MPhil/PhD student Francielle Carpenedo, on her work at the Institute of Modern Languages Research and affiliation with its ‘Cross-Language Dynamics: Reshaping Community’ project.

In September 2017, I was awarded an MPhil/PhD studentship as part of the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s Open World Research Initiative (OWRI) ‘Cross-Language Dynamics: Reshaping Community’ project at the Institute of Modern Languages Research (IMLR). In line with the interests of the OWRI project, my research focuses on the Brazilian community in the UK, specifically on discourses from Brazilian food spaces and consumers on social media.

My aim is to better understand the presence of the Brazilian community in the UK by examining the intersection of language with identity practice in social media and food spaces. While the project focuses on promotional texts such as consumer reviews and social media posts, it seeks to understand the emotions and experiences generated by these spaces and how this is facilitated within the online sphere.

As an evolving means of communication, the web prompts people to interact in ways that go beyond the written text. Within computer-mediated communication, communication becomes multimodal through pictures, images, stickers, videos, and songs. As we find ways to express ourselves within the online context, we not only employ features of both written and spoken language, but create structures pertaining specifically to digital environments. Communication, thus identity work, is done through adapting what we type, the characters we type, and through our choice of, and mixing of, languages. Given its potential to spell out emotions and identities, food has a significant place in matters of belonging, opportunity, and negotiation of difference.

Having been awarded a BA in Modern Languages from the Open University, followed by an MA in Translation from the University of Bristol, a personal interest in how language glues the ongoing human performance in a globalised world has always dominated my interests. In this light, the opportunity at the IMLR is empowering through its support for interdisciplinary research combining matters running through promotional discourse, social media, and diaspora.

It has been empowering to have support to carry out research within the humanities from a digital perspective. This goes from learning how to incorporate digital tools into language research to a deeper understanding of how the digital and language research can complement each other. This means that I can engage in research that explores the connection between language, experiences, food, and the digital context.

One of the most motivating aspects is that it allows me not only to further understand the Brazilian community but also its interaction with the host society and vice versa, so the view ahead is twofold. In this sense, being able to conduct research focused on everyday digital experiences permits me to delve into new ways of understanding the world and opens new avenues for modern languages research.

researchFrancielle Carpenedo is a MPhil/PhD student in the School of Advanced Study’s Institute of Modern Languages Research; affiliated with the Arts and Humanities Research Council-funded Open World Research Initiative ‘Cross-Language Dynamics: Reshaping Community’ project. Launched in 2016, it is part of a four-year language research project that aims to demonstrate the UK’s critical need for modern languages research and teaching. The project will collaborate with schools and universities to develop curriculum innovations and strengthen university commitments to local community heritage.

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