World Futures: Multimodal Viewpoint Construction by Russian International Media (February 2022 - February 2024)
(funded by AHRC and DFG: UK-German Funding Initiative in the Humanities)
Principal Investigators: Dr Anna Wilson and Dr Peter Uhrig
Co-Investigators: Dr Scott Hale, Dr Elinor Payne , Professor Philip Torr
Discussions of futures have never been more important and challenging than now when the world finds itself fighting COVID-19. People engage in conversations about what our lives will look like after the pandemic, and so do the media. The media often talk about futures to frame the way we think, and the media use viewpoint construction rooted in the depiction of futures as a subtle but powerful approach to manipulate and influence public opinion.
The project’s three main research questions are:
- How is effective disinformation constructed and communicated by media multimodally?
- How does the way people imagine futures enable the construction and communication of multimodal disinformation?
- How can a combination of human and machine approaches help us research multimodal disinformation effectively?
In the true spirit of the digital humanities, our 2-year project will fuse cognitive and corpus-driven/based analyses of language, prosody, and gesture with area studies (regional knowledge: culture, literature, history, and society), while leveraging latest developments in machine learning, natural language processing and computer vision to tackle the problem at scale. We combine multimodal analysis of Russian international media broadcasts (English and Russian) with the analysis of audiences’ comments on social media to open a window onto viewpoint construction in the audiences’ minds and thus provide additional validity to linguistic analysis of disinformation. Our project will break new ground in cognitive and corpus linguistics to significantly increase the overall reliability of large media data analysis currently used in linguistics as well as other humanities and the social sciences. Our approach will help answer questions posed by academic researchers and Western policymakers in relation to future information threats and mitigations. Ultimately, the project will go beyond the applied linguistics approach to disinformation analysis. It will enable researchers to test multimodal patterns found in a systematic way, thereby addressing one of the biggest challenges linguists face. Furthermore, the project will contribute to answering such big questions in multimodal research in theoretical linguistics (semantics, syntax, pragmatics, comparative) as:
- How are meanings constructed multimodally and how are multimodal meanings perceived?
- How is the construction of meanings distributed across gestural, prosodic, and verbal modes? Are the “redundant” modes of gesture and prosody really redundant?
- How do languages with quite distinct grammatical and phonetic properties, rooted in quite diverse historical and cultural backgrounds, realise the ideas of time and space multimodally while pursuing the same overarching communicative and pragmatic goals?
International Multimodal Communication Collaboration (October 2021 - March 2023)
(funded by the John Fell OUP Research Fund)
Principal Investigator: Dr Anna Wilson
Co-Investigators: Dr Scott Hale, Professor Philip Torr, Dr Elinor Payne
This project will catalyse interdisciplinary research on mass media. It will build upon the foundation laid by the International Multimodal Communication Centre (IMCC) – a research programme hosted by OSGA, which represents an exciting constellation of research links between OSGA, the Oxford Internet Institute, Department of Engineering Science, the Faculty of Linguistics, the Oxford Text Archive, and the Defence and Science Technology Laboratory. This project aims to formalise and cement these links and do collaborative interdisciplinary research on multimodal depictions of futures in media.
Depictions of Post-COVID-19 Futures in Russian International Media: Multimodal Viewpoint Analysis (January - March 2021)
(funded by UKRI, Strategic Priorities Fund, University of Oxford)
Principal Co-Investigators: Dr Anna Wilson, Dr Scott Hale, Professor Philip Torr
This project contributes to the ongoing development of a novel, state-of-the-art methodology and new algorithms to detect and counter 21st-century information threats by focusing on the analysis of multimodal strategies used by media, which are rooted in manipulative use of the depictions of post COVID-19 futures and rely on integrations between speech and co-speech gesture. Our project fuses—in a ground-breaking way—social science theory, area studies, cognitive and corpus linguistics, natural language processing (NLP), and computer vision (CV) to tackle the problem at scale, as applied to Russia.