Dr Seth Mehl
School of English
+44 114 222 6115
Full contact details
School of English
Humanities Research Institute
Upper Hanover Street
I am Lecturer in the Digital Humanities Institute (DHI), where I conduct research in subject areas from international development to corpus semantics, and act as academic lead on the MA in Digital Culture and Communication, and the MA in Cultural Data Management and Communication.
I have been at the University of Sheffield since 2015, working closely with the Digital Humanities Institute throughout that time. From 2011 to 2015, I was a research fellow and teaching teaching fellow at University College London’s Survey of English Usage.
I completed my PhD in English at University College London (UCL), following an MA in English Linguistics at UCL.
I am a member of The Keywords Project, the OED Advisory Forum, and the White Rose Gender Equality College. I am Digital Humanities theme lead for Sheffield in the N8 Centre of Excellence in Computationally Intensive Research. I was a council member of Britain’s oldest learned society, The Philological Society, from 2016 to 2020, and the society’s Honourary Secretary for Student Associate Members from 2012 to 2015.
- Research interests
I am primarily active in two broad areas: corpus semantics and development research.
My 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 multiple meanings often include newly emerging senses, and exhibit increasing vagueness. I also lead on the DHI’s concept modelling work, based on the Linguistic DNA project and subsequent collaborations with the BBC and the Oxford English Dictionary.
My development research relies on community-led co-production with rural community researchers in South Africa. 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.
Recent and ongoing externally funded research projects include:
- 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 Principle Investigator).
- Mapping community heritage with young people in rural South Africa. AHRC GCRF Network Plus Funding. (As Principle Investigator).
- Youth agency, civic engagement, and sustainable development: Ideas for Southern Africa. AHRC GCRF Network Plus Funding. (As Co-Investigator).
I also support the DHI in developing research projects, programmes, and proposals, across a wide range of subjects.
- 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.
- Why Linguists Should Care about Digital Humanities (and Epidemiology). Journal of English Linguistics, 007542422110190-007542422110190.
- 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.
- View this article in WRRO Discursive Quads: New kinds of lexical co-occurrence data with linguistic concept modelling.
- Teaching activities
I am an associate fellow of the Higher Education Academy, and was awarded a Learning and Teaching Fellowship (2016-2017) at the University of Sheffield to develop and convene training for postgraduates and academics in corpus linguistics and text analytics.
I have taught and convened undergraduate and postgraduate modules at the University of Sheffield, UCL, and the University of Winchester, in corpus linguistics, discourse analysis, the history of English, English grammar, and research methods. I developed and convened an English grammar Continuing Professional Development course for school teachers at the UCL Institute of Education. At UCL, I was awarded funding to develop and convene annual widening participation summer schools for secondary school students from backgrounds under-represented in higher education (2012-2013). I began my teaching career teaching English as a Foreign Language in the USA, Cyprus, and the PRC.