Dr Joe Bennett

Department of English Language and Applied Linguistics
Lecturer in Applied Linguistics
Director of Undergraduate Programmes

Contact details

Room 103, 3 Elms Road
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

I teach on a number of courses in the School of English, Drama and American and Canadian Studies, and I research relations between language, communication and society. My current focus is the moral and ethical life of language.


  • BA (hons) Linguistics, Edinburgh
  • MA Critical Discourse, Culture and Communication, Birmingham
  • PhD English, Birmingham
  • Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice, Birmingham


I have worked as a lecturer at the University of Birmingham since 2011. Before that I taught part-time at the university, and at York, Aston and Wolverhampton.


I teach and convene a number of modules in the School of English, Drama, American and Canadian Studies. In 2015-16, these modules are:

  • Theories of Language (1st year)
  • Creative Practice: Language (1st year)
  • Discourse & Society (3rd year)
  • Social and Multimodal Aspects of Communication (MA)
  • Multimodal Communication (Distance Learning MA)

Postgraduate supervision

I am keen to supervise postgraduate research in the areas of Critical Discourse Analysis, Sociolinguistics, and Multimodal Communication.

I am currently supervising PhD work on: nationalist ideologies in the Japanese language classroom; the concept of ‘agency’ in critical linguistics; the discourse of liveblogs; university fund-raising discourse; media discourses on vegetarianism; representations of gay men with HIV and AIDS; representations of Thailand on tourist and travel websites.


In very general terms, my research focuses on relations between language, communication, and society. But I have particular interests in the following:

  1. The moral and ethical life of language. I am writing a book on the ways in which language is implicated in the social activity of moral evaluation. I am also interested in the ways in which people make moral and ethical evaluations of language itself.
  2. Relations between language and social class. This I have explored in my PhD on the word ‘chav’ and in a number of papers since.

Other activities

I am an external examiner for undergraduate programmes in English Language at the University of Manchester and at Oxford Brookes. 


In preparation. How to Do Things With Morality: a Critical Sociolinguistic Approach to Moral Talk.

In preparation. The moral life of language: were British MPs ‘paying tribute’ to Margaret Thatcher or ‘singing her praises’?

Under review. The critical problem of cynical irony: meaning what you say and ideologies of class and gender. Social Semiotics, special issue on gender, humour and social structure

2014. Avoiding emotivism: a sociolinguistic approach to moral talk. Language & Communication 39: 73-82.

2013. Moralising class: a discourse analysis of the mainstream political response to Occupy and the August 2011 British riots. Discourse & Society 24(1): 27-45

2012. Chav-spotting in Britain: the representation of social class as private choice. Social Semiotics 23(1): 146-162.

2012. ‘And what comes out may be a kind of screeching’: the stylisation of chavspeak in contemporary Britain. Journal of Sociolinguistics 16(1): 5-27.

2007. The discursive construction of British identity in six daily newspapers. Edinburgh Working Papers in Applied Linguistics, 15