Professor Michaela Mahlberg PhD

Photograph of Professor Michaela Mahlberg

Department of English Language and Linguistics
Chair in Corpus Linguistics
Co-Director, Centre for Corpus Research

Contact details

Arts Building
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

As a corpus linguist, I am interested in language as a social phenomenon and the way in which we use language to understand and shape the world we live in. A large part of my research focuses on the language of Dickens’s fiction, literary linguistics, and discourse analysis.

I am currently Principal Investigator on the AHRC funded CLiC Dickens project.

I speak about Corpus Linguistics on this Hay Levels video (i.e. a 3-minute masterclass for A-level students).

Michaela Mahlberg is part of the Birmingham Plastics Network, an interdisciplinary team of more than 40 academics working together to shape the fate and sustainable future of plastics.  This unique team brings together chemists, environmental scientists, philosophers, linguists, economists, artists, writers, lawyers and experts in many other fields, to holistically address the global plastics problem.

Michaela Mahlberg on ResearchGate



  • 2008 Certificate in Professional Studies (CPS) in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education (University of Liverpool, UK)
  • 2004 PhD in English Linguistics (Universität des Saarlandes, Saarbrücken, Germany)
  • 2000 Staatsexamen, English and Mathematics, (University of Bonn, Germany)


After completing a Staatsexamen in English and Mathematics at the University of Bonn (in 2000), I became increasingly interested in corpus linguistics, so I went on to do a PhD on high-frequency nouns and graduated from the University of Saarbruecken in 2004. Before joining the University of Birmingham in 2015, I taught English Language and Linguistics at the University of Bari (Italy), Liverpool University College (UK), the University of Liverpool (UK) and the University of Nottingham (UK).


I have been teaching a range of modules on corpus linguistics, Dickens, literary linguistics, discourse analysis, grammar, and research methods. I am currently convenor of the second year module Voices in Fiction and teach on several MA modules.

Postgraduate supervision

Michaela Mahlberg is interested in supervising dissertations in a range of areas of corpus linguistics, Dickens’s fiction, literary linguistics, and discourse analysis. Please do get in touch if you want to discuss ideas for proposals.

Professor Mahlberg is also always looking out for potential PhD candidates who would like to get involved in research projects and work for the International Journal of Corpus Linguistics.

Find out more - our PhD English Language and Applied Linguistics  page has information about doctoral research at the University of Birmingham.


Studying texts with corpus software - Michaela Mahlberg

My main research interests are in corpus linguistics and contextual approaches to meaning. In the field of corpus linguistics I have published on the relationship between lexis and grammar and the way in which phraseology contributes to cohesion in texts. Another major focus of my research is corpus stylistics, an area of research that employs corpus linguistic methods for the study of literary texts.

I am particularly interested in textual patterns of body language presentation and have worked extensively on Dickens's fiction. I am currently Principal Investigator on the AHRC-funded project (with Co-investigator Peter Stockwell) "CLiC Dickens - characterisation in the representation of speech and body language from a corpus stylistic perspective".

Other activities

I am the Director of the Centre for Corpus Research. I am the editor of the International Journal of Corpus Linguistics. Together with Wolfgang Teubert I edit the book series Corpus and Discourse. I am a member of the following Editorial/Advisory Boards: Corpora (peer-reviewed journal, EUP), Studies in Corpus Linguistics (book series edited by Elena Tognini-Bonelli, published by John Benjamins), Korpuslinguistik und Interdisziplinäre Perspektiven auf Sprache - Corpus linguistics and Interdisciplinary perspectives on language (CLIP) (book series edited by Holger Keibel, Marc Kupietz, Christian Mair, published by Gunter Narr), Diskursmuster - Discourse Patterns (book series edited by Ingo H. Warnke and Beatrix Busse, published by de Gruyter).

I am a member of the AHRC's Peer Review College, the Board of ICAME and the following professional societies: Pala, ISLE, BAVS.


Recent publications


Wiegand, V & Mahlberg, M (eds) 2019, Corpus Linguistics, Context and Culture. Diskursmuster / Discourse Patterns, vol. 15, De Gruyter.


March, E, Moran, D, Houlbrook, M, Jewkes, Y & Mahlberg, M 2023, 'Defining the Carceral Characteristics of the ‘Dickensian prison’: A Corpus Stylistics Analysis of Dickens’s Novels', Victoriographies, vol. 13, no. 1, pp. 15-41.

Mahlberg, M & Cermakova, A 2022, 'Gendered body language in children’s literature over time', Language and Literature, vol. 31, no. 1, pp. 11-40.

Čermáková, A & Mahlberg, M 2022, 'The representation of mothers and the gendered social structure of nineteenth-century children’s literature', English Text Construction, vol. 14, no. 2, pp. 119–149.

Egbert, J & Mahlberg, M 2020, 'Fiction—One Register or Two? Speech and narration in novels', Register Studies , vol. 2, no. 1, pp. 72-101.

Fuoli, M, Clarke, I, Wiegand, V, Ziezold, H & Mahlberg, M 2020, 'Responding effectively to customer feedback on Twitter: a mixed methods study of webcare styles', Applied Linguistics, vol. 2020, amaa046.

Mahlberg, M, Wiegand, V, Stockwell, P & Hennessey, A 2019, 'Speech-bundles in the 19th-century English novel', Language and Literature, vol. 28, no. 4, pp. 326-353.

Huntley, SJ, Mahlberg, M, Wiegand, V, van Gennip, Y, Yang, H, Dean, RS & Brennan, ML 2018, 'Analysing the opinions of UK veterinarians on practice-based research using corpus linguistic and mathematical methods', Preventive Veterinary Medicine, vol. 150, pp. 60-69.


Mahlberg, M & Wiegand, V 2022, Exploring narrative fiction: corpora and digital humanities projects. in A O'Keeffe & MJ McCarthy (eds), The Routledge Handbook of Corpus Linguistics. 2nd edn, Routledge, London, pp. 532–546.

Mahlberg, M, Wiegand, V & Hennessey, A 2020, Eye language – body part collocations and textual contexts in the nineteenth-century novel. in L Fesenmeier & I Novakova (eds), Phraseology and Stylistics of Literary Language/Phraséologie et stylistique de la langue littéraire. Peter Lang, Bern.

Mahlberg, M & Wiegand, V 2020, Literary stylistics. in S Adolphs & D Knight (eds), The Routledge Handbook of English Language and Digital Humanities. Routledge, pp. 306–327. <>

Mahlberg, M & Wiegand, V 2020, Stylistics and the Digital Humanities. in S Conrad, A Hartig & L Santelmann (eds), The Cambridge Introduction to Applied Linguistics. Cambridge University Press, pp. 219–234.

Wiegand, V & Mahlberg, M 2019, Introduction: On context and culture in corpus linguistics. in Corpus Linguistics, Context and Culture. De Gruyter, pp. 1–9.

Mahlberg, M & Wiegand, V 2018, Corpus stylistics, norms and comparisons: Studying speech in Great Expectations. in R Page, B Busse & N Nørgaard (eds), Rethinking Language, Text and Context: Interdisciplinary Research in Stylistics in Honour of Michael Toolan. 1 edn, Routledge, New York & London, pp. 123-143. <>

Other contribution

Wiegand, V & Mahlberg, M 2018, The CLiC web app – a corpus tool for studying literary texts..

View all publications in research portal