Joanne McCuaig

Joanne McCuaig

Department of English Language and Linguistics
Doctoral researcher

Contact details

PhD title: Tracking Moral Shifts in American Culture, from Dignity to Victimhood; A Corpus Linguistic Investigation
SupervisorsDr Nicholas Groom, Dr Joe Spencer-Bennett and Dr Bodo Winter
PhD English Language and Applied Linguistics


  • Master in Applied Linguistics, with Distinction, University of Birmingham
    Dissertation title: An Analysis of Lexical Functions and Structural Features in Conservative and Progressive Editorials: Human Rights Discourse in South Korea
  • Bachelors in Sociology, Concentration in Gender, Work, and the Family, University of Calgary, Canada



I’m interested in tracking the changes of campus culture from the 1960s-2020 and the influence psychology, religion, and political ideology has had for generations of graduates from universities and colleges in the United States. This information will be relevant to business, education, mental health, and policy makers. I want my research to have a positive impact so that intergenerational communication within work, education, and mental health can be more productive. 

I have a unique perspective having grown up in Canada and then living and teaching English as a foreign language in both Taiwan and South Korea. I’ve taught undergraduate students in South Korea since 2008 and have been a tutor, maker and dissertation supervisor for graduate students with the University of Birmingham since 2013. I also conduct in-service teaching for the University of Birmingham since 2015 by way of a New Student Orientation, a Dissertation Workshop, and an Essay Writing Workshop.

I am keen to collaborate with other industries to use my research skills of discourse analysis and corpus linguistics, along with my personal skills gained from almost two decades living and working internationally. 


My research focuses on the perception of a purported shift in the moral culture of the United States in recent years, from one in which notions of personal ‘dignity’ were valorized to one in which notions of ‘victimhood’ have become more prominent. In particular, it has been claimed that negative psychological concepts such as abuse, bullying, trauma, mental disorder, addiction, and prejudice “have expanded their meanings so that they now encompass a much broader range of phenomena than before” (Haslam 2016: 1). The project will use the tools and methods of corpus-based discourse analysis to investigate whether and to what extent changes in the meaning and usage of words associated with these negative psychological concepts have occurred, and whether (and if so, how) such changes might be related to broader cultural shifts. 


Haslam, N. (2016). ‘Concept creep: Psychology's expanding concepts of harm and pathology.’ Psychological Inquiry 27/1: 1-17.

Other activities

Online presence:

Media engagement:

Joanne McCuaig was interviewed for a radio station discussing her research topic The Language of Victimhood Culture, as it relates to parenting. The 20 minute interview is accessible via podcast and begins around the 26:00 minute mark.

Title: 0419 Real Mom Real Talk
Uploaded: 20.04.20


  • ReproducibiliTEA Club (for Open Science) , April 2020 – Present
    • Presenter,  “Open Science: Replication success depends on the people?” October 14th, 2020


  • Corpus Coffee Time (Corpus Linguistics Discussion Group), August, 2020 - Present
  • DA Discussion (Discourse Analysis Discussion Group), October 2020 - Present


Embassy of Canada to the Republic of Korea: 2013-2016
Volunteer at quarterly meetings with a Canadian Diplomat of the Embassy of Canada in Korea (Political/Economic officer); to share information on the domestic political and economic situation, give feedback on the Embassy’s communication strategy, and share concerns of the local Canadian expat community.

JALT Annual International Conference Proceedings, Blind Peer Reviewer, 2013-2016

KOTESOL Research Committee, Research Chair 2013-2014

KOTESOL Research SIG: Co-facilitator, 2013-2014

Embassy of Canada to the Republic of Korea: 2013
Volunteer English language teacher for North Korean defectors in Seoul, South Korea at the Embassy of Canada in Korea. A two week, intensive language and culture program hosted by the Canadian Embassy to South Korea.