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. Dr Alison Sealey is currently involved in a Leverhulme-funded research project investigating the ways in which people talk and write about animals.

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 and the MA in Literary Linguistics. 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 Mel Evans Stylistic and sociolinguistic approaches to language and identity; analysis of historical materials, particularly correspondence.

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.

Jeannette Littlemore The ways in which figurative language use is shaped by genre and register.

Dr Rosamund Moon Discourse and ideological aspects of language, particularly from a lexical point of view; the representation of age and gender.

Gabriela Saldanha Translator style and literary creativity in translation. The ways in which gender identity is reflected and manipulated in translation.

Dr Alison Sealey  The connections between social processes and language in use – from face-to-face interactions to the laws which prescribe educational policy; the integration of linguistic analysis with research in other disciplines, including sociology, political science and ethology.

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.