Newcastle Critical Discourse Group

Current Programme

SEMESTER 2 2018/19

April 1st 

16:30-18:00 ARMB. 2.90

Populism and Memory

David Farrell-Banks (Newcastle University)

Magna Carta in online populist political discourse

This presentation will look at the manner with which history and heritage is used by (re)emergent right-wing populist (RWP) groups across Europe. This will build on work undertaken over the past two years as part of my PhD research. This work has looked at the use of two historic moments – the 1215 first sealing of Magna Carta and the 1683 breaking of the Siege of Vienna – in European political discourse and official heritage displays. For this paper I will primarily discuss the role of social media in the political mobilisation of these historic moments, focusing on references to Magna Carta on Twitter. The ambiguity of these historic moments is argued to be intimately linked to the affective nature of their use in political discourse. I introduce the concept of the ‘moving moment’ as a means of further understanding the use of history across political discourse.

Sophie Schmalenberger (Aarhus University)

Populism beyond the “Never again!”: The AfD as Memory Alternative for Germany

Germany is no longer a blank spot on the European map of populism: The success of the AfD as national populist party is a decisive caesura in a nation where post-Holocaust culture so far constituted a formidable normative hurdle for similar parties, made vulnerable by daunting comparisons with the country’s NS-past. However, existing populism scholarship does not offer a comprehensive framework for understanding the emergence and success of the AfD in context of post-Holocaust Germany´s ‘hostile’ historic and politico-cultural environment.

It is here where my PhD project aims to develop a novel theoretical approach based on the integration of populism research and memory studies, that is apt to analyse how the AfD successfully manoeuvres ‘on the edge’ between German post-Holocaust culture and ethnocentric positions as well as nationalist Euroscepticism. The central idea brought forward is that the AfD´s national populist positions are embedded within the frameworks of an ‘alternative German-ness’ that builds upon an alternative memory culture: Through public communicative and performative acts that strategically mobilize aspects of German past and memory, AfD actors (re-)construct how the past matters for the present self-conception of the German nation. In doing so, the AfD opposes the liberal democratic politico-cultural fabric of post-Holocaust Germany by offering an alternative idea of what it means and feels like to be German, This ‘alternative German-ness” is not radically new but connects to intellectual and emotive elements already existing or having existed previously within German society. My presentation will introduce this theoretical framework as work in progress and offer some first analytical examples as basis for further discussion and questions.

February 27th

16:00-18:00 ARMB. 3.39

Mark McGlashan (Birmingham City University)

Political in- and out-groups on Twitter: a corpus-based discourse analysis of the Football Lads Alliance

This paper investigates (collective) identity/identities and methods of investigating an online protest movement as a site for ambient affiliation, “where […] individuals do not necessarily have to interact directly, but may engage in mass practices such as hashtagging in order to participate in particular kinds of ‘belonging’” (Zappavigna 2017: 216). Specifically, this paper is interested in how followers of the Football Lads Alliance (FLA) Twitter account linguistically signal, construct and aggregate around various identities and how these identities relate to discourses of marginalisation and social inequity, and draws on methods from corpus linguistics and Critical Discourse Studies/Critical Discourse Analysis (CDS/CDA) to do so. The analysis will explore discourses in twitter followers’ tweets and biographies, and will consider how language, alongside the functionalities of Twitter, are used to signal identities and create forms of belonging as well as exclusion.

Dr Mark McGlashan is Lecturer in English Language in the School of English at Birmingham City University. He holds several postgraduate research degrees in language and linguistics from Lancaster University. His interests predominantly centre on Corpus-based (Critical) Discourse Studies and the application of corpus methods to the analysis of a wide range of social issues including nationalism, racism, sexism, and homophobia.

February 14th

16:00-18:00 ARMB. G.11

Michał Krzyżanowski (Örebro University, Sweden & University of Liverpool, UK)

Normalization of Exclusion and Discursive Shifts: Right-Wing Populism in/and the Discourse on the ‘Refugee Crisis’ in Europe

My presentation highlights strategies of normalization (Krzyżanowski 2020a, 2020b) seen as discursive processes of legitimizing views, ideologies and positions that, although traditionally treated as radical and politically/socially unacceptable, increasingly become accepted within the widespread norms of public expression. I draw, inter alia, on the concept of normalization as originally used in social-psychological studies (Vaughan 1996) as well as in critical social research on discursive channeling of extreme positions into elements of acceptable social status quo (Link 2013, Wodak 2015). Empirically, my presentation explores dynamics of political discourses on the recent ‘Refugee Crisis’ in Europe (Krzyżanowski 2018a & 2018b; Krzyżanowski, Triandafyllidou & Wodak 2018). It draws on my long-term work on the anti-immigration discourse of European right-wing populist parties (Krzyżanowski & Wodak 2009; Krzyżanowski 2012; Wodak & Krzyżanowski 2017) and online uncivil society (Krzyżanowski & Ledin 2017) as well as on discursive media responses to ideological projects of right-wing populism (Krzyżanowski 2019). The presentation provides a critical-analytical look at the case of Poland where the right-wing populist imaginaries of the ‘Refugee Crisis’ have acted as carriers of the unprecedented discourses of racism and hate since 2015. As I show, the strategic and opportunistic introduction of anti-immigration rhetoric in/by the political mainstream in Poland in recent years has contributed to the widespread dissemination and acceptance of discriminatory views. Through the presentation, I intend to show that normalization is part and parcel of a wider multistep process of strategically orchestrated discursive shifts (Krzyżanowski 2013, 2018a) wherein discourses characterised by extreme positions – such as e.g. racism, discrimination and hate – are being enacted, perpetuated and eventually normalised as part and parcel of pronounced right-wing populist strategies. In the said process, normalization also entails creation of a new form of borderline discourse (Krzyżanowski and Ledin 2017) where civil, rational and politically-correct language is increasingly used to pre-legitimise (Krzyżanowski 2014, 2016) uncivil, radical and extremist positions and ideologies as part of discursive strategies that aim to make them look as rational and acceptable elements of the effectively exclusionary and nativist ‘common sense’.


Krzyżanowski, M. (2012). Right-Wing Populism, Opportunism and Political Catholicism: On Recent Rhetorics and Political Communication of Polish PiS (Law and Justice) Party. In: A. Pelinka and B. Haller (Eds.) Populismus:Herausforderung oder Gefahr für die Demokratie? Vienna: New Academic Press, 111-126.

Krzyżanowski, M. (2013). Policy, Policy Communication and Discursive Shifts: Analyzing EU Policy Discourses on Climate Change. In: P. Cap & U. Okulska (eds) Analysing New Genres in Political Communication. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, pp. 101-135.

Krzyżanowski, M. (2014). Values, Imaginaries and Templates of Journalistic Practice: A Critical Discourse Analysis. Social Semiotics 24(3).

Krzyżanowski, M. (2016). Recontextualizations of Neoliberalism and the Increasingly Conceptual Nature of Discourse. Discourse & Society 27(3).

Krzyżanowski, M. (2018a). Discursive Shifts in Ethno-Nationalist Politics: On Politicisation and Mediatisation of the ‘Refugee Crisis’ in Poland. Journal of Immigrant & Refugee Studies 16 (1-2).

Krzyżanowski, M. (2018b). ‘We Are a Small Country that Has Done Enormously Lot’: The ‘Refugee Crisis’ & the Hybrid Discourse of Politicising Immigration in Sweden. Journal of Immigrant & Refugee Studies 16 (1-2).

Krzyżanowski, M. (2019). ‘Brexit’ and the Imaginary of ‘Crisis’: A Discourse-Conceptual Analysis of European News Media. Critical Discourse Studies 16(2).

Krzyżanowski, M. (2020a). The Normalisation of Interactive Racism: Right-Wing Populism, Discursive Shifts and the ‘Refugee Crisis’ in Poland. To appear in Social Semiotics.

Krzyżanowski, M. (ed.) (2020b). Strategies of ‘Normalisation’ in Public Discourse: Paradoxes of Populism, Neoliberalism and the Politics of Exclusion. (Special Issue of Social Semiotics). London: Routledge.

Krzyżanowski, M., A. Triandafyllidou & R. Wodak. (2018). The Politicisation and Mediatisation of the ‘Refugee Crisis’ in Europe. Journal of Immigrant & Refugee Studies 16 (1-2).

Krzyżanowski, M. & R. Wodak. (2009). The Politics of Exclusion: Debating Migration in Austria. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers.

Krzyżanowski, M. & P. Ledin. (2017). Uncivility on the Web: Populism in/and the Borderline Discourses of Exclusion. Journal of Language & Politics 16(4).

Link, J. (2013). Versuch über den Normalismus. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht.

Vaughan, D. (1996). The Challenger Launch Decision. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

Wodak, R. (2015). The Politics of Fear. London: Sage.

Wodak, R. & M. Krzyżanowski. (eds.). (2017). Right-Wing Populism in Europe & USA: Contesting Politics & Discourse beyond ‘Orbanism’ and ‘Trumpism’. (Special issue of Journal of Language & Politics 16:4). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.



Michał Krzyżanowski holds a Chair in Media and Communication Studies at Örebro University, Sweden as well as a research appointment as a Chair in Communication & Media at the University of Liverpool, UK. In 2018-19 he is also Albert Bonnier Jr. Guest Professor in Media Studies at the Department of Journalism, Media & Communication, Stockholm University, Sweden. Michał is one of the leading international experts in critical discourse studies of media and political communication. His key research interests are in dynamics of right-wing populist discourse, normalisation of racism and of politics of exclusion as well as in diachronic analyses of politicisation and mediation of crisis in European and transnational media. He is the Editor-in-Chief of the international Journal of Language and Politics and a co-editor of the Bloomsbury Advances in Critical Discourse Studies book series. More information: and


SEMESTER 1 2018/19

October 10th

16:00-18:00 ARMB. 3.39

Ruth Page, University of Birmingham

November 14th 

16:00-18:00 ARMB. 3.39

Dhiaa Janaby, Newcastle University, and Ender Taher, Newcastle University

December 5th

16:00-18:00 ARMB. 3.39

Dr Wasim Ahmed


Ruth Page, University of Birmingham 

Collective Identity, Multimodality and Snapchat Live Stories

This paper explores the multimodal construction of collective identity in Snapchat live stories.  Live stories are sequences of 10 second video clips recorded through a mobile phone, which are collated by Snap Chat’s team and made publically for 24 hours before being removed from view. The data reported here is a sample of 26 stories (a total of 877 snaps), taken from a larger set of 130 live stories, observed between June 2016 and June 2017, and covers stories about sports events, festivals, concerts and protests. In this paper, we propose a new framework for collective identity, derived from Zappavigna’s (2016) work on individual subjectivity in social photography, arguing that collective identity can be represented, inferred or implied.  This framework refines van Leeuwen’s (2008) distinction between individualisation and assimilation as options for social actors, especially as this sheds light on the emerging genres of the selfie and group selfie. Recognising the highly contextualised interpretation of collective identity, the methods we use address concerns about the subjective nature of multimodal critical discourse analysis (Machin and Mayr, 2012) by providing a stepwise process for annotating audio-visual data that incorporates inter coder reliability tests as a theory-building practice. The results of the analysis are used to explore the forms of citizen journalistic documentation found in Snapchat, and to show how collective identity can be construed positively or negatively, depending on the topic of the story.


Ruth Page is a Senior Lecturer in Applied Linguistics at the University of Birmingham

Dhiaa Janaby, Newcastle University

Discourses on Wars and Conflicts: The Discursive Construction of Iraq in the US Press

This paper examines the recent history of the discourses on wars and conflicts in Iraq and the macro discourses of the representation of Iraq through key historical events. The aim of the research is to examine both continuity and changes in this representation on the basis of the changes taking place on the international political scene in general and with regard to the involvement of the US in particular. This paper also discusses some of the challenges, shortcomings and concerns with regard to studies on Iraq as one of the key Middle Eastern countries, and issues of critique and under/mis/representation in discourse. An interdisciplinary framework that combined corpus linguistics with the Discourse Historical Approach (DHA) to CDA is employed in the research.

The results of the research shed light on how the treatment of the same events and social actors in the US press were different in the different wars: for instance, during the US-led invasion, the Iraqi people (Kurds, Shiites) appeared as worthy victims, a portrayal that fitted in with the propaganda that the war had a humanitarian motive. However, they were never represented in this way during the Iraq-Iran war. Similarly, although Saddam was portrayed negatively in the Iraq-Iran war, he was much more sharply vilified, and demonised during the US-led invasion in relation to crimes that had been committed during the Iraq-Iran war with which he was not connected.


Dhiaa Kareem Ali is a PhD student at the School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences. Prior to joining Newcastle University, he used to work as a teaching assistant at University of Kufa in Iraq. His research interests are centred on critical discourse studies, language and/in politics, nationalism, racism, prejudice, discrimination, argumentation analysis as well as populism. 

Ender Taher, Newcastle University

Female Visibility/Representation in Saudi Arabia: A Critical Multimodal/Discourse Analysis of the 2013 IKEA catalogue and Press Discourses on Saudi Arabia

This study examines gender representation in Saudi Arabia using combined approaches of Multimodal Social Semiotics and Critical Discourse Studies. The thesis conducts a critical analysis of both advertisement and media discourses. The former focuses on verbal and visual analysis of the 2013 IKEA catalogue, and the latter pertains to the verbal and visual discourse of ‘Western’ newspapers’ portrayal of Saudi Arabia in their coverage of this particular catalogue issue, i.e. removal of female images from the Saudi version. The aim of this study is to investigate both the discursive practices in the catalogue and in the press coverage so as to deconstruct the issue of female visibility in Saudi Arabia and how publication of the catalogue would provide a suitable discursive opportunity for stereotypical representation of Saudi Arabia as the ‘Other’.

Two overarching questions guide the analysis in the thesis: (1) how were females represented in the 2013 Arabic IKEA catalogue, which was distributed in Saudi Arabia? (2) How do the examined newspapers discursively represent the social actors when reporting the exclusion of females? In light of these questions, the thesis undertakes a twofold analysis. The first is a verbal linguistic analysis of both the catalogue in Arabic and the news reports covering the issue. The second part of the twofold analysis is a visual analysis of the UK and Saudi editions of the 2013 IKEA catalogue as well as the images accompanying the news reports, based on Kress and van Leeuwen’s Visual Grammar (1996, 2006).

The findings reveal a sharp contrast between the textual and visual representations of females in the catalogues. Females are linguistically visible within the Saudi edition but are visually excluded, which revealed IKEA’s linguistic and visual sexism. Conversely, linguistic and visual representations in the newspapers complement each other and reveal the ways in which news sources construct Saudi Arabia in the context of women’s rights, as certain negative themes associated with Saudi Arabia emerge, e.g. ‘backwardness’ and ‘the oppression of women’s rights’. The analysis further reveals that women’s rights is a common discourse in this context, with a tendency to be accompanied by discourses that perpetuate stereotypes of Saudi women being ‘oppressed’ and ‘invisible’. Such representations are inherently linked to a wider critique of Orientalism and negative Otherrepresentation of Islam in the mainstream ‘Western’ discourses on Saudi Arabia.


Ender Taher is a PhD candidate at the School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics at Newcastle University with research interests mainly in Multimodality and Critical Discourse Analysis.

Potential of Digital Methods for Conducting Qualitative Critical Textual Analysis

This talk will firstly provide an overview of a PhD topic that performed an in-depth textual analysis of Twitter data related to three major infectious disease outbreaks of swine flu, Ebola, and the Zika virus. Building on over four years of research the talk will then provide an overview of digital methods and tools for the analysis of social media data which can be utilised by social scientists. The talk will then outline how digital methods can support research into digital discourses including topics such as populism and nationalism, misogyny and hyper-masculinity, religion and identity, and islamophobia.

Dr Wasim Ahmed, Northumbria University

Potential of Digital Methods for Conducting Qualitative Critical Textual Analysis

This talk will firstly provide an overview of a PhD topic that performed an in-depth textual analysis of Twitter data related to three major infectious disease outbreaks of swine flu, Ebola, and the Zika virus. Building on over four years of research the talk will then provide an overview of digital methods and tools for the analysis of social media data which can be utilised by social scientists. The talk will then outline how digital methods can support research into digital discourses including topics such as populism and nationalism, misogyny and hyper-masculinity, religion and identity, and islamophobia.


Dr Wasim Ahmed is a Lecturer in Digital Business at Northumbria University Business School. His teaching interested are based on digital methods for extracting insight from social media platforms. His recent work, for instance, published in Online Information Review explored the potential of new digital methods and social media visualisation techniques for analysing breaking news stories for journalists. He has also published in interdisciplinary journals for instance analysing the hashtag #ShoutYourAbortion for the journal Public Health where he identified two clusters of Twitter users representing echo-chambers of pro-abortion and anti-abortion content. He gained his PhD from the University of Sheffield, which investigated Twitter data related to three major infectious disease outbreaks and performed an in-depth thematic analysis of tweets. He has delivered over 60 digital methods and social media talks in over 11 countries and has published widely read articles for the London School of Economics and Political Sciences Impact Blog related to social media analytics. Dr Ahmed also has a number of media appearances related to the impact and influence of social media in society.