Literary Linguistics

The School of English at the University of Sheffield has one of the largest concentrations of researchers in literary linguistics in the world.

Student reading a book

Five full-time permanent members of staff currently dedicate themselves to research at the interface of language and literature. One of the key strengths of such a sizeable team is the diversity of subjects and approaches we cover, from cognitive poetics to the history of literary and linguistic thought, from dialect representation to empirical stylistics.

Our research interests are brought together by our shared focus on style of all kinds - narrative, dramatic, filmic, discursive and poetic. Our team also share common concerns with practical public engagement and members of the literary-linguistics cluster are involved in a range of community-based research activities, involving work with local reading groups, art galleries, museums, schools and arts organisations.

Our vibrant research environment is further nurtured and sustained by the international conferences, workshops and symposia we regularly participate in and host:

  • We've previously organised the annual conference of the Poetics and Linguistics Association
  • Our Dialect in Literature conference built on the successes of our AHRC-funded Dialect in British Fiction project
  • The Art/Text Symposium brought together artists and academics to look at the role of language in visual arts practice

Postgraduate teaching and research

The University of Sheffield has one of the largest concentrations of researchers in literary linguistics in the world, with expertise ranging from cognitive poetics to the history of literary and linguistic thought, and from dialect representation to empirical stylistics.

The School of English has a lively and supportive postgraduate research environment and our literary linguistics students occupy a central position within this community. They benefit greatly from close working relationships with staff and students within their own research specialism, as well as from their interactions with other subject areas within the School.

If you are interested in starting or developing an interest in literary linguistics or stylistics at postgraduate level, we offer two taught MA modules allowing you to explore the combination of language and literature:

  • EGH421: Style in Literature and Discourse: Tools and Techniques

  • EGH422: Style in Literature and Discourse: Approaches to Research

These interdisciplinary modules are open to students on any of our MA programmes, and are a core component of students' literary and linguistics training on the Literary Linguistics pathway of our MA English Literature programme, allowing them to integrate literary and linguistic work on a sophisticated level.

EGH421 and EGH422 are a great combination of modules to add a more specialised fourth year to your studies or to prepare yourself for a research degree on a topic within the field of stylistics. EGH421 introduces you to a range of core topics but extends well beyond what you are likely to have covered at undergraduate level. EGH422 looks at advanced topics in stylistics with a focus on the most recent research in the field.

For students on the MA English Literature and MA Language and Linguistics programmes, taking both of these modules would allow you to write a dissertation with a focus on stylistics supervised by one of our literary linguistics team, which you can find listed below.

Several of our MA modules also provide students with the opportunity to get involved in a range of civic engagement activities and include practical empirical, creative and work experience elements.

Recent and current PhD topics include:

  • The representation of dialect in South Yorkshire literature
  • The history of linguistic transcription
  • Multimodal cognitive poetics
  • Thou and thee in 18th-century drama
  • The representation of perception in the novels of Jane Austen
  • Metaphors of the economic crisis
  • Invented languages in fictional texts
  • Cognitive poetics and graphic narrative
  • The translation of satire into Arabic

Further information about the staff researching in the area of literary linguistics can be found on our individual web pages: