Professor Michael Toolan MA, D.Phil, GDL

Photograph of Professor Michael Toolan

Department of English Language and Linguistics
Professor of English Language
Study Abroad Tutor for School of EDACS

Contact details

Address
Frankland Building
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  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 Semantics and am on the board of the International Association for Literary Semantics and recently completed a 3-year term as Chair of the Poetics and Linguistics Association. 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

Professor Toolan is interested in supervising doctoral research in:

Stylistic analysis of poetry (especially twentieth- and twenty-first-century)
Linguistic analysis of literary narratives
Integrational linguistic theory
Sociolinguistic study of teenagers' narratives of identity


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

Research

My most recent research has been on how some of the UK news media have ‘normalized’ the increased wealth inequality that has harmed the UK in recent decades.  The research combines corpus linguistic and critical discourse analytical methods, and is the topic of my most recent book, The Language of Inequality in the News: A Discourse Analytic Approach (Cambridge University Press, 2018).  In narrative studies, my corpus stylistic study of short-story narratives appeared in 2016 from Routledge: Making sense of narrative text: situation, repetition, and mental picturing.

Other activities

Publications

My single-authored books include The Stylistics of Fiction (1988), Total Speech: An Integrational Linguistic Approach to Language (1996), Language in Literature (1998), Narrative: A Critical Linguistic Introduction (2nd edition: 2001), Narrative progression in the short story: a corpus stylistic approach(2009), Making sense of narrative text: situation, repetition, and mental picturing (2016) and The Language of Inequality in the News: A Discourse Analytic Approach (2018). 

I have edited several collections, including Language, Text and Context: essays in contextualised stylistics (1992); The Writer's Craft, the Culture's Technology (2005; with Carmen Rosa Caldas-Coulthard); and Language Teaching: integrational linguistic approaches (2009).

I have published approximately 80 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 on my website for details.

View all publications in research portal

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