Dr Mel Evans

Personal details | Publications | Research | Teaching | Supervision

Lecturer in English Language and Linguistics

Department: English

Telephone: +44 (0)116 229 7568

Email: mel.evans@le.ac.uk

Office: Room 1403, Attenborough Tower

Address: School of Arts, University of Leicester, University Road,Leicester, LE1 7RH

Personal details


I studied English Language and Literature at the University of Sheffield. My PhD examined the language of Queen Elizabeth I, using sociolinguistic, stylistic, and corpus linguistic theories and methods. I’m fascinated by interdisciplinary perspectives to language and identity, especially as this relates to power and to gender, and my on-going research explores these themes. My role on the AHRC-funded project, ‘Editing Aphra Behn in the Digital Age’, focuses on establishing the authorship of texts traditionally attributed to Behn using computational stylistic techniques. I am also designing an exhibition of Behn’s spying letters and associated materials, to be held in spring 2020.


  • BA Hons, University of Sheffield
  • MA, University of Sheffield
  • PhD, University of Sheffield
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy



  • Royal Voices: language and power in Tudor England. Cambridge University Press (forthcoming, 2020)
  • The Language of Queen Elizabeth I: a sociolinguistic perspective on royal style and identity (Transactions of the Philological Society Monograph Series 45) (Wiley-Blackwell, 2013)

Journal articles

  • ‘Style and chronology: a stylometric investigation of Aphra Behn’s dramatic style and the dating of The Young King’ Language and Literature (2018)
  • With Dr Alan Bryson, ‘Seven New-Found Letters of Princess Elizabeth’. Historical Research 90.250 (2017)
  • ‘Tudor Women Writing: multimodal style and identity in the English letters and prose of Katherine Parr and Princess Elizabeth’. In VARIENG: The Rhetoric of Character, Face and Identity Construction from Early Modern to Present-Day English (2016)
  • ‘Royal Language and Reported Discourse in Sixteenth Century Correspondence’, Journal of Historical Pragmatics 18.1 (2016)
  • ‘”The vsual speach of the Court”: investigating language change in the Tudor family network (1544-1556)’, Journal of Historical Sociolinguistics 1.2 (2015): 153-188
  • 'A Sociolinguistics of early modern spelling? A case study of Queen Elizabeth I', Tyrkko et al. (eds) Outposts of Historical Linguistics: from the Helsinki corpus to a proliferation of resources. VARIENG 10 (2012)

Book chapters

  • Forthcoming. With Imogen Marcus. ‘‘Right trusty and well-beloved’: the socio-pragmatics of gender, power and stance in sixteenth-century English letters’ In Nevala and Lutzky (eds.) Reference and Identity in Public Discourses Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
  • Forthcoming. “Saying thes woordes or the lyke”: Speech Representation in Sixteenth-Century Correspondence. In Grund and Walker (eds.) Speech Representation in the History of English Oxford: OUP
  • ‘Styling Power: a corpus linguistic approach to the correspondence of Queen Elizabeth I’. In D. Montini and I. Plescia (eds.) Elizabeth I in Writing (Palgrave, 2018)
  • ‘By the queen’: Collaborative authorship in scribal correspondence of Queen Elizabeth I’ in James Daybell and Andrew Gordon (eds.) Women, Letters and the Rhetorics of Gender and Agency in Early Modern Britain, 1540-1690 (Ashgate, 2016)
  • 'Curating Language of the Past: Academic Research and Non-academic Audiences' In Gabriele Griffin and Matthew Hayler (eds.) Research Methods for Digitising and Curating Data in the Digital Humanities (Edinburgh University Press, 2016)
  • ‘From ornament to armament: the epistolary rhetoric of Elizabeth Tudor’ in Anita Auer (ed.) Linguistics and Literary History (John Benjamins, 2016)


My research studies the relationship between identity, particularly gender, and language. Whilst I am interested in this association in all historical periods, my present research focuses on language practices and language change in Early Modern English (1500-1700). I am presently a Co-I, language consultant and a General Editor on the new Cambridge University Press edition of Aphra Behn (led by Professor Elaine Hobby, Loughborough University). My primary responsibility is to conduct computational stylistic analyses to ascertain the likely authorship of works traditionally attributed to Behn, working with Prof. Hugh Craig (University of Newcastle, Australia) and establish a profile of Behn’s literary style in contrast with that of her contemporaries. I am currently editing Behn’s spying letters, written from Antwerp whilst working for the King in 1666, for the final volume of the edition, and planning an exhibition to showcase these letters in summer 2020 at The National Archives. When I am not working on Behn, my research explores the intersection between language and materiality, both in early modern and present-day texts, and the role that technology plays in shaping how we communicate. My interest is in how linguistic approaches, including corpus linguistic, sociolinguistic and pragmatic frameworks, can provide insight into the role language plays in the configuration and interpretation of individual identities and wider society, and the continuities as well as differences that are evident over time.


I am involved in undergraduate and postgraduate teaching, which aligns closely with my research interests and ongoing projects: in particular, my undergraduate special subject ‘Language, Power and Persuasion’ considers how language is used to manipulate and persuade across a range of genres (conversation, political speeches, advertising). I also co-convene the final-year dissertation module, convene the first-year module ‘History of the English Language’, and contribute to first-year module ‘The Novel’ and our English Language modules, including ‘Studying Language’ and ‘Sociolinguistics’. I am also involved in MA English Studies and MA English Language and Linguistics. For the former, I teach a module on ‘Early Modern English Letter-Writing’, which looks at the theoretical, material and literary properties of correspondence in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. For the MA English Language and Linguistics, I teach the optional module ‘Gender, Language and Discourse’, as well as contributing to ‘Research Methods’ and MA dissertation supervision.


Past PhD topics have included the narrative properties of Malory’s Morte d’Arthur, discourses of power and propaganda in the Wars of the Roses, pronouns and power in Hilary Clinton’s political discourse and the socio-historical discourses surrounding ‘christening’ and ‘baptism’ in the history of English.

I would be interested in supervising PhD and MA research projects in any area relating to language and identity. Enquiries relating to the following topics are especially welcome:

  • Discourse analysis, especially longitudinal and/or historical studies
  • Stylistics, particularly historical explorations, and work investigating and developing computational methods
  • Language and gender, particularly work adopting historical or longitudinal perspectives
  • Sociolinguistics and pragmatics, particularly with a micro-level (language of the individual) focus.
  • Corpus linguistics

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