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Elena Semino supervises 11 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

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

Visiting Professor in the Faculty of Foreign Languages at Fuzhou University, China.

Fellow of the RSA and the Academy of Social Sciences.

Associate Editor of the journal Metaphor and Symbol.

Former Head of the Department of Linguistics and English Language at Lancaster: 2011-14 and 2015-18.

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.

I am Principal Investigator on the ESRC-funded project: 'Questioning Vaccination Discourse: A Corpus-based Study' (Quo VaDis).  

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