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Dr Susan Mandala

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Associate Professor (Research) in Pragmatic Stylistics

I joined the University in the year 2000 and am now Associate Professor (Research) in the Faculty of Education and Society's School of Education. Working in pragmatic stylistics, I specialise in the linguistic analysis of written English, applying sociolinguistic and pragmatic theories to generate new understandings of a diverse range of texts. Having begun my career in literary stylistics, my early publications were primarily pragmatic stylistic analyses of modern drama and fiction, particularly science fiction and fantasy. My publications from this time include Twentieth Century Drama Dialogue as Ordinary Talk: Speaking Between the Lines (2007, Hampshire, England and Burlington, VT: Ashgate Press), and 'Solidarity and the Scoobies: An Analysis of the -y Suffix in the Television Series Buffy the Vampire Slayer (2007, Language and Literature 16: 1, 53-73) (for more recent work see 'Publications' below).

Since 2015, however, my research interests have turned towards a) the role that linguistics, particularly linguistic textual analysis, can play in the development of educational research and the training of educational researchers; and b) how the linguistic analysis of workplace and professional writing can inform the way such genres are taught, produced, and understood.

Committed to supporting and enabling research more widely, I work across the Faculty in a range of research leadership roles with a particular focus on capacity building. I organise our annual Faculty Staff Research Conference, creating opportunities for staff at all stages of their research journey to develop and present their work; co-convene the School of Education's Reading and Writing Research Group; and mentor staff in diverse aspects of research writing.

Teaching and supervision

I teach research methods and writing for research in a range of contexts across the University in both on-campus and distance learning modes. I am module leader for The Research Process, the core research methods module for our MA TESOL, and supervise a range of MA dissertations in TESOL and applied linguistics.

In addition, I contribute teaching and material to our MA Education, focusing on synthesis skills for literature reviewing, linguistic approaches to discourse, the linguistic and visual analysis of popular culture texts, and qualitative systematic review methods. Enhancing our provision in text-based approaches to research, I developed Doing a Qualitative Systematic Review Study: A 6-Unit Self-Study Guide, a fully independent online course for students interested in conducting qualitative systematic reviews for their MA Dissertations.

At doctoral level, I deliver training to PhD students and Professional Doctorate candidates across the University in research writing, critical thinking, and synthesizing for dissertation literature reviews.

Finding that students and academic authors at all levels of expertise can struggle with the fine art of literature reviewing, I have also started a blog, Literature Reviews: A Blog for the Exasperated.

Research interests for potential research students

I welcome PhD students in pragmatic stylistics and the language of science fiction and fantasy.


My main area of research is the representation of sociolinguistic and pragmatic phenomena in diverse kinds of written texts. My PhD, The Pragmatics of Advice in Natural Talk and Textbook Dialogues (University of Cambridge, 2002), compared discourse and politeness norms in advice-giving interchanges in natural talk and textbook dialogues and I have since gone on to investigate politeness phenomena and sociolinguistic diversity in science fiction, fantasy, crime fiction, and modern drama, forging new pathways to the interpretation of character and social relationships in these texts. My most recent publications in this area are 'Listening' to the Neanderthals in William Golding's The Inheritors: A Sociopragmatic Approach to Fictional Dialogue (2018, Discourse, Context and Media 23: 62-69, Special Issue: Sociolinguistics of Fiction, edited by Anastasia Stamou) and Dramatic Dialogue: Re-Assessing Gus’s Role in Pinter’s The Dumb Waiter, published in Dialogue Across Media (2017, edited by Jarmila Mildorf and Bronwen Thomas).

Since 2015, my research focus has shifted to the role that linguistic approaches, particularly politeness theory and conversation analysis, can play in the development of educational research interested in the analysis of discourse. My current work includes Trustworthiness in Qualitative Research: A Critique of Foucauldian Discourse Analysis in Education Research and a Way Forward, a journal article in progress; and Pragmatic Stylistics, Pop Culture, and British Educational Research, an article in progress for English Text Construction, Special Issue on The Language of (Pop)ular Culture (edited by Montoro, R. and Werner, V.).


Number of items: 9.


Mandala, Susan (2018) 'Listening to the Neanderthals in William Golding’s The Inheritors: A Sociopragmatic Approach to Fictional Dialogue'. Discourse, Context and Media, 23. pp. 62-69. ISSN 2211-6958

Mandala, Susan (2012) Crime Fiction as Regional Fiction: An Analysis of Dialect and Point of View in Sheila Quigley's Bad Moon Rising. Style: A Quarterly Journal of Aesthetics, Poetics, Stylistics, and Literary Criticism, 46 (2). pp. 177-200. ISSN 0039-4238

Book Section

Mandala, Susan (2017) Pragmatic Stylistics and Dramatic Dialogue: Reassessing Gus’s Role in Pinter’s The Dumb Waiter. In: Dialogue Across Media. John Benjamins, pp. 19-36. ISBN 9789027210456

Mandala, Susan (2011) Star Trek: Voyager's Seven of Nine: A Case Study of Language and Character in a Televisual Text. In: Telecinematic Discourse: Approaches to the Language of Films and Television Series. Pragmatics & Beyond New Series (211). John Benjamins, Amsterdam ; Philadelphia, pp. 205-223. ISBN 9789027256157

Mandala, Susan (2008) Representing the Future: Chinese and Codeswitching in 'Firefly'. In: Investigating Firefly and Serenity: science fiction on the frontier. I.B. Tauris, London, pp. 31-40. ISBN 9781845116545


Mandala, Susan (2010) The Question of Style: Language in Science Fiction and Fantasy. Continuum, London. ISBN 9781847063014


Mandala, Susan (2011) Review: The Construction of a Period Dialect: The Language of Arthur Miller's The Crucible and its Sources, by Adrian Pablé. Sage Publications.

Mandala, Susan (2011) Review: Storytelling and Drama: Exploring Narrative Episodes in Plays, by Hugo Bowles. University of Toronto Press.

Mandala, Susan 'Roberta Piazza, The Discourse of Italian Cinema and Beyond: Let Cinema Speak'. Review. SAGE Publications.

This list was generated on Fri Dec 2 15:55:16 2022 GMT.
  • Pragmatic stylistics
  • The representation of pragmatic and sociolinguistic phenomena in written texts
  • The language of science fiction, fantasy, and drama
  • Workplace and professional writing
University memberships
  • Faculty of Education and Society
  • School of Education, Centre for Research in Education (CRE)

External memberships

  • British Educational Research Association (BERA)
  • Poetics and Linguistics Association (PALA)

Last updated 16 November 2022