Newcastle Critical Discourse Group

Current Programme

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


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.