by leaflets advertising cosmetic surgery in Alicante (Spain).  The study aims to point out that women are treated as objects in these leaflets. To demonstrate this argument the main visual and linguistic characteristics will be analysed in multimodal texts in which people are persuaded of the benefits of such surgery. Special attention will be paid to the influence that the different linguistic and visual choices may have on society. This study reveals that the image of women that appears in some leaflets of this type is so aggressive that it could be understood as a new form of gender violence.


 

APPROACHING THE REPRESENTATION OF SUB-SAHARAN IMMIGRANTS IN A SAMPLE FROM THE SPANISH PRESS: DECONSTRUCTING STEREOTYPES 

Wednesday, 20th March 2019, 14.30 -16.30, at room V105 (Vine building) 

Spain has become a country receiving immigrants in the last years. The majority of the items of news related to immigration that appear in the press exhibit negative characteristics. The main purpose of this article is to observe the linguistic and visual representation of Sub-Saharan immigrants in a sample of the Spanish press in order to answer the following research questions: how are Sub-Saharan immigrants portrayed linguistically and visually in the given press? What are the implications of the choices in language and images?

The researcher collected all the pieces of news related to Sub-Saharan immigrants in the three most popular Spanish newspapers, i.e., El País, ABC and El Mundo from 1 June 2011 to 31 December 2014. Visual grammar and critical discourse analysis (CDA) will be used in order to deconstruct the visual and linguistic representation of such immigrants. In addition, van Leeuwen’s (2008) classification of social actors will be used in the analysis.

The analysis demonstrates that the representation of Sub-Saharan immigrants displays the following characteristics: they are represented as vulnerable, lacking autonomy, as victims, etc. This representation does not contribute to the fact that the autochthonous population favours the integration of immigrants into the socio-economic structure, exercising the same rights as the Spanish population, and therefore that the dichotomy we-they is emphasized.


HOW CAN WE INTRODUCE CULTURE AND CRITICAL THINKING IN THE CLASSROOM? EXPLORING THE USE OF MULTIMODAL TEXTS IN THE CLASSROOM 

Thursday, 21st March 2019, 17.00-19.00, at room C110 (College building)

The multimodal nature of present societies makes clear that teaching with authentic multimodal texts can contribute to bring different cultural realities into the classroom. In this sense, it was decided to use texts published by Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in order to teach visual grammar (Kress and van Leeuwen, 2006) in a master course.

These texts were also selected because they are appropriate to teach cultural aspects, and the reality of poor countries; they also allow the acquisition of interpersonal competences. This paper will point out that teaching students to be critical with the discourse produced by NGOs is essential in order to unveil relationships of domination and power because discourse is always a powerful tool used to reproduce social reality.


Bionote

María Martínez Lirola is Professor of the Department of English at the University of Alicante, Spain and Research Fellow at the University of South Africa (UNISA). Her main areas of research are Applied Linguistics, Critical Discourse Analysis and Systemic Functional Linguistics. She has published more than 70 papers and seven books, such as Main Processes of Thematization and Postponement in English (Peter Lang, 2009). She has been a visiting scholar in different universities such as: Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo (UASD, 2015), University of Nottingham, Malaysia campus (2015), University of British Columbia and University of Montréal (2014), Carleton University (Ottawa, Canada, 2012), University of South Africa, UNISA (Pretoria, South Africa, 2012), University of Anahuac Mayad (Mérida, Mexico, 2008), University of Kwazulu-Natal (Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, 2006), and Macquarie University (Sydney, Australia, 2005). She has presented papers in international congresses all over the world.

 

The Language and Communication Research Seminars are free and open to all staff, students and guests. For any questions or if you would like to lead a session, contact Anna Charalambidou.

Click here to see all 2018-19 Language & Communication research seminars.