Free Webinar: Conceptual Analysis and Thematic Corpora

Theory, Methodology and Indicative Case Studies

A webinar organized by the Genealogies of Knowledge Research Network, in collaboration with Aston University, UK

Date: Thursday 12th November

Time: 09.45-13.00 (GMT)

Venue: Blackboard Collaborate Ultra


Despite longstanding interest in the study of concepts across many disciplines and the phenomenal growth in corpus-based studies since the late 1980s, very little has been published on the intersection of these two, broad areas of scholarship. Much recent work in conceptual history continues to rely on the close textual analysis of a relatively limited set of mainly print resources, for instance to chart the evolution of genius in eighteenth-century Britain (Townsend 2019), or the process by which Persian jins/genus came to mean ‘sex’ (Najmabadi 2013). Such work could greatly benefit from the application of corpus techniques, if resources for the analysis of concepts were easily accessible. However, the construction of most available corpora in fields as varied as linguistics, translation studies and public health has been based on criteria such as genre, register variation or medium (mainly spoken vs written). Other popular compilation criteria include setting (e.g. ECPC corpus of European Chambers texts; Calzada Pérez 2017), authorship, gender (e.g. the Women Writers Online corpus), or broad areas of practice such as medicine or law. The problem with using such resources for conceptual analysis is that the key concepts that shape and frame human experience travel across registers, media, settings and genres. In addition, most diachronic and historical corpora compiled to date, like the Corpus of Early Modern English Medical Texts and the Old Bailey Corpus, tend not to incorporate the multilingual and translational perspective necessary to capture processes of language contact and change. Thus, while offering valuable resources within specific disciplinary perspectives, most existing corpora do not readily support studies on the evolution or contestation of key concepts in social and political life, which require access to corpora designed primarily with thematic criteria in mind.

What are thematic corpora? How should they be built, and what kind of research do they facilitate? In line with the remit of the Genealogies of Knowledge (GoK) Project and Research Network, this event aims to stimulate interest in corpus-based conceptual analysis, particularly in relation to translation and other forms of mediation. The GoK corpora are being compiled with the specific aim of capturing the evolution and contestation of keywords pertaining to the body politic and to the domain of scientific expertise. They are designed to be used across the humanities, and to inspire complementary efforts involving other languages and knowledge domains. This webinar will feature contributions to the theoretical or methodological dimensions of this research agenda, complemented with case studies that demonstrate the theory and methodology in action.

Keynote presentations

Felix Berenskoetter (SOAS University of London): ‘The politics, and the political, of concept analysis’

Alison Sealey (University of Lancaster): ‘Constructing a thematic corpus: methodological challenges

Case studies

Jan Buts (Trinity College Dublin) and Henry Jones (Aston University): ‘Non-translation of political concepts in online activist discourse

Luis Pérez-González (University of Manchester): ‘Credentialed vs. Grounded Expertise in the Climate Change Blogosphere: Drawing on Thematic Corpora for the Study of Ongoing Epistemic Shift’


The keynote and case study presentations will be hosted using the video conferencing software Blackboard Collaborate Ultra and each talk will be followed by a Q&A session to which registered participants are warmly invited to contribute.

All presentations will be recorded and made available for viewing at a later date via the Genealogies of Knowledge website (


Registration for this event is free. Please register for the event via the following EventBrite link:

The webinar organisers will send a link providing access to the Blackboard Collaborate Ultra platform to all registered participants.


Calzada Pérez, M. (2017) ‘Corpus-based Methods for Comparative Translation and Interpreting Studies’, Translation and Interpreting Studies 12(2): 231-252.

Najmabadi, A. (2013) ‘Genus of Sex or the Sexing of Jins’, International Journal of Middle East Studies 45: 211-231.

Townsend, D. (2019) ‘On Genius: The development of a philosophical concept of genius in eighteenth-century Britain’, Journal of the History of Ideas 80(4). Available at


Conceptual Analysis and Thematic Corpora: Theory, Methodology and Indicative Case Studies