Professor Joanna Gavins
Room 5.06, Jessop West
Internal extension: 20214
email : firstname.lastname@example.org
I came to the University of Sheffield in 2001 to join the literary-linguistics team in the School of English. I am Professor in English Language and Literature and my central research interests are in the relationships between language, literature, and cognition.
I work within the discipline of cognitive poetics, an innovative and interdisciplinary approach to literary study that draws on research from the cognitive sciences to understand the human experience of literary reading. More specifically, I have been involved for the last ten years or so in the development of Text World Theory, a cognitive-linguistic model of human discourse processing, and its application to literary discourse in particular. I am the Director of the Text World Theory Special Collection, housed in the University's Western Bank library, and my monograph on text-worlds, Text World Theory: An Introduction, was published in 2007. For more information about the text-world approach to discourse, please visit the Text World Theory website.
My development of the Text World Theory framework has been facilitated to a great extent through the exploration of challenging experimental literature. Much of my early research focused on the cognitive poetics of Absurdist prose fiction and poetry, culminating in my book, Reading the Absurd (Edinburgh University Press, 2013). My more recent work has centred chiefly around readers’ cognitive experiences of contemporary poetry and I am currently completing a monograph entitled Poetry in the Mind, for publication in 2016.
With my colleague Simon Armitage, I organised the Lyric festival between 2011 and 2014, bringing some of the UK’s most renowned and respected writers, broadcasters and performers to the University, as well as showcasing the talent of Faculty students and staff. Our Lyric festival line-ups included events with Kate Tempest, Tony Harrison, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Carol Ann Duffy, Stuart Maconie and Benjamin Zephaniah. Lyric continues to run community-based activities, such as workshops for talented young writers, each year.
In 2014, I was the Project Manager for the catalytic poetry project, which saw the unveiling of the world’s first catalytic poem on the wall of the Alfred Denny building on Western Bank. ‘In Praise of Air’ is an original work by Simon Armitage and the result of a collaboration with Pro-Vice Chancellor for Science, Professor Tony Ryan. The giant banner on which the poem is printed was manufactured using revolutionary nano-technology. It is coated with a photocatalyst which eats pollution, enabling the poem to clean the air around it as it sits in place, overlooking the busy A57. For more information, please visit the Catalytic Poetry website.
I am a member of the Poetics and Linguistics Association and served as Assistant Editor of the association’s journal, Language and Literature, from 2009 to 2014. I am also Editor of the John Benjamins book series Linguistic Approaches to Literature.
My main undergraduate teaching responsibilities are on the BA in English Language and Literature degree. I teach literary-linguistics at undergraduate level and offer a module in my own area of specialism, cognitive poetics. I also teach undergraduate and postgraduate modules in cognitive linguistics, cognitive poetics, and contemporary poetry.
Within the Faculty of Arts and Humanities more broadly, I am the Faculty Lead for Postgraduate Affairs and I oversee the management of postgraduate matters in the Faculty in this capacity.
I welcome research applications in all areas of literary-linguistics and cognitive poetics, particularly Text World Theory. I am also interested in work on contemporary experimental literature and contemporary poetry.
Articles and Chapters