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Dr Ruth Byrne

Former Research Student

Ruth Byrne


Historians increasingly have access to huge amounts of textual data. My research explores the potential of interdisciplinary methods as means of approaching the ever-growing digital archive.


Click here for a video summary of my research.


My thesis uses corpus linguistics; the machine-assisted analysis of language in very large bodies of text, to examine the language of migration in nineteenth century newspapers. I focus specifically upon representations of 'aliens' and refugees. The research is part of an ESRC Studentship in collaboration with the British Library. Their vast digital collections give us an insight into the shifting language of immigration and refuge in Victorian Britain.


My research was awarded the 2018 Gale Dissertation Research Fellowship by the Research Society of Victorian Periodicals (RSVP).

Affiliated with CASS (Corpus Approaches to the Social Sciences)

My research interests include:


  • corpus linguistics


  • digital humanities


  • migration studies


  • immigration


  • refugees


  • nineteenth century Britain


  • digitisation


  • media history


  • the press


Current Teaching

I currently teach on HIST100 'From the Medieval to the Modern', a first year 'big picture' course.

You can also find me at the FASS Academic Writing Space, where I help students to develop their academic writing and study skills.

  •  Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

Research Grants

ESRC CASE Studentship in Collaboration with the British Library.

Additional Information

Conferences, workshops, and symposiums:  

  • 'The Language of Immigration in the Victorian Press: A Corpus Approach', European Social Science History Conference (ESSHC), Belfast, 2018.
  • ‘Anarchical firebrands and murderers […] in their London Dens’: Testing the limit of British ‘tolerance’, ‘Foreigner’ in Britain Conference, King’s College, London 2017.
  • ‘The Language of Immigration in the Victorian Press: A Historian’s Perspective on Corpus Linguistics’, Invited speaker at the ‘Corpus Research in Linguistics and beyond’ seminar series, King’s College, London 2017.
  • ‘The Language of Immigration in the Victorian Media’, Invited speaker at the ‘Feed the Mind’ public seminar series, British Library, London, 2016.
  • ‘A Corpus Approach to the Discourses of Migration’, Social Science History Association Conference (SSHA), Chicago, 2016.
  • ‘A Historian’s Perspective on Context and Corpora’, IVACS Conference, Bath, 2016.
  • ‘Aliens, Foreigners and Migrants: a corpus approach to attitudes towards immigrant groups using the British Library’s nineteenth century newspaper collection’, Social History Society Conference, Lancaster University, 2016.