Dr Melanie Evans BA, MA, PhD

Dr Melanie Evans

Department of English Language and Applied Linguistics

Contact details

52 Pritchatts Road
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

I teach on a range of undergraduate English Language modules including 'Development and Variation in English', and convene the 'Narrative Analysis' and 'Language, Gender and Identity' specialist modules. I also convene the MA Literary Linguistics, and teach the second semester module 'Language, Style and Identity'.

My research interests include language variation and change, particularly in relation to Early Modern English. I am keen to test and develop theory and methods devised in contemporary sociolinguistics for the analysis of the language of the past, and encourage interdisciplinary links between the work of linguistics, literature and history in the field of Early Modern studies.

I am also interested in the interface between the language of the individual, local meaning and macro-level language change, the evolution of spelling practices, and the significance of stylistic variation in literary and everyday communicative contexts.


  • BA, MA (University of Sheffield)
  • PhD (University of Sheffield)


I presently convene two third-year specialist modules, 'Narrative Analysis' and 'Language, Gender and Identity', and teach on the second-year 'Development and Variation in English'. I also lecture on a range of modules across the department, including DAVE, LAVC, Text and Discourse, and Shakespeare.

I am currently convene the MA Literary Linguistics, teaching the first-semester core module 'Language and Literature' and teach an optional second-semester module 'Language, Style and Identity'.

Postgraduate supervision

I will consider supervising projects relating to my research areas:

  1. Variation and change in historical periods of English
  2. Language and identity, particularly gender
  3. English style (of various conceptualizations) during the early modern period (1500-1700). 

I also encourage projects that endeavour to test and develop the theories of contemporary sociolinguistics (i.e. idiolectal variation and change; Communities of Practice) and use innovative methodologies (corpus-based or otherwise) using historical or contemporary data.


My research interests combine linguistic and literary areas of study. I am especially interested in the idiolect (the language of an individual), historical sociolinguistics, corpus linguistics, and sixteenth-century England (and English). My past research examines the language and style of Queen Elizabeth I, based on her extant correspondence, speeches and translations.

I am interested in testing modern sociolinguistic theory on historical data, and using the sociolinguistic approach to enhance our understanding of the linguistic and social practices of historical individuals. Stylistic variation is a significant component. My ongoing work investigates how early modern micro-level (that is, individual) conceptions of "style" relate to the macro-level trends and developments we see in the language during this period. I am interested in how social and correspondence networks correlate with linguistic variation amongst historical communities, especially the early modern court, and how contemporary models, such as Communities of Practice, can help to illuminate the complex power practices of these domains.

I also use my linguistic expertise to explore manuscript culture, particularly in regards to authorship analysis and our understanding of text production (e.g. correspondence) in the early modern period.

My work on narrative also has a historical dimension. I am currently exploring the historical developments of reported speech in confessional narratives and correspondence, particularly the depiction of utterances attributed to Tudor monarchs, and how these real-world texts relate to the emergence of representation modes in fictional, literary discourse.

Other activities

I have presented my work at a number of international conferences, including Renaissance Society of America and iMean and am an active member of the Poetics and Linguistics Association (PALA).  


  • 2011 ‘This Haunted House: Intertextuality and Interpretation in Mark Danielewski’s House of Leaves (2000) and Poe’s Haunted (2000)’ in A. Gibson and J. Bray (eds.) Mark Z. Danielewski Contemporary American and Canadian Novelists (Manchester: Manchester University Press)
  • 2012 'A Sociolinguistics of early modern spelling? A case study of Queen Elizabeth I', Tyrkko et al. (eds). Outposts of Historical Linguistics: from the Helsinki corpus to a proliferation of resources. VARIENG Volume 10. Helsinki <http://www.helsinki.fi/varieng/journal/volumes/10/evans>
  • (forthcoming, 2013) The Language of Queen Elizabeth I: a sociolinguistic perspective on royal style and identity (Transactions of the Philological Society Monograph Series 45), Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell
  • (forthcoming, 2014) ‘Pronouns of Majesty: a study of royal we and other self-reference pronouns during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I’, Journal of Historical Pragmatics 15.1(forthcoming 2014)
  • In progress ‘Six Newly-Discovered Letters of Princess Elizabeth’, co-written with Dr. Alan Bryson (University of Sheffield)