Alan is Professor of Communication in the School of Law. He applies a background in linguistics and cultural analysis to a range of legal fields and topics, including: how language is used and interpreted in legal processes and institutions; selected topics in media law (e.g. the nature of defamatory statements; advertising standards; threatening or offensive communications); and 'linguistic' questions in intellectual property (e.g. in literary copyright and as regards verbal trademarks).
Before transferring into the School of Law, Alan taught Public Relations for a number of years in the Middlesex University Business School. Previously, he was Professor and Head of the School of English, Cultural and Communication Studies, also at Middlesex (1993-1997). Before joining Middlesex, Alan's posts included Professor and Head of the Department of English at Goldsmiths' College, University of London (1990-1993) and Director of the Programme in Literary Linguistics, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow (1986-1990).
As part of his research, Alan convenes the Keywords Project - an interdisciplinary research project investigating socially problematic 'keywords' used in public discourse and debate. This project, which is funded by Jesus College, University of Cambridge, and the University of Pittsburgh, publishes keyword entries and related articles and materials on its website at http://keywords.pitt.edu/. Alongside research publications in law and a Routledge textbook on law and language, two books, related to the Keywords Project, are in preparation: one updating Raymond Williams' Keywords: A vocabulary of culture and society (1976/1983); the other analysing selected social keywords at greater length.
PhD (Trinity College Cambridge - 1980)
BA (Double First-Class Hons) and Senior Scholar (Trinity College Cambridge - 1976)
Alan currently teaches first-year Legal Method and supervises instructional postgraduate studies in selected areas of media law and intellectual property. He also runs sessions on thesis composition and editing techniques for doctoral students across the School.
In his present and previous posts, he has supervised or co-supervised sixteen successful doctoral completions.
External Examiner (Doctorate degrees)
Complutense University, Madrid (UCM), Spain
University College, London
University of Nottingham
Open University; Edinburgh University
Hong Kong University
University of Lausanne, Switzerland
UNISA, South Africa
University of Kerala, India
External Examiner (undergraduate and Master's programmes)
University of Central Lancashire
Goldsmiths, University of London
University of Bangor
University of Edinburgh
Alan's research interests cut across several fields, typically investigating questions that may be better understood through interdisciplinary, often collaborative research. Problems of meaning and interpretation, and issues associated with the publication and circulation of discourse in different media, are constant themes. Some of his publications are listed below, under two headings: work concerned with linguistic aspects of law; and topics in communication, literature and culture.
Reflecting the scope of his research interests past and present, Alan has lectured, run short programmes and led consultancy projects extensively for the British Council and a number of other organisations in many parts of the world. He was visiting fellow in the School of Language and Information Sciences, Tokyo University in 2000, funded by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science. Alan has served on the editorial board of academic journals including Screen (film and television theory); New Community (the Commission for Racial Equality's former journal of research and policy on ethnic relations); and Economic and Social Intelligence (a journal of research in information technology and policy). He was on the British Council's Literature Advisory Committee (LITAC), 2000-3, and has produced two documentary television programmes for Channel 4 Television (UK).
1. Publications on linguistic approaches to law (since 2008)
'Reading cases in interdisciplinary studies of law and literature', in Marco Wan (ed), The Legal Case: Crosscurrents between Law and the Humanities (Routledge, 2012), pp. 11-28.
(with Jennifer Davis) (2011), 'To protect or not to protect? The eligibility of commercially-used short verbal texts for copyright and trade mark protection', Intellectual Property Quarterly (4)345-70.
Meaning in the Media: Discourse, Controversy and Debate (Cambridge University Press, 2010).
'How does 'substantial similarity of expression' in infringement actions look from a linguistic point of view?', in, Lionel Bently, Jennifer Davis & Jane Ginsberg (eds), Copyright and Piracy: an Interdisciplinary Critique (Cambridge University Press, 2010), pp.147-93.
'How can I tell the trade mark on a piece of gingerbread from all the other marks on it? Naming and meaning in verbal trademark signs', in, Lionel Bently, Jennifer Davis & Jane Ginsberg (eds), Trade Marks and Brands (Cambridge University Press, 2008), pp.107-140.
2. Publications on language, literature and culture
(with Montgomery, Furniss and Mills), Ways of Reading, 4th revised edition (Routledge, 2012).
(with Marina Lambrou), Language and Media (Routledge, 2009).
(with Nigel Fabb), How to Write Essays and Dissertations in Literary Studies. 2nd revised edition (Pearson, 2005).
(edited, with accompanying CD), Thomas Hardy's Tess of the D' Urbervilles, Penguin Classics (Student Edition) (Penguin, 2002).
(with Nigel Fabb), Literary Studies in Action (Routledge, London and NY, 1990). [Chinese edition by World Publishing Corporation, Beijing, 1992.]
(ed, with N.Fabb, D.Attridge and C.MacCabe), The Linguistics of Writing: arguments between language and literature (Manchester University Press, UK; Routledge, USA, 1987). [Translated into Spanish by Carlos Piera, Visor, Madrid, 1990]
Conditions of Music (Macmillan / SUNY Press, 1984).
Ezra Pound, Identity in Crisis: a fundamental reassessment of the poet and his work (Harvester / Barnes and Noble, 1981).
2.2 Selected journal articles and chapters in edited collections (since 2008)
(with Marina Lambrou), 'Media stylistics', in, Peter Stockwell and Sara Whitely (eds), The Cambridge Handbook of Stylistics (Cambridge University Press, in press 2014), pp.505-21.
(With Ifan Shepherd), '"Culture" and "Communication" in Intercultural Communication', in, Ian Mackenzie (ed.), Intercultural Negotiations (Routledge, 2010), pp.13-28. [Earlier version published in European Journal of English Studies, volume 13 number 2 (2009), 147-62.]
'"The significance is in the selection": identifying contemporary keywords', Critical Quarterly 50 nos.1-2 (2008), 122-144
Coordinator, 'Keywords Project'. This projectinvestigates complex words which cause problems in contemporary policy, social analysis and debate, and builds on the approach developed in Raymond Williams' Keywords: a vocabulary of culture and society(1976/1983). The project is scheduled for completion in 2016, and is jointly funded by Jesus College, University of Cambridge, and the University of Pittsburgh. Short keyword entries (1,200-1,500 words each) are posted cumulatively on the project's website http://keywords.pitt.edu/ and provide the basis for longer publications also on the site or in associated print publications. Alan's keyword entries so far include: enterprise, good, information, legitimacy, market, opinion, property, rights, value.
Durant, Alan (2018) A story of rights: from word and conceptualisation to law and cultural narrative. Journal of English Language and Literature (JELL) . ISSN 2368-2132 (Accepted/In press)
Durant, Alan and Leung, Janny (2017) Pragmatics in legal interpretation. In: The Routledge Handbook of Pragmatics. Barron, Anne and Gu, Yueguo and Steen, Gerald , eds. Routledge Handbooks in Applied Linguistics . Routledge, London, pp. 535-549. ISBN 9780415531412
Leung, Janny and Durant, Alan (2017) Meaning and power in the language of law. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. ISBN 9781107112841
Durant, Alan (2015) Harold Berman's: Law and Language [Book review]. International Journal for the Semiotics of Law - Revue internationale de Sémiotique juridique, 28 (2). pp. 427-432. ISSN 0952-8059
Durant, Alan and Davis, Jennifer (2020) Linguistic analysis in trade mark law: current approaches and new challenges. In: A Handbook of Communication in the Legal Sphere. Visconti, Jacqueline , ed. Handbooks of Applied Linguistics [HAL] (14). Walter de Gruyter, Berlin. ISBN 9781614514664 (Accepted/In press)