Talent Development Awards 2022-23

Funded by

Dr Martin Bruns


Heteroskedastic Proxy Vector Autoregressions

University of East Anglia


The last couple of decades have seen substantial structural changes in the transmission of economic shocks to economic aggregates. One example is the lower responsiveness of prices to factor productivity shocks since the beginning of the Great Moderation in the mid-80s. Another example is a series of structural changes in the global oil market since the mid-70s, leading to a transformation of the pass-through of oil prices to the real economy. The observation of frequent structural change calls into question the common assumption of time-invariant shock impacts in the workhorse model of modern macroeconomics, structural vector autoregressions. This project aims to fill this gap: firstly by providing applied researchers with guidance to detect such structural change; secondly by estimating empirical models where the time-invariance restriction is relaxed; and thirdly by showing the quantitative importance of relaxing the time-invariance assumption in three applications.

Dr Joseph Cronin


Analysing Nazi language using digital techniques

Queen Mary University of London


How do authoritarian regimes change the languages of the countries they govern? And for how long does this endure after their fall? This project uses quantitative text analysis to investigate National Socialist (Nazi) language. Through three interrelated case studies, it digitally examines written texts and spoken interviews produced before, during and after the Nazi regime and compares these to wider German textual output. By text-mining Adolf Hitler’s book Mein Kampf (1925) to ascertain its legacies and then analysing millions of German texts from 1800 to 2019, along with oral interviews from the ‘Final Account’ archive, this project will indicate the persistence of Nazi culture in postwar Germany and Austria. Alongside this, the project will provide training in text-mining techniques for up to 30 scholars researching political violence and genocide.

Dr Antonio Da Silva


Developing employability skills through language learning: a pilot project with adult learners in the Colchester area

University of Essex


In our globalised world, language skills are an important part of intercultural communication in many aspects of life, including personal relationships and employment. However, while the UK Department for Education’s Modern Languages curriculum emphasises the importance of learning a second language, many citizens have not had the opportunity to develop language learning skills at school beyond Key Stage 3 (aged 11-14). This pilot project focuses on employability skills that can be acquired through language learning, taking Italian and Portuguese as its basis. The aim is to work with the Job Centre in the city of Colchester and service sectors within the University of Essex to offer job seekers and employees who are monolingual or have little experience learning a second language the opportunity to acquire independent language learning skills and transferable employability skills using new technologies through intensive direct teaching and guided independent study.

Professor Joanna Drugan


Signs of Connection

Heriot-Watt University


How do deaf and hearing colleagues work together, and with the sign language interpreters who participate in their communication? What challenges arise, and what helps build connections? This project researches a university workplace where there is exceptional expertise in using signed and spoken languages to answer these questions. It develops important skills in British Sign Language (BSL), and in research methodology in Translation Studies and Modern Languages. Talent Development Award funding is sought for Prof. Drugan, a leading hearing researcher who is learning BSL, and a part-time research assistant who is fluent in BSL, to conduct focus groups and ‘work-shadow’ deaf and hearing academics over one year, in BSL and in English. BSL research data will be filmed, translated and transcribed into English, allowing us to compare effectiveness of research directly in sign language and when mediated by interpreters. Interpreters themselves will also act as research participants.

Dr Helen Kingstone


Quantitative Analysis Skills to bring together Literary and Demographic Datasets

Royal Holloway, University of London


This programme creates skills training and knowledge exchange in demographically-focused Digital Humanities research. It provides subsidised summer school training, by early career experts, in a range of digital quantitative analysis skills and research design for data-rich projects. The training will be followed by pilot analyses by a research assistant of a trial linked dataset, and knowledge exchange research discussion between literary scholars, historians, and historical demographers, including reflection on those pilot analyses. We ask: How can big datasets of language – particularly literary language – and those of population and demography be made to speak to one another in meaningful ways, to better understand the human past? Future research projects that want to explore the past by bringing together literary texts and social records will need to be equipped with quantitative skills from both disciplinary areas.

Dr Tom Livingstone


Game Engines – New Tools, New Practices, New Paradigms

University of the West of England, Bristol


The use of game engines has accelerated exponentially beyond the world of game development. Game engines - software packages containing a suite of ready-made solutions for the foundational programming problems inherent to digital game development – are now integral nodes within an array of visual media production pipelines, from blockbusters to indie animation to XR. Yet, game engines are insufficiently studied and little understood. The problem is three-fold: game engines’ visual signatures are opaque, their technical interfaces are knotty and their operational criteria are buried code-deep. I will de-mystify the black-box of game engines through an interconnected process of skills acquisition, primary research and piloting the use of novel pedagogical tools. Undertaking bootcamp style software training, my programme of research will critique the technological defaults inherent to game engines and experiment in engaging the software in a reflective analytical practice, piloting new ways of researching and teaching within the Humanities.

Dr John Regan


Climate Keywords: Towards a Digital Analysis of Environmental Concepts in the UN Corpus

Royal Holloway, University of London


The reports and proceedings of many national and supra-national institutions have only recently been digitised and made publicly available. But availability does not necessarily entail legibility; these remarkably rich resources are practically unreadable at the level of the individual. The current application is the first step on the road to correcting this. It aims to establish pragmatic computational paths for the effective investigation of the United Nations Parallel Text Corpus, a record of almost 800,000 documents comprised of reports and proceedings of the UN parliament. The proposed project seeks to bring experts and stakeholders together over two Knowledge Exchange workshops, in order to develop computational means of identifying patterns in lexical use across these corpora. Out particular focus will be on climate keywords: the language and conceptual use which has shaped our ways of knowing our ecological moment within and across cultures.

Dr Robert Topinka


Misinformation in Everyday Life: Portable Principles for Blending Qualitative and Quantitative Social Media Research

Birkbeck, University of London


Misinformation is widely seen as a fundamental flaw of social media, undermining public culture and posing an existential threat to democracy. Journalists, policymakers and academics have responded by emphasising fact-checking, better content moderation and Big Data analytics. Though valuable, these responses tend to overlook what attracts users to misinformation, and how everyday social media habits contribute to its circulation. The Lead and Co-Applicant of this project will map out new ways for studying misinformation in everyday life, blending quantitative and qualitative approaches to social media. They will enhance their applied skills in data analytics and visualisation by attending the Digital Methods Initiative 2023 Summer School at the University of Amsterdam. This will in turn spur the creation of mixed-method ‘recipes’ for social media research, shared via a wiki and critiqued, tested and revised across two researcher workshops. These recipes will then be disseminated online to the wider academic community.

Dr Karolina Watroba


Kafka in Korea: A Case Study for Diversifying Modern Languages

University of Oxford


While numbers of students of German at British universities fell by 30% in the last decade, Korean saw an increase of 300%. In response, University Council of Modern Languages called for a transformation of the discipline by diversifying the research and teaching landscape. My project addresses this call through a case study on the wide-ranging creative reception of the landmark German modernist writer Franz Kafka in contemporary Korean culture to investigate how literary brands such as the ‘Kafkaesque’ and the ‘Korean Wave’ interact. I would use this grant to further develop my Korean language skills through an intensive language course at a leading university in Seoul, significantly expand my network of research contacts in Korea, advance the emerging field of Asian German studies, and further the methodology of comparative Modern Languages through a series of research outputs and teaching activities, including a substantial journal article and an innovative lecture course.

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