PhD Student Profile


Jacopo Castaldi

PhD Student

School: School of Language Studies and Applied Linguistics

Campus: Canterbury

Biographical Note

I worked in the TEFL industry for over 10 years before being awarded a full-time PhD scholarship at CCCU in 2018. After achieving a MSc in Applied Linguistics from the University of Edinburgh, I worked as teacher, teacher trainer, Director of Studies and Principal. I also hold a PG Diploma in TESOL from CCCU and a PG Diploma in ELT Management from Trinity College London / English UK. My non-academic interests are travelling, photography, acoustic guitar, basketball and running.

Project Title

A Gramscian approach to the study of socio-economic and cultural issues in travel and cultural documentaries with a focus on the perception of viewers: combining Multimodal Critical Discourse Analysis and Audience Research.

Research Outline

My research proposes the integration of Audience Research in Multimodal Critical Discourse Studies in order to investigate how ideologies are negotiated between viewers and media texts. The research builds on the assumption that multimodal semiosis is infused with ideologies, as the choice of signs is always motivated. Moreover, my approach takes a narrow reading of Gramsci’s concept of hegemony, where ideological dissemination is seen as the work of civil society, rather than political society, and therefore focuses on the mass-mediated genre of travel and cultural documentaries. The approach, however, acknowledges the agentive role of the individual in ideology formation and, through the analysis of four case studies, aims to shed some light on the whole process of mass-mediated, multimodal struggle to conquer the ideological terrain, from reception to production, through distribution. This is attempted through a qualitative analysis of the unique interaction of a viewer with the programme of their choice, explored by means of a pre- and after-viewing questionnaire and follow-up interview, as well as a critical multimodal textual analysis of the programme chosen. Through the investigation of how social actors and events are represented during the interactive experience and drawing on theoretical and analytical concepts borrowed from the cognitive-pragmatic model of Relevance Theory, cognitive CDA and social semiotics, the research explores how individuals use media discourses to build their ideological milieus, whilst at the same time critically exploring the societal struggles associated with those discourses, with a particular focus on socio-economic and cultural issues. Preliminary findings suggest that media texts have ideological effects on the viewers and the research attempts to establish the conditions under which this phenomenon occurs.

Supervisory Team

  • Dr Alexandra Polyzou (First Supervisor)
  • Dr Christopher Anderson (Second Supervisor)
  • Dr Andy Birtwistle (Chair)

Research outputs

  • 23 April 2021. ‘Multimodal Manipulation in Travel Documentaries: Bypassing Epistemic Vigilance’. The Bremen-Groningen Online Workshops on Multimodality. University of Bremen, Germany and University of Groningen, the Netherlands. Online.
  • 13-15 November 2020. ‘Keeping the myth of the British Empire alive: combining a multi-semiotic analysis of two BBC travel documentaries with audience research’. Fourth International Conference on Semiotics and Visual Communication 2020: Myths Today. Cyprus University of Technology, Lemesos, Cyprus.
  • 8-10 May 2020. ‘The representation of the British Empire in BBC’s Burma with Simon Reeve (2018): Combining Multimodal Critical Discourse Analysis and Audience Research to investigate the interaction between media and the audience’. International Conference on Multimodal Communication: Developing New Theories and Methods. University of Osnabrück, Germany. – CONFERENCE CANCELLED DUE TO COVID-19.
  • 9 December 2019. ‘A Multimodal Analysis of the Representation of the Rohingya Crisis in BBC's Burma with Simon Reeve (2018): Building Consensus for Political Action?’. Multimodal Research 2019 International Conference. Auckland University of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand.
  • 18 September 2019. 'Interculturality in the Media. Combining Multimodal Critical Discourse Analysis and Reception Theory'. Across the Live/Mediatised Divide. A Cross-Disciplinary Audience Research Conference. University of York.
  • 28 June 2019. 'Interculturality and the Media. Building Bridges or Burning Them?'. Cutting Edges Conference. Canterbury Christ Church University, Canterbury, UK.
  • 22 May 2019. 'Media and the transformation of “reality”. A Critical Discourse Analysis of BBC Panorama’s “Slumdogs and Millionaires”'. PGRA Conference. Canterbury Christ Church University, Canterbury, UK.
  • 16 July 2018. ‘Critical Discourse Studies and Hegemony – A Gramscian Approach’. Colloquium on Pragmatics, Discourse, and Society. University of Kent, Canterbury, UK.
  • 23 January 2018. ‘Internationalisation in universities: to what extent do institutional boundaries delineate a researcher’s identity? A critical view’. Internationalisation of the Postgraduate. Interrogating Identities, CLIE Conference. Canterbury Christ Church University, Canterbury, UK.


  • Castaldi, J., (2021). A multimodal analysis of the representation of the Rohingya crisis in BBC’s Burma with Simon Reeve (2018): Integrating Audience Research in Multimodal Critical Discourse Studies. Multimodal Communication, 10(1), pp. 55-72
  • Castaldi, J. (2015) Implementing an action research scheme at English in Margate. In IATEFL Leadership and Management SIG Newsletter. February 2015, Issue 46.

Teaching experience at CCCU

  • BA in English Language: Discourse, Text and Genre; Intercultural Communication 2
  • Foundation Year: English Language; Understanding Arts and Humanities
  • Pre-Sessional Programme in Academic English and Research Skills for PhD Students
  • English as a Foreign Language Teacher Training Programmes
  • General English as a Foreign Language Programmes

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Last edited: 26/04/2021 15:45:00