Discourse analysis and stylistics

Our research into genres of literary, social, academic and professional discourse draws on a variety of linguistic and theoretical traditions, including: systemic-functional linguistics; critical discourse analysis; corpus linguistics; multimodal analysis; narrative analysis; conversation analysis, and genre analysis.

Much of our work contributes to a revisionary grammar (grammar broadly conceived) of texts and genres.  Prominent interests are the kinds of impact that gender, institution, and nationality have on the dominant patterns of form and function in various kinds of discourse. We have particular strengths in the analysis of academic, workplace and professional discourse and its applications.

Much of our research is interdisciplinary, exploring language where it is embedded in the media, business interactions, education, film and digital technologies. Corpus research methods and resources are often central to our analyses. We also have a long tradition of work in literary stylistics (especially of prose fiction) and narratology.

As well as our popular PhD programme in English Language and Applied Linguistics, we run several Masters programmes that reflect our research activity in discourse and stylistic studies, particularly the MA in Critical Discourse, Culture and Communication. Our campus MA in Applied Linguistics and distance MA in Applied Linguistics programmes also feature options in spoken and written discourse analysis.

Members of the research cluster are also supervising, in total, approximately 30 students working on PhDs in this area. These students are exploring a number of exciting new fields for discourse analytic and stylistic research, including: multimodal narratives; workplace discourse; discoursal performance of gender and identity; stylistic analysis of film; and corpus stylistic studies of literary translation. Our particular strength at Birmingham is that we combine discourse analysis with corpus analytic methods of research. This is reflected in numerous ongoing projects, e.g. our interdisciplinary and intradisciplinary work on figurative language.

Staff and their areas of expertise

  • Dr Nicholas Groom Phraseological analysis of specialised discourses; historical approaches to discourse analysis.
  • Robert Holland Discourse and ideology, media discourse, and language and intercultural communication.
  • Professor Susan Hunston The study of evaluative language and the analysis of written academic English.
  • Professor Jeannette Littlemore The ways in which figurative language use is shaped by genre and register.
  • Dr Ruth Page Narrative analysis, computer-mediated communication and language and gender.
  • Dr Paul Thompson Academic discourse and uses of educational technologies in language learning.
  • Professor Michael Toolan  The language of narrative progression and immersion, and literary creativity.