Language & Popular Culture Lab: Seeing things from a Different Perspective

This article originally appeared in Kinguistics, a blog run by our undergraduate linguistics students and was written by Paola Amante, a student on our BA English Language & Linguistics Programme. The article was published on 8th February 2019. 

On the 14th of November 2018, both BA and MA students from King’s College had the chance to attend the first meeting of “Language and Popular Culture Lab”, ran by Professor Ben Rampton and Dr Lavanya Sankaran.

As the first Lab meeting of the year, Ben and Lavanya gave the students general information, presenting how students in the previous years used the notions learned during the meetings of the Language and Popular Culture Lab, such as to create innovative dissertation topics. Some of the examples mentioned were: “Fantasy languages, and their use by fantasy writers in constructing fictional group identities”, “Popular culture and geosemiotics Apps for second language learning”, “Language of advertising, hip-hop, social media, online news, texting” and so on.

During the second part of the meeting, the students were asked to write down topics that interested them and to discuss them in groups. Lavanya then presented the work of the groups, which consisted of a PowerPoint presentation performed to the whole class that focuses on one of the topics that each group has decided to look at. In order to decide the most interesting argument that could be presented, all the groups had to present to the rest of the class what topics students have been talking about, and which one they were thinking that would be the most intriguing for the presentation. In my group, we proposed the topic of “Black Twitter”, which is a community where black people share things (such as memes, jokes and so on) that cannot be understood by the others unless you are part of that specific community.

The main aim of this lab is to have the possibility to work with people and share with the other students your knowledge about a specific topic regarding popular culture that intrigues you; at the same time, student have the chance to listen to the other students’ presentations, acquiring new things that they may have not known about. In my opinion, I would say that the “Language and Popular Culture Lab” is an extracurricular activity that teaches you how to engage with people who have similar interests to yours, making new friends and enjoying what you are doing.

 The next Language & Popular Culture Lab session will be held on Wednesday 13th March, where students will present their research. More details about the Centre for Language, Discourse & Communication at King’s can be found here

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