My research and teaching interests cover a broad range of language and linguistics-related topics. My interests are all connected in some way with linguistic meaning (linguistic semantics and pragmatics), usually within the framework of relevance theory. I have a particular interest in how meanings are created and negotiated in specific contexts and in applying work on this in accounting for the production, interpretation and evaluation of texts (i.e. in stylistics).
You can find more information, including a fuller list of talks and publications, and some downloadables, at my personal website:
I currently teach a range of courses in English Language at BA, MA, MPhil and PhD level. My key teaching interests include: language and linguistics, language and psychology, language in media discourse, linguistic meaning (semantics and pragmatics), meaning in context, media meanings, research methods, stylistics, writing.
I am Programme Leader for BA English Language & Media, which provides students with the opportunity to explore how language is used and gives rise to effects in a range of media contexts, and to consider how insights from the study of language and linguistics can help to contribute to particular analyses and debates in media communication.
I also work with students at school in delivering workshops and other activities, including a course on linguistics for A level students which I have taught with Dr. Graeme Trousdale (University of Edinburgh) every year since 2007. I have contributed several articles to 'Emagazine', a publication for A level English students.
My textbook, Relevance Theory, was published by Cambridge University Press in 2013.
Here are some of my key areas of research interest: linguistic semantics, linguistic pragmatics, literary linguistics, prosodic meaning, pragmatic stylistics, pragmatics and writing, experimental pragmatics. I'd be very happy to hear from potential doctoral students working in any of these or related areas.
I am currently supervising research students working on the interpretation of irony in a second language, experimental syntactic investigations of explicit grammar teaching, metaphor in the mind and body, and the persuasive use of metaphor in written discourse.
My own current research is in three areas: pragmatic stylistics, prosodic meaning and the inferential processes involved in writing.My work on pragmatic stylistics explores how relevance theory can be applied in accounting for the inferential processes of readers, writers and editors, and in accounting for literary interpretation and evaluation. I have begun working with colleagues in other universities to compare and contrast relevance-theoretic with other 'post-Gricean' and 'neo-Gricean' approaches. My work on prosodic meaning has developed specific proposals for meanings of nuclear tones in English within a relevance-theoretic framework. I am now involved in a collaborative project to explore the nature of prosodic meaning more fully, to explore affective dimensions of prosodic meaning, and to explore connections with musical interpretation. With Dr. Nicola Owtram (European University Institute, Florence), I have begun to develop a fuller account of inferential processes involved in writing, and to apply this in teaching. I coordinate a PALA (Poetics and Linguistics Association) Special Interest Group on Pragmatic Stylistics and have organised a number of international workshops on this topic. I am a member of the editorial board of the journal English Language & Linguistics, published by Cambridge University Press.
Retention and Progression in Lang-Lit BA Programmes, 2012-2013. Commissioned report in collaboration with Dr. Andrea Macrae (Oxford Brookes University). Building on the below project, we have been commissioned by the Higher Education Academy to carry out research and write a report on matters affecting the retention and progression of students taking 'lang-lit' programmes at university. Amount awarded: £2,000
'Lang-Lit' from 'A' to 'BA': Integrating language and literature at school and at university, 2011-2012. In collaboration with Dr. Andrea Macrae (Oxford Brookes University). This funding supported a workshop at Middlesex in July 2012 and a subsequent report. investigated the relationship between 'Lang/Lit' work at school and in higher education, and the transition between the two. Amount awarded: £1,500
National Student Survey Project, 2010-2011. Higher Education Academy Subject Centre for Languages, Linguistics and Area Studies research project investigating staff and student assumptions about the National Student Survey. Middlesex University was one of ten institutions to take part in this project. Amount awarded: £1000
I am involved in a number of activities as well as my Middlesex teaching and research and the usual range of academic activities including BA and MA programme development, chairing and acting as a panel member for validation and review events, appraisal and mentoring.
I have been external examiner and assessor for validations and reviews at many institutions and have been a member of several external committees, including work with the Higher Education Academy, the Linguistics Subject Centre and the Quality Assurance Agency. I am a member of a Subject Centre Special Interest Group on Language and Linguistics at School, and the UK Linguistics Olympiad committee. With Dr. Graeme Trousdale (University of Edinburgh) I have taught a residential course on Linguistics ('How To Be A Language Detective') for Gifted and Talented A Level students every year since 2007. This takes place at Villiers Park, the home of the Villiers Park Educational Trust. In 2012, we also offered a course on language meaning and change for English Language students. I was a Senior Teaching Fellow in Pragmatics at University College London in 2009-2010. I have been a consultant to the team developing new A level specifications for the awarding body AQA.
I am Director of The Lecture List, a free service listing public talks which I helped to set up with funding from NESTA (the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts) in 2002.
You can find more information at my personal website: