Current Students

Rachel Hanna

My PhD analyses readers’ and listeners’ responses to asylum-seekers’ life narratives. In particular, I consider the interweaving impact of text-immanent features and socio-cultural contexts upon readers’/listeners’ responses. I have done so by discussing two real-life stories collected from asylum seekers living in Belfast with four reading groups who meet regularly to discuss fiction in local libraries. One year later, two of the reading groups took part in a further listening experiment and discussion, in which they heard and responded to extracts from the original recorded interviews with the asylum seekers. Analysing respondents uses of linguistic features such as negation, epistemic modality, and impersonal you, my research considers how the linguistic medium helped or hindered respondents from identifying with the asylum seekers. Some participants projected themselves into the scenarios described by the asylum seekers in order to establish common ground, but others chose more resistant readings which reinforced their differences. Still, other respondents adopted an “expert” position, giving greater weight to their contributions. Additional factors, such as perceived oral proficiency, also influenced the attitudes which participants expressed. My research develops theoretical models in linguistics and provides broader applications for policy makers and practitioners.

Supervisory Team: Prof. Janice Carruthers, Modern Languages (QUB), Michael Pierse, Arts, English and Languages, (QUB) and Prof. Karen Corrigan, Language and Linguistics (Newcastle).

Start Date: October 2014