Current research projects

Below is a selection of the wide range of research projects in which our staff and student members are currently involved:


Linguistic DNA: Modelling concepts and semantic change in English 1500–1800

Seth-Y1-Review-570x255A collaboration of researchers at the Universities of Sheffield, Glasgow and Sussex, this project is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and led by Principal Investigator, Prof Susan Fitzmaurice.

The project aims to map the linguistic and conceptual changes which characterise and quite possibly inaugurated modernity. It focuses on the Early Modern period as yielding key concepts that are primary in shaping our understanding of the emergence of modern culture, the nature of historical thought, and conceptual history. Such key concepts are reflected in the emergence, evolution, and sometimes disappearance of social and cultural keywords such as modern, civil, liberty, empiricism, and many more. Susan and the rest of the Linguistic DNA team are using digital methods and resources to analyse more than 28 million pages of printed texts. This massive collection of data represents works printed in English, or in England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales from 1473 to 1800.

You can find out more about the project at the Linguistic DNA website and read a recent news story in Discover magazine here.


Maria_EdgeworthDialect in British Fiction 1800-1836

Dr Jane Hodson’s AHRC-funded project grows out of what appears to be a very simple question: why is dialect speech represented in novels? The project centres around a database which has been designed as a tool for identifying and analysing the representation of dialect in 100 novels published between 1800 and 1836. This period is of interest because it comes after the publication of William Wordsworth’s influential ‘Preface to the Lyrical Ballads’ (1800), which greatly influenced the way in which writers used dialect, but before the publication of the novels of lordroldan00cunngoogVictorian authors such as Charles Dickens and Emily Bronte, who are perhaps the best-known proponents of the use of dialect in novels.

Find out more about Dialect in British Fiction here.