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About me

I am Professor in English Language and teach modules on the language of literary texts and the History of English.

I was educated at the University of Leeds (BA Hons English Language and Literature) and King's College, London (MA Literature and Language Before 1525; PhD Historical Semantics). I was AHRB/HEFCE Research Fellow at King's College, London and have taught at the University of Manchester and the University of Central England in Birmingham. I was Co-Investigator on the AHRC-funded five-year project, The Lexis of Cloth and Clothing in Britain c.700-1450: Origins, Identification, Contexts and Change; Principal Investigator on the Leverhulme Trust-funded three-year project The Vocabulary of Medieval Dress and Textiles in Unpublished Sources; Co-Investigator (and later PI) on the Leverhulme-funded three-year project A Bilingual Thesaurus; and Principal Investigator on a one-year AHRC-funded project Lexis of Cloth and Clothing: the medieval Royal Wardrobe accounts

I am currently Principal Investigator on the Leverhulme-funded three-year project Technical language and semantic shift in Middle English.

My research is focused on the vocabulary in use in medieval England. My most recent papers have concerned lexical choices across text types within the multilingual textual culture of medieval Britain.

Teaching

I have taught English language at various universities, particularly in the areas of semantics, the language of literature and language and language and gender. I currently teach modules on the language of literature and the history of English.

At postgraduate level, I am the module leader of the MA module English Language in Literary Contexts, which explores the changing stylistic choices and effects in the history of the English literature and various theoretical approaches for their analysis. I am on the supervisory team for two doctoral researchers in my department, and I am the co-organise of the Doctoral Researchers Development Programme for the faculty.

Research

My research is focused on the vocabulary in use in medieval England, particularly in the Middle English period. Most recently, I have become especially interested in lexical choices within the multilingual context of later medieval Britain and its presence in the administrative writing of the period.

My interest in vocabulary began with my work as a contributor to the Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary and my first book Studies in the Lexical Field of Expectation (1994). I also co-edited the volumes Middle English Word Studies: A Word and Author Index (2000) and Lexis and Texts in Early English: Studies Presented to Professor Jane A Roberts (2001). I am also interested in the stylistics of the romance in Middle English and wrote a monograph examining this, Medieval Romance and the Construction of Heterosexuality 2008).

I was Co-Investigator on the five-year AHRC-funded project The Lexis of Cloth and Clothing in Britain c.700-1450: Origins, Identification, Contexts and Change. This project collected the vocabulary of cloth and clothing across all the languages in use in medieval Britain including Old and Middle English, Cornish, Irish, Norse, Norn and Old Scots, Welsh, as well as Latin and Anglo-French. The website and searchable database may be found at lexisproject.arts.manchester.ac.uk

I was Principal Investigator on the three-year Leverhulme Trust-funded project Medieval Dress and Textile Vocabulary in Unpublished Sources. This project examined manuscripts of the Royal Wardrobe accounts and petitions to king and parliament. These texts were set alongside texts from a variety of genres dealing with clothing and textiles and the resulting anthology, Medieval Dress and Textiles in Britain: A Multilingual Sourcebook, is due out this year.

I was Co-Investigator (later Principal Investigator) on the three-year Leverhulme-funded project A Bilingual Thesaurus. This project is assembling the Middle English and Anglo-French vocabulary of the domains of everyday life in medieval Britain in order to re-examine the question of which domains were most open or resistant to the influence of French in order to further our understanding of the effects of language contact in this period, in particular code-switching in the textual culture of the time. 

I was Principal Investigator on the AHRC-funded project Lexis of Cloth and Clothing: the medieval Royal Wardrobe accounts which sought to enhance the impact of and engagement with the database of the Lexis of Cloth and Clothing project.

I am currently Principal Investigator on the Leverhulme-funded project Technical language and semantic shift in Middle English, looking at the effects of borrowing and other pressures on English at different levels of the semantic hierarchy.

I am a trustee of the charity the Chaucer Heritage Trust.

I would welcome applications from prospective doctoral students interested in any of my research areas.

Publications

For details of all my research outputs, visit my WestminsterResearch profile.