I work mainly on digital humanities and the study of meaning in English, with a focus on lexicology, semantics, and stylistics through the application of cognitive and corpus linguistics.
My research interests primarily centre around the digital and cognitive analysis of language using the Historical Thesaurus of English, and I am the third Director of the Thesaurus, following Professor Michael Samuels and Professor Christian Kay. I am also Principal Investigator of the collaborative AHRC/ESRC-funded SAMUELS project (Semantic Annotation and Markup for Enhancing Lexical Searches, 2014-15) project, which uses Thesaurus data to annotate words in text with their disambiguated meanings in order to open up new ways of digitally analysing language. I have been part of the Thesaurus team for the past nine years, helping to produce the 2009 Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary and carrying out research on its database, either individually or with Christian Kay. I created the Hansard Corpus 1803-2003, which is being enhanced as part of the SAMUELS project.
I am also Director of STELLA, which is the UK's only dedicated computer laboratory for teaching English studies and a key site of pioneering work in computer-assisted learning and experimental digital research in language and literature for the past 25 years. I have been an international fellow of the Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies in Monticello, Virginia, and am a co-investigator on the three-year AHRC-funded Mapping Metaphor with the Historical Thesaurus project (2012-2015, Principal Investigator Dr Wendy Anderson). In addition, I have also been part of the JISC-funded Enroller (2009-2011) and Parliamentary Discourse (2011-2012) interdisciplinary digital humanities projects (the former as part of HATII, both projects in conjunction with the Glasgow National eScience Centre and under the leadership of the previous STELLA Director Jean Anderson). Finally, I have also been part of psycholinguistic research related to linguistic persuasion and the nature of narrative reading as a collaborator with the AHRC-funded Stylistics, Text Analysis and Cognitive Science project (2002-2009, Directors Dr Catherine Emmott and Professor Anthony J. Sanford).
Beyond these projects, my current research interests centre around semantics in the digital humanities, and in particular the computational analysis of meaning in legal, political and scientific contexts. When not working on the above, I am presently developing an analysis of political and legal issues of interpretation in the UK Hansard (1803-2003), a study of the expression of power in the history of English, and the semantic interpretation of statute law.