An encounter with language is meaningful. The experience leaves an indelible imprint. Thought is given form. The universe of the mind is disclosed to us. It grants us the power to build new worlds, to share powerful ideas… and to destroy both. I am interested in how this happens and how it came to be this way.
I advocate an interdisciplinary approach to the study of discourse and cognition. Bringing together (Critical) Discourse Analysis, Cognitive Linguistics, and Cognitive Neuroscience, I explore the question of what it means to make meaning. I believe developing this understanding is fundamental to accounting for the human experience. Only by fully understanding ourselves, can we fully understand the challenges in our future.
I propose two interdependent research programmes. The first is the development of a framework to assess the phenomenon of discourse coherence, or how texts and discourses appear to ‘make sense’. With the second, I aim to develop a systematic method for the analysis of text and discourse which identifies correlations between the conceptual properties of language and the underpinning neural substrate. What does our brain do when we encounter text, talk, and discourse? How does it happen? Why is the experience meaningful?
I studied English Language and Linguistics at Lancaster University. I later returned to Lancaster to work towards my PhD in Linguistics (Research Only) under the guidance of Professor Chris Hart, one of the first advocates of a Cognitive Linguistic Approach to (Critical) Discourse Analysis. Here I am a member of the Discourse and Text (DisTex), and the Language, Ideology and Power (LIP) research groups. I am a full member of the UK Cognitive Linguistics Association (UK-CLA) and the Cultural Difference and Social Solidarity Network (CDSS). I am also Editor-in-Chief and co-founder of the journal PRISM.
Teaching is a great privilege. Starting at Liverpool Hope University as an Associate Lecturer in Linguistics, I later moved to the University Centre at Blackburn College (UCBC) where I am a Lecturer in English Language. I am a module convener on both the BA (Hons) English Language and the BSc (Hons) Applied Psychology undergraduate degree programmes, both of which are validated and awarded by Lancaster University. I also actively support and supervise student-led research.
Scholars have a duty to the communities they serve. I believe passionately that knowledge and learning ought to be accessible to all. For this reason, I co-founded the Ragged Alliance in association with the Ragged University. Delivering free talks in the local community, the Ragged Alliance is an initiative designed to promote open access and public debate. I also deliver a free and open public course in critical language awareness each year.