Dr Seth Mehl

School of English

Senior Lecturer in Digital Humanities

Seth Mehl leaning against a wall
Profile picture of 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 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: 



  • 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 & Wallis S (2022) 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 RIS download Bibtex download
  • (2021) Cognitive Sociolinguistics Revisited In Kristiansen G, Franco K, De Pascale S, Rosseel L & Zhang W (Ed.) De Gruyter RIS download Bibtex download
  • 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 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.