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 procedures and institutions; selected topics in media law (e.g. the nature of defamatory statements; advertising standards; and threatening or offensive communications); and questions in intellectual property on which further light may be thrown by close linguistic analysis (e.g. in copyright and as regards verbal trademarks).
Before transferring into the School of Law, Alan taught Public Relations for several 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).
Alan has been a Visiting Professor (and is currently Honorary Professor) at the University of Hong Kong, and was Visiting Professor in the School of Language and Information Sciences at the University of Tokyo in 2000, funded by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science.
As part of his research, Alan was for a number of years convener of the Keywords Project: an interdisciplinary research project investigating socially problematic 'keywords' which are contested in public discourse and debate because of their multiple meanings or vagueness. That project, which was funded by Jesus College, University of Cambridge, and the University of Pittsburgh, has published 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 from OUP 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 across his research interests and helps to develop research skills within our LLM.
In his present and previous posts, he has supervised or co-supervised 16 successful doctoral completions. He has also been a doctoral external examiner at a number of UK universities, as well as at the Complutense University, Madrid (UCM); UPM Malaysia; the University of Hong Kong; University of Lausanne; UNISA, South Africa; and the University of Kerala, India. Alan has been an external examiner to undergraduate and Master's programmes at Manchester University, the University of Central Lancashire; Goldsmiths' College, University of London, the University of Bangor, and the 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 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. Selected publications on linguistic approaches to law
(ed. with Janny HC Leung), Meaning and Power in the Language of Law (Cambridge University Press, 2018).
(with Janny HC Leung), ‘Pragmatics in Legal Interpretation’, in Anne Barron, Peter Grundy and Gu Yueguo (eds), The Routledge Handbook of Pragmatics (Routledge, 2017), pp.535-49.
(with Janny HC Leung), Language and Law (Routledge, 2016).
(with Jennifer Davis), ‘“Have a Break” and the changing demands of trade mark registration’, Queen Mary Journal of Intellectual Property (QMJIP, vol 5 number 2), 132-156.
'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 Ginsburg (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 Ginsburg (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
(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.
‘Using literary texts in ELT: retrospect and challenges’, in Manasori Toyota and Shigeo Kikuchi (eds), New Horizons in English Language Teaching: Language, Literature and Education (Kansai Gaidai University Press, 2013), pp.1-35.
(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
‘Raymond Williams’s Keywords: meanings “offered, felt for, tested, confirmed, asserted, qualified, changed”’, Critical Quarterly, 48 no.4 (2006), 1-26.