I teach and research in Stylistics and Narrative Analysis at the University of Birmingham where I am Head of the Division of English Language and Applied Linguistics. I am editor of the Journal of Literary Semantics.


Language and the Law:

Pressures on and from English Legal Terms in Global Contexts - Recontextualization of concepts in European legal discourse

The Language Myth and the Law

Legal Statute, Integrational Linguistics and the law of Theft

Bournewood and after: protection of patients lacking mental capacity

Global English and Local Englishes:

Nation Languages, Local Literatures, and International Readers: a New Indigenization in Native English Writers?

Discourse Analysis:

Assessing Written Language - Just more grubby verbal hygiene?

A Simple Schema for Move Analysis

Europe and Identity:

Are Ordinary Britons Developing Narratives of European Identity? - Everyday stories of Brummie folk, and where Europe fits in

Literary Linguistics:

Narrative Progression in the Short Story:First Steps in a Corpus Stylistic Approach

Narrative Coherence - An encyclopaedia article - draft version

The 'Irresponsibility' of FID WORD PDF

Verbal Art: Through Repetition to Immersion

What do poets show and tell linguists? - (Copenhagen Linguistics and Poetics Symposium)

Joke Shop-Names

Reviews and Briefer Stuff:

Review of John Haiman's Talk is Cheap: Sarcasm, Alienation, and the Evolution of Language (New York, OUP, 1998), from Anthropological Linguistics

Review of Lilie Chouliaraki and Norman Fairclough, Discourse in Late Modernity: Rethinking Critical Discourse Analysis (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1999), from Journal of Sociolinguistics.


The Stylistics of Fiction: A Literary-linguistic Approach

  • Routledge (London, New York)
  • ISBN: 0415031680
  • Pub Date: Jan 1990
  • Extent: 339 pages

Through a detailed analysis of one William Faulkner text, this book considers whether style is a linguistic topic or a topic in the literary criticism and appreciation of a text. This book should be of interest to students and lecturers of literary criticism, literary theory, linguistics and pragmatics.

The Stylistics of Fiction: Literary-linguistic Approach is published by Routledge

Narrative Progression in the Short Story: A corpus stylistic approach

  • Linguistic Approaches to Literature 6
  • John Benjamins Publishing Company
  • ISBN: 9789027233387
  • Pub Date: 2009
  • Extent: 212 pages
  • Also available as an e-book

One of our most valuable capacities is our ability partly to predict what will come next in a text. But linguistic understanding of this remains very limited, especially in genres such as the short story where there is a staging of the clash between predictability and unpredictability. This book proposes that a matrix of narrativity-furthering textual features is crucial to the reader's forming of expectations about how a literary story will continue to its close. Toolan uses corpus linguistic software and methods, and stylistic and narratological theory, in the course of delineating the matrix of eight parameters that he sees as crucial to creating narrative progression and expectation. The book will be of interest to stylisticians, narratologists, corpus linguists, and short story scholars.

Narrative Progression in the Short Story is published by John Benjamins

Language Teaching: Integrational Linguistic Approaches

  • Routledge Studies in Linguistics
  • ISBN: 0415957532
  • Pub Date: December 2008
  • Extent: 176 pages

Language Teaching demonstrates the relevance of an integrational linguistic perspective to a practical, real-world need, namely the learning of languages. Integrational linguistics' shunning of both realist and structuralist theories of language, its commitment to an unwavering attention to the perspective of the language user, and its adherence to a semiology in which signs are the situated products of interactants interpretive behaviour, mean that it radically reconceptualizes language learning and language teaching.

Detractors have implied that IL is so 'philosophical' or 'theoretical' an exercise that it has no useful bearing on the practical problems of language learning. These papers refute that misconception. They do so by demonstrating how an IL stance can help disentangle the conflicting considerations and contradictory assumptions that arise in a host of language teaching situations: first, second- and foreign-language classrooms in a diversity of settings (including India, Australia, the United States, and Hong Kong), with different age-groups of students, whether the focus is on speech or writing, and in more informal settings also.

Language Teaching is published by Routledge

Critical Discourse Analysis: Critical Concepts in Linguistics

  • Routledge Critical Concepts in Linguistics Series
  • ISBN: 0415189926
  • Pub Date: May 2002
  • Extent: 1600 pages - (Dimensions 234x156 mm)

Over the last decade, Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) has accrued an exceptional amount of attention across a wide number of academic disciplines within the humanities and social sciences.

In almost every field of human activity, we are surrounded by and caught up in a network of texts and discourses. At the same time, a gradual enfranchising of individuals in Western societies tends to make us less inclined to accept those surrounding texts and discourses unquestioningly. It is these twin factors that underpin all studies that appear under the aegis of CDA.

This unique, multidisciplinary collection gathers together the most influential writings adopting a CDA approach, along with the most important antecedent essays and articles from the earlier Twentieth Century. The articles that make up this collection are drawn from a wide range of journal sources, including articles critical of the Critical Discourse Analysis approach as well as those that illustrate applications of its principles and methods. A detailed index and new introduction will help the reader navigate this wealth of diverse material.

Critical Discourse Analysis was published by Routledge in 2002: link

Narrative: A Critical Linguistic Introduction

  • 2nd, substantially revised edition, Routledge 2001
  • ISBN: 0415231752
  • Pub Date: July 2001
  • Extent: 272 pages - (Dimensions 234x156 mm)

Narrative explores a range of written, spoken, literary and non-literary narratives. It shows what systematic attention to language can reveal about the narratives themselves, their tellers, and those to whom they are addressed. Topics examined include plot structure, time manipulations, point of view, oral narratives and children's stories. This classic text has been substantially rewritten to incorporate recent developments in theory and new technologies, and to make it more usable as a course book.

New materials include sections on film, surprise and suspense, and online news stories. The section on children's narratives has been updated, and the discussion of newspaper stories incorporates contemporary examples. There are new exercises which relate closely to the chapter content and new sections on further reading.

Narrative was published by Routledge in 2001: link

Language in Literature: An Introduction to Stylistics

  • Published January 1998
  • ISBN: 034066214X and (hardback) 0340662131
  • Extent: (paperback) 264 pages

How does language work? And how does the language in literature create its effects? How can you tell good writing - the excellent, the brilliant, and the ingenious - from bad writing - the weak, the banal, and the confusing?

Looking at the technique or craft of writing, Language in Literature examines the way in which language is organized to create literary effect and meaning. An activity-based introduction to literary stylistics, this book explains some of the core topics in literary linguistics and assists students in literary analysis. Focussing on poems, short stories, extracts from novels, advertisements and children's writing, it tries to understand and explain texts in linguistic terms.

Covering a range of topics - patterns of texture and representation, modality and evaluation, the structure of simple narratives, the recording of character speech and thought, the dynamics of dialogue, presupposition and textual revision - this introduction will be particularly useful to undergraduate students of English. Activities and end-of-chapter commentaries encourage a 'learning by doing' approach and equip the reader with the main linguistic terms necessary for the application of grammar in literary studies.

Language in Literature was published by Hodder Arnold in 1998: link

Total Speech: An Integrational Linguistic Approach to Language

  • Published September 1996
  • ISBN: 0822317907
  • Extent: (paperback) 376 pages

Units, rules, codes, systems: this is how most linguists study language. Integrationalists such as Michael Toolan, however, focus instead on how language functions in seamless tandem with the rest of human activity. In Total Speech, Toolan provides a clear and comprehensive account of integrationalism, a major new theory of language that declines to accept that text and context, language and world, are distinct and stable categories. At the same time, Toolan extends the integrationalist argument and calls for a radical change in contemporary theorizing about language and communication.

In every foundational area of linguistics - from literal meaning and metaphor to the nature of repetition to the status of linguistic rules - Toolan advances criticisms of received linguistic assumptions. Drawing inspiration from the writings of language theorist Roy Harris, he argues that the embeddedness of language and the situation-sensitive mutability of meaning reveal language as a tool for refashioning and renewal.

Total Speech was published by Duke University Press in 1996: link

The Writer's Craft, the Culture's Technology

Edited (with Introduction) by Carmen Rosa Caldas-Coulthard and Michael Toolan

All fifteen papers collected in this volume, from an international array of experts in literary stylistics, explore the multiple ways in which a culture's technological affordances shape its literary productions. Many of the papers focus on contemporary culture, where literature vies for attention with film, the internet, and other multimodal cultural forms. This catholic range of discussions is stylistics-based but not stylistics-bound, and should be of interest to all who are interested in discourse analytic commentaries on how technological horizons, as always, continue to shape the forms and functions of literature and other cultural productions.

The Writer's Craft, the Culture's Technology is the first title in a new series of papers taken from conferences of the Poetics and Linguistics Association's annual conferences (General Editor: Donald C. Freeman)

The Writer's Craft, the Culture's Technology is published by Rodopi (Amsterdam and New York), 2005.