Dr Seth Mehl
School of English
Senior Lecturer in Digital Humanities
+44 114 222 6115
Full contact details
School of English
Humanities Research Institute
Upper Hanover Street
I am Senior Lecturer in Digital Humanities in the Digital Humanities Institute (DHI), and Co-Director of the University of Sheffield Centre for Equity and Inclusion. I teach and conduct research in corpus linguistics, semantics, community archiving, co-production methodologies, and digital culture.
I have been at the University of Sheffield since 2015. From 2011 to 2015, I was a research and teaching fellow at the Survey of English Usage at University College London (UCL), where I also completed my PhD in English and MA in English Linguistics.
I am a member of The Keywords Project, the Oxford English Dictionary Advisory Forum, and the White Rose Gender Equality College. I was a council member of Britain’s oldest learned society, The Philological Society, from 2012 to 2020.
- Research interests
I am primarily active in two broad research areas: corpus semantics and community archiving.
My recent corpus semantic research focuses on words with multiple contested meanings, which lead to cross purposes and confusion in public debate and personal conversation: for example, decolonisation, gentrification, appropriation, fundamentalism, and white. These contentious multiple meanings often include newly emerging senses, and exhibit increasing vagueness. They also lead to potentially grave social, cultural, political, and material consequences.
I lead on the DHI’s concept modelling research, based on the Linguistic DNA project and subsequent collaborations with the BBC and the Oxford English Dictionary.
My community archiving research is primarily conducted in collaboration with a team of academic and non-academic researchers in rural South Africa, and employs community- led co-production methods. That work has supported the creation of community archives in the form of ‘live’ records of unfolding events; and records of the living memories of older adults; as a means for building capacity and exploring concepts of development and identity.
As Co-Director of the Centre for Equity and Inclusion, I support community archiving by racially marginalised PhD students at the University of Sheffield; and facilitate co-production between racially marginalised PhD students and local and regional social and racial justice organisations.
My recent and ongoing externally funded projects include:
- Centre for Equity and Inclusion. Office for Students and Research England. (As Co-Director).
- Community-led impact for rural land rights in South Africa: A multilingual best practice handbook. AHRC. (As Principal Investigator).
- Many Happy Returns - Enabling Reusable Packaging Systems. Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund: Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging Challenge. (As Co-Investigator).
- Land rights in rural South Africa: Creating a record of practice in an ongoing crisis. AHRC Urgency Grant. (As Principal Investigator).
- Mapping community heritage with young people in rural South Africa. AHRC GCRF Network Plus Funding. (As Principal Investigator).
- Introduction: ‘Digital Methods for Studying Meaning in Historical English’. Transactions of the Philological Society, 120(3), 397-398.
- Discursive quads: new kinds of lexical co‐occurrence data with linguistic concept modelling. Transactions of the Philological Society, 120(3), 474-488.
- “I don’t think education is the answer” : a corpus-assisted ecolinguistic analysis of plastics discourses in the UK. Journal of World Languages. View this article in WRRO
- Combining insights from the environmental and behavioural sciences to understand what is required to make reusable packaging mainstream. Sustainable Production and Consumption.
- Appropriation, gentrification, colonisation: newly synonymous?. Lexis(16). View this article in WRRO
- Make us difficult: portrait of a non-standard construction. English World-Wide, 41(3), 352-367. View this article in WRRO
- Corpus onomasiology in world Englishes and the concrete verbs make and give. World Englishes, 37(2), 185-206. View this article in WRRO
- What we talk about when we talk about corpus frequency: The example of polysemous verbs with light and concrete senses. Corpus Linguistics and Linguistic Theory, 0(0). View this article in WRRO
- Light verb semantics in the International Corpus of English: Onomasiological variation, identity evidence and degrees of lightness. English Language and Linguistics. View this article in WRRO
- Linguistic DNA: Investigating Conceptual Change in Early Modern English Discourse. Studia Neophilologica, 89(S1), 21-38. View this article in WRRO
- English language: Lexicography, lexicology and lexical semantics. The Year's Work in English Studies, 35-43.
- Volatile concepts. International Journal of Corpus Linguistics.
- Why Linguists Should Care about Digital Humanities (and Epidemiology). Journal of English Linguistics, 007542422110190-007542422110190.
- Comparing Baselines for Corpus Analysis: Research into the Get-Passive in Speech and Writing In Schützler O & Schlüter J (Ed.), Data and Methods in Corpus Linguistics: Comparative Approaches
- Cognitive Sociolinguistics Revisited In Kristiansen G, Franco K, De Pascale S, Rosseel L & Zhang W (Ed.) De Gruyter
- View this article in WRRO Measuring lexical co-occurrence statistics against a part-of-speech baseline In Parviainen H, Kaunisto M & Pahta P (Ed.), Corpus Approaches into World Englishes and Language Contrasts Helsinki: VAIRENG E-SERIES.
- Language Learning at Your Fingertips: Deploying Corpora in Mobile Teaching Apps In Corrigan K & Mearns A (Ed.), Creating and Digitizing Language Corpora Volume 3: Databases for Public Engagement (pp. 211-211). Springer
- Reading into the past, Advances in Historical Sociolinguistics (pp. 53-82). John Benjamins Publishing Company
- Christian Kay and Kathryn Allan (eds.). 2015. English Historical Semantics. Journal of Historical Pragmatics, 18(1), 152-156.
- Book Review: Corpus linguistics for grammar: A guide for research. Journal of English Linguistics, 44(2), 189-192.
- Michael Adams and Anne Curzan (eds.), Contours of English and English language studies. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2011. Pp. iv + 371. ISBN 978-0-472-03466-6.. English Language and Linguistics, 17(3), 571-576.
- Discursive Quads: New Kinds of Lexical Co‐occurrence Data With Linguistic Concept Modelling. Transactions of the Philological Society, 120, 474-488. View this article in WRRO
- Teaching interests
I welcome PhD applications related to corpus linguistics, semantics, Keywords, lexicography and lexicology, community archiving, and digital humanities.
- Teaching activities
I am the DHI’s Director of Postgraduate Research.
I contribute to teaching on the DHI’s MA in Digital Culture and Communication and MA in Cultural Data Management and Communication. With the other members of the team behind those programmes, I received the Vice Chancellor’s Award for Learning and Teaching in Collaborative Activities in 2022. I am module leader for IPA61003, Language Analysis, AI, and Culturomics, and I deliver teaching and supervision for IPA61005 Introduction to Digital Culture, and IPA61006, Digital Culture and Cultural Data e-Portfolio.
I am Co-Director of the University of Sheffield Centre for Equity and Inclusion, which works to improve the postgraduate research experience for students of colour.