Lauren Alex O' Hagan
Research student, Centre for Language and Communication Research, School of English, Communication and Philosophy
I completed my undergraduate degree in Modern Language Studies (Spanish, Italian and Linguistics) with the Open University in 2014. Throughout the four years of my undergraduate degree, I worked as an Online Shop Manager for Oxfam. In this role, I dealt with antiquarian books on a day to day basis and began to become fascinated by the range of beautiful book inscriptions, particularly from the Edwardian period (1901-1914). After reading a fantastic piece of research by Dr. Julia Gillen of Lancaster University on Edwardian postcards, I began to seriously consider the potential of a linguistic study on Edwardian book inscriptions - a topic that, to the best of my knowledge, had not been researched before. After much deliberation, I changed my long-established plan to specialise in translation at postgraduate level to that of linguistics. In 2014, I undertook a Masters in Applied Linguistics at Cardiff University, my dissertation focusing on multimodality in Edwardian bookplates. Cardiff University gave me a fantastic opportunity to thrive and develop as a researcher, so much so that I decided to remain at this institution to carry out a PhD in Language and Communication.
I also hold qualifications in Spanish (C2 DELE), Italian (C1 CILS), French (B2 DELF), and British Sign Language (Level 1), as well as a CELTA teaching qualification. In 2016, I was granted Associate Fellow status after having completed Cardiff University's Learning to Teach programme.
Since 2015, I have run B_Abel Linguistic Services, a company offering inverse and direct translation (Spanish, Italian and French), proofreading and EFL tutoring.
In addition to my interest in early 20th century book inscriptions and reading practices in Great Britain, I am particularly interested in other inscriptive practices of working-class and lower-class Edwardians and how they used inscriptions as symbolic representations of social mobility. I am also interested in 'deviant' Edwardian inscriptive practices (i.e. coin, stamp and postcard defacing) and other popular Edwardian multimodal artefacts (i.e. trade union certificates of membership, marching banners of the Temperance Society and the Women's Social and Political Union).
Outside of this research domain, I am also fascinated by two major topics of interest relating to Spain and the geographical region of Andalucia: the social stigma of the Andalucian dialect and the use of code-switching in Gibraltar.
2015-2016 Postgraduate Tutor (Cardiff University) Introduction to Language, Introduction to Language and Society
2015-present Cover ESOL Tutor, (Cardiff and Vale College)
Class, Culture and Conflict in the Edwardian Book Inscription: A Multimodal Ethnohistoric Approach
My current research uses a dataset of 3,000 book inscriptions collected from Book Barn International, Oxfam Online Shop and SCOLAR and historical records, such as censuses, street directories and military lists, to explore social hierarchies and class conflict in Edwardian Britain. I use an interdisciplinary approach that draws upon multimodality, ethnography and book history to explore the semiotic and material features of book inscriptions and their communicative functions, and how this varied according to social class. I also use Rosch's prototype theory to establish a new taxonomy of book inscriptions that accounts for the variety in use in early 20th century Britain. The study demonstrates that, while seemingly insignificant markers of ownership, book inscriptions, in fact, are important material testimonials of power relations and class struggles at the beginning of the 20th century in Britain. Not only do types of book inscriptions clearly reveal the four distinct class groups of Edwardian society, but they also highlight subtle ways in which the lower-classes sought social mobility and the upper-classes attempted to hold onto their positions.