Humanities Research Centre
Founded in 2015, the Humanities Research Centre is designed to promote research excellence and foster relationships between scholars in all of the University’s departments across the Humanities.
Each year, the Centre has a number of key focal points for research while facilitating other internal and external collaborations.The Humanities Research Centre is a vibrant community that contains staff, as well as all of our taught and research postgraduates from Drama, English, History and Theology.
The Text and Reception strand brings together scholars in the humanities interested in the production, circulation and consumption of texts. Looking both at the texts themselves and their means of creation the group investigates the multiple ways meanings are created, ranging from manuscript production on scrolls, through the printed book to digital media.
Scholars in the group also share a broad interest in the responses to texts whether they be texts of classical antiquity, the Bible, books of the renaissance or the work of contemporary writers. Researchers involved in the group collaborate with Centre for Print History and Culture, Writing West Midlands, The Typographic Hub, and Library of Birmingham among others.
The spread of technology offers incredible potential for dialogue and exchange of ideas with people of different backgrounds, ideologies, and faiths. Since joining Newman in 2014, Stephen Pihlaja has addressed just a few of these online interactions in his painstakingly detailed monograph Antagonism on YouTube. By focusing on discourse from a variety of perspectives, Stephen addresses themes such as impoliteness, key metaphors and narrative construction.
Stephen’s research tries to make sense of the sheer complexity of online relationships by looking at the interactions among users of different faiths and no faith on social media. By assessing the thousands of online comments left by users to sites such as YouTube, Stephen seeks to understand how users on social media navigate difficult interaction around religion, building communities, evangelising, and arguing with users of different backgrounds.
Stephen is also interested in religious dialogue at Newman University, and particularly how Muslim students interact with the catholic ethos of the University. Stephen’s book on YouTube’s inter-religious dialogue is available on Bloomsbury Press. His next book, Religious Talk on Social Media will appear in 2017 with Cambridge University Press.