One of the new networks will explore the impact of social media

Roberta Cortese (Flickr)

New research networks to explore social media's impact, gender in literature and more

Clemency Pleming

How is social media affecting our behaviour?

Has the gender of an author influenced whether their work is accepted into the literary ‘canon’?

These are among the questions being explored by four new research networks at Oxford University.

The new networks will bring together researchers from across the Humanities and beyond will come together to discuss topics from the Psalms to social media as The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities (TORCH) launches four new research networks.

The new networks, #SocialHumanities, Gender and Authority, Rethinking the Contemporary, and the Oxford Psalms Network, will hold talks, workshops, performances and conversations for scholars to share and discuss their findings.

Professor Elleke Boehmer, Professor of World Literature in English and Director of TORCH, said: ‘We are delighted to support these new networks that capture the breadth, liveliness and diversity of research in Oxford.

'Bringing together researchers from a wide range of subjects and career stages, these networks address contemporary concerns, longstanding questions, and pressing new global challenges. The networks’ events are open to all and we encourage you to come along and find out more!’   

#SocialHumanities will look at how social media is affecting our language, behaviour and culture. The network will probe the value of social media to society, and what the risks and dangers might be.

Yin Yin Lu, who is studying for a DPhil in Information, Communication and the Social Sciences, said: 'Social media research is exploding.

'Data generated by platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube have become the substance of academic inquiry, because they reveal much about social processes and human behaviour.'

The Gender and Authority project will look at the literary “canon”. Through public seminars, researchers will explore how gender influences whose work comes to be considered “classic literature”, and whose work is marginalised.

It will look at how we determine the quality and authority of works of art, and which assumptions might distort our view.

Rethinking the Contemporary will investigate the major forces at work in the world since the 1980s, from the changing role of religion to the transformative effects of the internet.

David Priestland, Professor of Modern History, said: 'Of course, a great deal of work is being done on the contemporary world, especially in the social sciences, but many scholars in the humanities are also interested in these issues, and we wanted to create a forum to link them together.'

The Oxford Psalms Network will examine the impact of the Psalms from the earliest times to the present day, looking at how the Psalms have been translated and reinterpreted in different cultures and settings, and how they have influenced culture and identity in Christianity, Judaism and other world religions.

TORCH is an interdisciplinary research centre which promotes collaboration between Oxford humanities researchers and other disciplines, institutions and external partners.

For more information on these networks, and the other networks in TORCH, click here.