Dr Barbara MacMahon

Position: Senior Lecturer in English Language

College: College of Business, Law and Social Sciences

Department: Humanities

Subject area: English

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Senior Lecturer in English Language

Teaching responsibilities

I teach on the BA (Hons) English Literature and Language and English Language (Joint Honours). My teaching specialisms include Literary Linguistics, Pragmatics and Psycholinguistics.

Research interests

My research is in literary linguistics and literary pragmatics. I am currently interested in two main areas of literary language. One is the use of voice in narrative, how we can explain it using a cognitive theory of communication (relevance theory), and how it is related to non-literary modes of communication.

The other area is sound-patterning in poetry and poetic language. I am interested in how sound-patterning contributes to the effects of a poem, and how we process it as readers. I use psycholinguistic models of lexical access alongside relevance theory to explore these questions.


  • BA (Hons) English Studies
  • MLitt Literary Linguistics
  • PhD Literary Linguistics

Recent publications

  • 2014 'Relevance Theory, Syntax and Literary Narrative' in Chapman, S. and Clark, B. (eds.) Pragmatic Literary Stylistics. Palgrave
  • 2013 with Lisa Hopkins '"Come, what a siege?": Metarepresentation in Lady Jane Cavendish and Lady Elizabeth Brackley's The Concealed Fancies', Early Modern Literary Studies Vol 16 (3)
  • 2012 'How Literature Communicates: a Cognitive Pragmatic Perspective', in Daiber, J, Konrad, E-M, Petraschka, T. and Rott, H eds Understanding Fiction: Knowledge and Meaning in Literature. Munster: Mentis
  • 2009 'Metarepresentation and Decoupling in Northanger Abbey: Part 2', English Studies, 90: 6 (673-694)
  • 2009 'Metarepresentatio and Decoupling in Northanger Abbey: Part 1', English Studies, 90: 5 (518-544)
  • 2007 'The Effects of Sound Patterning in Poetry: a Cognitive Pragmatic Approach.' Journal of Literary Semantics, 36 (103-120).

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