The Language and Communication research cluster grows out of research by staff across a number of subject areas in the University. Its members carry out research into the philosophy and theory of communication, pragmatics, the definition of language as a human phenomenon, gender and age in language use, political communication in language, narrative, language in critical theory, semiotics and rhetoric.
In particular, the group shares an interest in the history and practice of 'close reading'. That is, the process of analysis and attention to all kinds of texts, a process that came to the fore in the last century with the work of Saussure in Switzerland; Propp and the Formalists in Russia; Ogden, Richards, Empson and Leavis in Britain; the New Criticism, Innis, McLuhan and Frye in North America; the structuralists in France; the Prague Linguistic Circle in Czechoslovakia; so-called 'Soviet semiotics'; the Copenhagen School in Denmark; systems theory and cybernetics in Europe and the Americas.
This current of thought and practice continues today with Discourse Analysis, Conversation Analysis, investigations into Multimodality, Systemic Functional Linguistics, Critical Discourse Analysis, Modelling Systems Theory and other approaches in the study of language and communication.
Cluster members currently research and publish on topics including prosody, Parliamentary discourse, religion and utopia, narrative, discourses about food and ageing and metaphysics of communication.
The cluster is also home to the journal Empedocles: European Journal for the Philosophy of Communication, co-home to the journal Social Semiotics and the book series Handbooks of Communication Science, and is closely involved in the Section for the Philosophy of Communication of the European Communication Research and Education Association (ECREA).
The Language and Communication research cluster hosts fortnightly research seminars during term time that explore work on language, discourse and communication. Literature, creative writing and even film are also considered, taking an inclusive view of the subject area. They include research presentations, workshops and reading groups.