Dr Sara Whiteley
School of English
Lecturer in English Language and Literature
+44 114 222 8498
Full contact details
School of English
1 Upper Hanover Street
I joined The University of Sheffield as a Lecturer in English Language and Literature in September 2012, having previously taught at the University of Chester.
My research interests lie at the interface between language and literature, in the disciplines of stylistics, cognitive poetics and discourse analysis. My research examines issues of textual effect and interpretation in relation to contemporary prose, poetry and other texts. I am particularly interested in studying the experience of reading and researching reader responses to literary texts using empirical methods.
- Research interests
I began my career by researching emotional responses to literature from a cognitive poetic perspective. My doctoral thesis used the Text World Theory framework in order to examine the emotional effects of three novels by Kazuo Ishiguro. I analysed readers’ emotional responses to the novels by studying reading group discussions and online forums, and used these to inform cognitive poetic theory on emotional response.
Subsequently, I became interested in the nature of reading group discussions and their potential as a source of data for stylisticians interested in literary response. I contributed to the Creative Writing in the Community project (2010) and led the Book of the Festival Project (2013) which both enabled me to record different reading groups discussing the same literary texts. I take a cognitive linguistic approach to the talk, using Text World Theory, and co-authored a book: The Discourse of Reading Groups: Integrating Cognitive and Sociocultural Perspectives (Routledge, 2016). I also co-edited a special issue of the journal Language and Literature about reader response research in stylistics.
My research interests extend beyond literature to the interpretation and effects of a variety of text types. In 2019 I co-authored an article examining the cognitive poetics of ‘Hey Ya’ by Outkast. I am a co-investigator on the British Academy funded ‘Linguistic creativity in the discourse of National Trust holiday cottage guestbooks’ project (2017-2019), which examines the inscriptions in guestbooks from a cognitive linguistic perspective. In 2018 I co-authored a textbook in stylistics: Contemporary Stylistics: Language, Cognition, Interpretation (Edinburgh University Press) and I co-edited the Cambridge Handbook of Stylistics with Professor Peter Stockwell (2014).
Most recently, I have been revisiting the works of Kazuo Ishiguro and preparing a monograph on The Language of Kazuo Ishiguro (forthcoming, Palgrave Macmillan) which combines cognitive and corpus stylistic approaches to his style and its effects on readers.
- Contemporary Stylistics: Language, Cognition, Interpretation. Edinburgh University Press.
- The Discourse of Reading Groups: Integrating Cognitive and Sociocultural Perspectives. New York: Routledge.
- The Cambridge Handbook of Stylistics. Cambridge University Press.
- Linguistic co-creativity and the performance of identity in the discourse of National Trust holiday cottage guestbooks. Language and Literature: International Journal of Stylistics. View this article in WRRO
- Do worlds have (fourth) walls? A Text World Theory approach to direct address in Fleabag. Language and Literature: International Journal of Stylistics, 30(2), 105-126. View this article in WRRO
- Interpreting real and fictional worlds in interaction: A socio-cognitive approach to reading group talk. Text & Talk, 41(1), 119-139.
- Interpreting (autistic?) mind style. Anglistik, 31(1), 71-89. View this article in WRRO
- ‘Y’all don’t wanna hear me, you just wanna dance’: A cognitive approach to listener attention in OutKast’s ‘Hey Ya!’. Language and Literature, 28(1), 7-22. View this article in WRRO
- Reader response research in stylistics. Language and Literature, 26(2), 71-87. View this article in WRRO
- Text world theory, real readers and emotional responses to the remains of the day. Language and Literature, 20(1), 23-42.
- Talking about 'An Accommodation': The implications of discussion group data for community engagement and pedagogy. Language and Literature, 20(3), 236-256.
- Chapter 2. Interpretation in interaction, Linguistic Approaches to Literature (pp. 23-41). John Benjamins Publishing Company
- Interpretation in interaction : On the dialogic nature of response, Linguistic Approaches to Literature (pp. 23-41).
- Creativity and Cognition in the Discourse of National Trust Holiday Cottage Guestbooks In Hart C (Ed.), Cognitive Linguistic Approaches to Text and Discourse: From Poetics to Politics (pp. 54-72). Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
- A cognitive poetic approach to researching the reading experience In Rothbauer PM, Skjerdingstad KI, McKechnie LEF & Oterholm K (Ed.), Plotting the Reading Experience: Theory, Practice, Politics (pp. 99-114). Ontario, Canada: Wilfred Laurier University Press.
- Building Resonant Worlds: Experiencing the Text-Worlds of The Unconsoled In Gavins J & Lahey E (Ed.), World Building: Discourse in the Mind Bloomsbury Publishing
- Emotion In Sotirova V (Ed.), The Bloomsbury Companion to Stylistics (pp. 507-522). Bloomsbury
- Ethics In Stockwell P & Whiteley S (Ed.), The Cambridge Handbook of Stylistics (pp. 393-407). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- Introduction In Stockwell P & Whiteley S (Ed.), The Cambridge Handbook of Stylistics (pp. 1-10).
- Coda: The practice of stylistics In Stockwell P & Whiteley S (Ed.), The Cambridge Handbook of Stylistics (pp. 607-615).
- Book Review: David West, I.A. Richards and the Rise of Cognitive Stylistics. Language and Literature: International Journal of Stylistics, 24(2), 167-170.
- Cognitive Poetics: Goals, Gains, and Gaps. PRAGMAT COGN, 18(1), 211-218.
- Why We Read Fiction: Theory of Mind and the Novel. LANG LIT, 17(3), 276-279.
- Research group
I welcome enquiries about research projects on:
- Discourse analysis and stylistics
- Cognitive poetics
- Emotion in discourse processing
- Reader/audience reception
- Teaching activities
My main undergraduate teaching responsibilities are on the BA in English Language and Literature degree, where I contribute to several of the degree’s core modules. I also run the optional third-year module ‘Researching Readers’.
At postgraduate level, I contribute to various MA modules across the school and convene the modules 'Literature of the Mind' and ‘Introduction to Literary Linguistics’.