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Elena Semino supervises 5 postgraduate research students. If these students have produced research profiles, these are listed below:

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Professor Elena Semino


Elena Semino

Lancaster University

County South



Tel: +44 1524 594176

Research overview

My research interests are in health communication, medical humanities, stylistics, and metaphor theory and analysis. In my work I combine qualitative analysis with corpus linguistic methods.

Health communication/medical humanities: representations of autism and mental illness in fictional and non-fictional narratives; metaphor, cancer and the end of life; (figurative) language, creativity and chronic pain; metaphors for Covid-19; discourses around vaccinations. 

Stylistics: cognitive stylistics; corpus stylistics; mind style in fiction.

Metaphor theory and analysis: metaphor in literature, politics, science, health communication, end-of-life care; metaphor and embodied simulation; corpus approaches to the study of metaphor.


PhD supervision

Metaphor in discourse: study of metaphor in literature, politics, science and health communication; corpus-based approaches to the study of metaphor.  Health communication/Medical Humanities: language use in communication about health and illness, including particularly metaphors and narratives. Cognitive stylistics: integration of linguistic analysis with theories of cognition (e.g. Schema theory, Blending theory) in order to study literary texts; the linguistic construction of fictional text worlds; the linguistic construction of minds in fictional and non-fictional narratives.  Corpus stylistics: application of corpus methods to the study of literary texts. 

Current Teaching

LING 102: English Language

LING 210: Stylistics

LING 439: Cognitive Linguistics

LING 450: Stylistics

LING 517: Stylistics

Career Details

I am Director of the ESRC Centre for Corpus Approaches to Social Science.

I hold a Visiting Professorship in the Faculty of Foreign Languages at Fuzhou University in China.

I was Head of the Department of Linguistics and English Language at Lancaster in the periods 2011-14 and 2015-18.

Before joining the Department, I taught Italian as a foreign language at Napier Polytechnic (Edinburgh) and Lancaster University.

Research Interests

I have a long-standing interest in first-person accounts of the experiences of autism and mental illness in fictional and non-fictional narratives. I am involved in a study of mind style in an autobiographical narrative of schizophrenia with Dr Zsófia Demjén (University College London). I am a collaborator on the Language of Voice-hearing project at University College London, and Principal Investigator on the corpus-based interdisciplinary project Narratives of Voice-hearing– a collaboration between the ESRC Centre for Corpus Approaches to Social Science (CASS) and Hearing the Voice at Durham University. Through CASS, I am a member of the International Consortium for Communication in Health Care

I collaborate with Prof Joanna Zakrzewska (Eastman Dental Hospital, London) on a corpus-based study of language and the diagnosis of chronic pain. I am part of the interdisciplinary project Pain: Speaking the Threshold at University College London. 

From 2012 to 2014, I led a team working on Metaphor, Cancer and the End of Life, with funding from the ESRC. I act as advisor on the project Metaphor in Palliative Cancer Care at Linnaeus University (Sweden).

I am a Co-Investigator on the AHRC-funded project Translating Science for Young People and on the ESRC-funded project Linguistic Challenges of the Transition between Primary and Secondary School – both led by Prof Alice Deignan in the School of Education at the University of Leeds.


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