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Dr Zsofia Demjen
Room 640
20 Bedford Way
Dr Zsofia Demjen profile picture
  • Associate Professor
  • IOE - Culture, Communication & Media
  • UCL Institute of Education
Research Groups
Research Themes
Research Summary

I work at the intersections of language, mind and health(care), exploring mental/physical illness. Examining the language of patients, carers, healthcare professionals, journalists, poets, writers, etc. I focus on how they say what they say to understand what it means to be unwell today. 

My approach is broadly discourse analytic, focusing on any aspect of language that stands out in a given context. I've worked specifically on metaphor, im/politeness, personal pronouns, negation, narratives and humour, investigating, among others, how:
  • the ideologies of the UK hospice movement influence what health professionals consider a ‘good death’;
  • the phenomenology of hallucinations differs from the straight-forwardly auditory perception of voices that others can also hear;
  • voices that others cannot hear exercise power and control over voice-hearers;
  • humour can help people cope with cancer;
  • different metaphors frame the experience of cancer;
  • the experience of depression is often characterized by physical pain and a split-self, along with emptiness and lethargy 
I often use corpus methods, which allow me to examine large quantities of language data quickly and systematically and to support findings quantitatively. Whenever possible, I focus on the potential practical applications of any findings for the diagnosis and treatment of specific conditions and the quality of healthcare services and communication. 

I am currently Co-investigator on the £1m ESRC-funded research project 'Questioning Vaccination Discourse: A corpus-based study (Quo VaDis)'. The interdisciplinary Quo VaDis project team aims to uncover and explore people's concerns around vaccinations by looking at how people actually talk or write about vaccination in different contexts. We want to better understand the range of pro-vaccination, anti-vaccination, and undecided views through language because how such controversial topics are talked about reflect and shape beliefs and attitudes, and potentially behaviour. 

PhD Supervision: 
I am interested in supervising students in the following areas:
  • Applied linguistic approaches to experiences of illness, health and wellbeing, especially cancer, mental illness, COPD, and vaccinations
  • Linguistic approaches to non/fictional illness narratives
  • Interactions in healthcare contexts (online or offline)
  • Metaphor in discourses of health (and other professional contexts)

Details on how to apply can be found here: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/ioe/courses/graduate-research/culture-communication-media-mphil-phd and here: http://blogs.ucl.ac.uk/cde/prospective-students/
Teaching Summary

Programme director: MA in Applied Linguistics.

Convenor: Language at Work: Communication in Professional, Institutional and Cultural Contexts (CCME0100)
Co-convenor: Dissertation Applied Linguistics and TESOL (CCME0053)

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