Professor Joanna Gavins
Room 5.06, Jessop West
Internal extension: 20214
email : email@example.com
I am a Professor of English Language and Literature and have worked at the University of Sheffield since 2000. My central research interests are in the relationships between language, literature, and cognition, and I teach courses in stylistics, cognitive linguistics, and cognitive poetics. I am the author of Reading the Absurd (EUP, 2013); Text World Theory: An Introduction (EUP, 2007); co-editor (with Ernestine Lahey) of World Building: Discourse in the Mind (Bloomsbury, 2016); and co-editor (with Gerard Steen) of Cognitive Poetics in Practice (Routledge, 2003). I am Editor of the John Benjamins book series Linguistic Approaches to Literature and Director of the Text World Theory Special Collection at the University of Sheffield.
My research centres around the cognition of linguistic style in both literary and non-literary discourse. My work is interdisciplinary in nature and draws upon knowledge from the cognitive sciences in order to understand how human beings conceptualise and experience language.
Throughout my academic career, I have been principally focused on 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. I also co-edited a collection of leading-edge research on text-worlds, World Building: Discourse in the Mind, with Ernestine Lahey in 2016. For more information about the text-world approach to discourse, including its use in secondary school English education, please visit the Text World Theory website.
My development of the Text World Theory framework over the last two decades has been facilitated to a great extent through the exploration of challenging experimental literature. Much of my early research looked at the cognition of Absurdist prose fiction and poetry, culminating in my 2013 book, Reading the Absurd. My more recent work on literary style has centred chiefly around the cognitive experience of reading contemporary poetry and I am currently completing a monograph for Edinburgh University Press entitled Poetry in the Mind: The Cognition of Contemporary Poetic Style.
I am also currently running a research project with my colleague, Dr Sara Whiteley, on Linguistic Creativity in the Discourse of National Trust Holiday Cottage Guestbooks. The project is funded by the British Academy and the Leverhulme Trust and examines the language used by visitors to The National Trust’s holiday rental cottages in the guestbooks situated in each property. It examines the highly creative discourse used in guestbooks, which provides a unique, permanent insight into otherwise transitory thoughts and interactions.
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 stylistics and cognitive linguistics at undergraduate level and also offer a Level Three module on my own specialist area of research, Text World Theory. At postgraduate level, I teach modules on stylistics and cognitive poetics
I welcome applications from potential PhD students in all areas of stylistics, cognitive linguistics, and cognitive poetics, particularly Text World Theory.
I am currently supervising PhD projects on the text-worlds of pre-school children’s storytime; the cognition of comic book narratives of mental health; liminal and uncanny text-worlds in contemporary poetry; and the style of Margaret Atwood’s autobiographical writings.
My previous PhD students have included:
• Dr Jessica Norledge (2016) Reading the Dystopian Short Story
• Dr Isabelle van der Bom (2015) Text World Theory and Stories of Self: A Cognitive Discursive Approach to Identity
• Dr Helen Mort (2014) ‘Something Else, then Something Else Again’: Neuroscience and Connection-Making in Contemporary Poetry
• Dr Sam Browse (2013) (Mega-)Metaphor in the Text-Worlds of Economic Crisis: Towards a Situated View of Metaphor in Discourse
• Dr Sara Whiteley (2010) Text World Theory and the Emotional Experience of Literary Discourse
• Dr Alison Gibbons (2008) Towards a Multimodal Cognitive Poetics: Three Literary Case Studies
• Dr Alice Bell (2006) The Possible-Worlds of Hypertext Fiction
Articles and Chapters