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Sociology Research

Examining language usage in the investigation of emotional narratives and memory study

  • School: School of Arts and Humanities
  • Study mode(s): Full-time / Part-time
  • Starting: 2022 / 2023
  • Funding: UK student / EU student (non-UK) / International student (non-EU) / Fully-funded


Narrating emotions helps us to express, understand and share our experiences. It can also influence the ways others react to our memories and can impact how we cope with emotions ourselves. Litz and Abu-Lughod (2009) argue that in addition to these narratives, other oral traditions such as poetry and song can also form emotional discourses that are tied to everyday interaction.

Furthermore, memories about events, times and places can be remembered (perhaps selectively) to bring about group identity and solidarity (see for example Loong 2012). The actual act of remembering is a social construction (Gill 2012), as what is remembered and how it is remembered is a product of group life. Within a particular culture, individuals adopt a set of beliefs (or myths) based on a shared past (see McDowell 2004) which form a basis of collective and individual identity and this is used by individuals to augment group identity who can use this to fit their own lives into narratives that engage collective memories.

However, the use of language is not frequently investigated in such narratives and memories even though language is the primary vehicle through which speakers express and communicate their beliefs and perceptions. How do speakers express emotion and use language to portray their feelings and relay their memories?

Building on pre-existing literature, this PhD project aims to examine in detail the way that people talk about their memories and investigate the way in which emotions can influence such narratives to question how language is used to describe feelings and memories. Candidates are encouraged to focus on a set of narratives or memories in their field of interest and propose a theme to focus on within these parameters and they will work with the inter-disciplinary supervision team to create a framework suitable for such analysis.

The NTU Re:search Re:imagined strategy states that “research is about more than writing papers and proposing new ideas. It’s about breaking down barriers and tackling society’s problems in the wild, not just in a laboratory”. This ethos has been central to thinking in our department and the successful applicant will be supported in an active research environment, including the Linguistics subject and postgraduate team, NTU’s Global Heritage and Cultural Heritage themes, the Oral History Network and the Centre for Public History, Heritage and Memory, as well as the COST Action CA20105 on Slow Memory of which both supervisors are involved with (and Jenny Wüstenberg is Chair).

Applications to the position should outline a particular thematic and geographic focus for the project (comparative research designs are especially welcome). An interdisciplinary background, language skills and programming ability will be especially beneficial for this position. Creative and interdisciplinary thinking will be key.

Supervisory team

Jenny Wüstenberg
Natalie Braber

Entry qualifications

For the eligibility criteria, please visit our how to apply page.

How to apply

We are looking for motivated, engaged individuals to join our doctoral community. If you are interested in applying for one of the proposed Studentship projects, visit the "how to apply" page button to access our application portal: please note, you will need to use the ‘NTU Doctoral Application 21/22’ form.

As you are applying for a project, your application should clearly outline which of the projects advertised you wish to apply in Summary of Proposed Research Topic. In Research Proposal and Personal Statement, please give up to 1,500 word statement of why you are interested in the project you are applying for and how you would engage with the research proposed. Think about the outline and research aims for the project and how you would approach them, as well as showing your understanding of the field and how the project will contribute to or challenge existing research. Your statement should focus on the framework of the project, to give the panel a clear idea of your understanding of the research project/topic. You will also need to include a bibliography or reference list for any work you cite.

Your skills, experience, motivation for pursuing doctoral study, and interest in the field should be included as part of your 500 word Previous Experience and Personal Statement.

Please note that only applications to the advertised projects will be accepted as part of this funding call; do not use your application to propose your own research project.

The application deadline is Friday 18 February 2022.

Fees and funding

This project is fully-funded by the Cultural Heritage Research Peak Studentship Scheme.

Guidance and support

Please see our application guide for prospective candidates. You can also find a step-by-step guide and make an application on our how to apply page.

Still need help?

+44 (0)115 941 8418