Dr Seth Mehl

School of English


Seth Mehl leaning against a wall
+44 114 222 6115

Full contact details

Dr Seth Mehl
School of English
Humanities Research Institute
Upper Hanover Street
S3 7QY

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: 

I also support the DHI in developing research projects, programmes, and proposals, across a wide range of subjects.



  • Project TK, MacCabe C & Yanacek H (2018) Keywords for Today A 21st Century Vocabulary. Oxford University Press. RIS download Bibtex download

Journal articles


  • Mehl S (2019) 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. View this article in WRRO RIS download Bibtex download
  • Mehl SW, Aarts B & Wallis S (2016) 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 RIS download Bibtex download
  • Fitzmaurice S, Robinson JA, Alexander M, Hine IC, Mehl S & Dallachy F () Reading into the past, Advances in Historical Sociolinguistics (pp. 53-82). John Benjamins Publishing Company RIS download Bibtex download

Book reviews

Website content

  • Mehl S Investigating the linguistic DNA of life, body, and soul. RIS download Bibtex download

Working papers

Teaching activities

I contribute to the MA in Digital Culture and Communication, and the MA in Cultural Data Management and Communication, and convene the module Language Analysis, AI, and Culturomics.

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.