Professor Michael Toolan MA, D.Phil, GDL

Department of English Language and Applied Linguistics
Professor of English Language

Contact details

Address
52 Pritchatts Road
University of Birmingham
Edgbaston
Birmingham
B15 2TT
UK

I chiefly teach and research in stylistics, narrative, and discourse analysis.

Biography

My undergraduate degree was a four-year MA in English Language and Literature from Edinburgh University; from there I went to St John’s College, Oxford, and completed a DPhil on William Faulkner’s style. Then for six years I taught at the National University of Singapore, followed by nine years, latterly with tenure, at the University of Washington, Seattle.

I came to the University of Birmingham English department in 1996, attracted by the lively community of English language researchers working here.  I have long nurtured a secondary interest in law and the power of language in all kinds of legal proceedings, and this led me to complete the Graduate Diploma in Legal Studies in 2000.  

Since 2002 I have been editor of the Journal of Literary Semanticsand am currently President of the International Association for Literary Semantics.  I am also quite involved in Integrational linguistics

Teaching

  • English Phonology and Morphology (UG)
  • Advanced English Grammar (UG)
  • The Language Poets Use (UG)
  • Language and the Law (UG)
  • Key Topics in Stylistics (PGT)
  • Narrative Analysis of Fiction and Film (PGT)

Postgraduate supervision

I supervise students at MA and Ph D level working on topics in literary linguistics and discourse analysis.

Research

My forthcoming book (early 2016) is a corpus stylistic study of short-story narratives:  Making sense with narrative text: situation, repetition, and mental picturing.   I have begun a major research project on the representations of wealth inequality in the UK news media in the period from 1971 to 2011.  This is both a critical discourse and historical linguistic study.

Other activities

Publications

My single-authored books include The Stylistics of Fiction (1988), Total Speech(1996), Language in Literature (1998), Narrative (2nd edition: 2001.  Narrative progression in the short story: a corpus stylistic approach appeared from Benjamins in 2009. I have edited several collections, including Language, Text and Context: essays in contextualised stylistics; and Language Teaching: integrational linguistic approaches (2009).

I have published approximately 70 papers (articles, essays, book chapters) in leading journals or multi-authored books, on topics ranging from English clause structures at the opening of Middlemarch; to ‘strained’ grammar in John McGahern’s short stories; to the Bournewood legal case and ‘voluntary’ detention under section 131 of the Mental Health Act; to the calculated incomprehensibility of dialogue in The Wire. Please see my fuller cv onmy website for details.

My most recent publication (September 2015) is:  ‘Poetry and poetics’, in R. Jones, ed., The Routledge Handbook of Language and Creativity, London: Routledge, 231-247.

Expertise

English language; the language of literature; the language of public discourses

Alternative contact number available for this expert: contact the press office

Expertise

English language; the language of literature; the language of public discourses

Alternative contact number available for this expert: contact the press office