• Kat Gupta’s research blog

    caution: may contain corpus linguistics, feminism, activism, LGB, queer and trans stuff, parrots, London

apologies for the lack of posting….

Oh dear, haven’t posted for a while. In the past ten days I’ve moved house, one of my pet rats had a lumpectomy and spay, I attended the NUS LGBT annual conference (where our LGBT Network won LGBT Society of the Year!) and I’ve been trying to compile my annual report. Tomorrow I’m going to a session on whether my thesis is publishable (hah), and on Wednesday I’ll be presenting at the annual Postgraduate Symposium in my department. Today I was “helped” with writing my annual report by Itchy, one of my housemate’s cats. His help seems to consist of purring and kneading my leg with his claws, but I’m not refusing any help I can get. At the moment, I would very much like it to be this time next week. Continue reading

Relevance

One of the questions that came up at the conference was the links between the women’s suffrage movement and protest movements today. There are a couple of points that I think are particularly interesting, although there are bound to be others. Diversity of the movement In any large protest movement there are going to be different factions, each with different ideologies, aims, motivations and so on. I’ve seen it first hand in the current anti-cuts movement, particularly within the student movement and even within the group in my university. This isn’t a bad comparison because I think both movements are issues-based and attract people of a huge range of political beliefs. There are things that unite us but these tend to be quite broad things – general opposition to education and welfare cuts, for example. The things that can be divisive are in the details – what action do we carry out? do we support occupation? is it okay to ally ourselves with trade union groups? communist groups? anarchist collectives? how do we organise ourselves? how do we make decisions? how do we respond to other groups and their campaigns? to whom do we express solidarity? These things are not… Continue reading

Exciting conference adventure

Okay, so I wasn’t expecting a tornado. I’m currently in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, in the US for Exploring the Boundaries and Applications of Corpus Linguistics. The sun is shining, the sky is blue, and the large quad outside the building is full of people clad in red being very excited about an American football game. Yesterday, however, the sky was black, the light was green and it was pouring with rain. Most of my fellow conference attendees were in the hotel lobby watching the news updates on the storm system when the tornado sirens sounded. I ended up sitting in the laundry room with some distinguished linguists, in the dark because the power had gone, and checking twitter updates because, mysteriously, the wireless internet was still functioning. There don’t seem to have been any serious injuries and the place seem relatively unscathed, but I think this has to be one of the more unexpected things to have happened to me at a conference! Anyone got any strange, unusual or bizarre conference stories? Continue reading

Five (plus two) questions from Sophie

Sophie Duncan at Clamorous Voice thought it would be interesting to bring the five question meme to our academic or otherwise real-life blogs. She describes it as a “creative nonfiction thing…little snapshots of what’s going on with people” and well, how could I refuse an offer like that? So here goes, and if you would like five questions from me, comment and ask! What would you like to ask Christabel Pankhurst? I always get a bit nervous about “what would you ask [famous person]?” questions because I’m worried that I’ll be like I am in real life and gaze worriedly at them, realise I have no intelligent question or, indeed, response and blurt out something about paneer. So this takes place in an alternate universe where I a) can time-travel and b) am not totally useless at talking to people and c) am cool. At first I’d probably try to start off with vaguely academic questions, like her thoughts on direct action and how she’d gauge its success, what her intentions were in founding the WSPU and how these changed over time, her thoughts on the role of male suffragists, how she felt about the portrayal of the suffragist movement… Continue reading

Press understanding of the black bloc

On Saturday, over 500,000 people took part in the March for the Alternative. The Guardian live-blogged it (first part, second part) and for the majority, it was a peaceful and diverse march. At some point, some protesters seem to have headed to Oxford Street to engage in some direct action, namely occupying Fortnum & Masons (and were duly kettled upon leaving, having been told they’d be free to leave the area), and in a late evening a large group gathered at Trafalgar Square, apparently to rest, catch up, swap news and so on. At this point something happened, and the police responded by kettling them. People’s experiences could be very different depending on where they were and when – one person was baton charged by the police, Laurie Penny was caught in the Trafalgar Square kettle, this young blogger found himself protecting a girl whose arm was broken by the police in the Trafalgar Square kettle and Katie writes about the march and Trafalgar Square and the aftermath as a St John’s Ambulance first aider. The reaction from the conservative press was predictable but again, people were anxious to distance themselves from those not participating in the march and engaging… Continue reading

Arguments

A couple of weeks ago I found a link to 7 Stupid Thinking Errors You Probably Make and it reminded me of being introduced to fallacies in AS Critical Thinking. There’s a rigorous, elegant beauty to lists of fallacious arguments – that all these fallacies have been recognised and identified and named and summarised. A taxonomy of bad arguments. They’re very useful for PhD researchers. As people who engage with other people’s arguments, it’s extremely useful to be able to identify fallacious thinking – whether it’s someone else’s or your own. Writing a thesis is hard enough without falling into the trap of straw men or post hoc ergo propter hoc. Continue reading

Suffrage imagery

Sometimes I like going into the library and just browsing, skipping the catalogues and directed searches, and just poking about until I find something interesting. Sometimes you find things you didn’t know existed – Rethinking Language and Gender Research: Theory and Practice opened my undergraduate eyes. At other times you find seemingly random things. A couple of months ago I was flicking through a book on “fashioning the body politic” and to my interest, found an article on fashion and the suffragette movement. I photocopied it, thinking it would be an interesting diversion but not really relevant to my thesis, but it’s turning out to be surprisingly useful. I’m currently analysing a report of a WSPU procession and having an understanding of suffragette visual signifiers is proving essential. The procession was in honour of Emily Wilding Davison and accompanied her coffin through London to the station, where it was taken to Morpeth and buried. The procession itself is more like a state funeral – colour coordinated dress, music, groups of women marching in formation, banners, a cross-bearer, and young girls dressed in white and carrying laurel wreaths. It’s astonishing in terms of scale and organisation – there’s a sense that… Continue reading

In India

I probably should have posted this before I left, but I’m in India visiting family. My thesis has come along too and I can now say that I’ve written a bit of my thesis practically in a nature reserve. Where, incidentally, I saw rhinos, deer, wild boar, elephants and a tiger! The tiger was stunning – all power and sleekness and muscles shifting under the brightest red-gold fur I’ve ever seen. My thoughts on eco-tourism are complicated – at what point does it become too indulgent, is it okay to invade habitats with tourism, does it support the kind of human enroachment that threatens these habitats? but on the other hand, tourism helps people see the reserves and wildlife within them as valuable (which has all sorts of effects, including helping locals feel protective towards their nearby reserve and so defend wildlife against poachers), gets the government to protect the reserve because it brings in tourists and their money, and brings in money to fund the reserve, pay rangers and so on. The people running the hotel we stayed with did outreach in local schools during the rainy season when the park is closed and clearly cared about the reserve… Continue reading

World Book Day

Books are awesome, so here are some questions about books and my answers. The book I am reading: These questions were written by someone who reads one book at a time, finishing each one before starting the next. I am not that person. I rarely have one book on the go, and am possibly infuriatingly promiscuous. The Junior Officers’ Reading Club – Patrick Hennessey Rise Up, Women! The Militant Campaign of the Women’s Social and Political Union, 1903-1914 – Andrew Rosen Methods for Critical Discourse Analysis – edited by Ruth Wodak and Michael Meyer Introducing Forensic Linguistics – Janet Cotterill and Malcolm Coulthard I recently finished Rivers of London by Ben Aaronvitch and have been dipping into GenderQueer: Voices from Beyond the Sexual Binary edited by Joan Nestle, Riki Wilchins and Clare Howell. The book(s) I am writing: My thesis, ahahahaha. Hahaha. Ha. The book I love most: But you can’t have one you love most! The others will be upset. The last book I received as a gift: Not quite a gift but they’ll probably end up residing with me, but my mother has just lent me Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro and Pillars of the Earth… Continue reading