Dr Mel Evans

Dr Mel Evans


I joined the University of Leeds in October 2021, becoming part of the School of English as a Lecturer in English Language (with Digital). I previously held lectureships at the University of Leicester and the University of Birmingham, before which I studied for my PhD in English Language and Linguistics at the University of Sheffield (awarded 2011).


  • Module Lead

Research interests

My PhD thesis investigated the role of the individual speaker in processes of language change using a sociolinguistic framework, focussing on Queen Elizabeth I as a case study. Using corpus-based methods, the project initiated a career-long interest in the language of the individual, the relationship between linguistic variation and identity, the intersection of language with other semiotic resources (image, sound, gesture) and the early modern period, particularly historical correspondence and royal discourse and communication practices. My subsequent research has continued to explore one or more of these themes and areas.

My current research projects include:

Editing Aphra Behn in the Digital Age (2016–2022)

I am co-investigator on an AHRC-funded project which will produce a new edition of the works of Aphra Behn, a seventeenth century dramatist and poet, and one of the first English women to write professionally. The project is led by Prof. Elaine Hobby at Loughborough University. As well as being a General Editor for the edition, I am conducting stylistic and computational stylistic investigations of Behn’s writings and those of her contemporaries, in order to provide new insights into the linguistic creativity of literary writing in the seventeenth century. The findings will inform the edition’s stance towards Behn’s authorship of some traditionally dubious or circumspect texts, and the methods and approaches developed will contribute to the wider field of non-traditional authorship attribution. I am also editing Behn’s correspondence for Volume VIII of the edition, and run the project website.

In Our Name: pragmatics, materiality and ideologies of power and nation in the correspondence of James V and Henry VIII, 1513–1542

I am principal investigator on this British Academy/Leverhulme Small Research Grant (September 2021–May 2023). For Scotland and England, royal correspondence has shaped the political and social lives of both nations as much as any battlefield. Letters were the primary means of diplomacy, information exchange, and signaling the sovereign’s royal authority. This project examines the vernacular letters (between 1513–42) of James V and Henry VIII, taking a new perspective on their ideological import: it considers how such letters were written, and the ways these choices represent royal power and shape national views of kingship. By analysing the use of Scots and English, the ways in which the royals refer to themselves and to their recipients, how they express their intentions and commands, and the properties of the paper, the handwriting, and the signature, we explore how the discourses of a King of Scotland or England can be differentiated, and how their choices relate to the changing social and political conflicts of their time.

Other Interests

An ongoing research interest lies in the relationship between technology and communication, and how studying practices of the past can improve our appreciation of present-day digital and social media interaction. With Caroline Tagg (Open University) we have been developing a transhistorical framework (see our edited collection Message and Medium, De Gruyter Mouton, 2020). Our current work explores the intersection between the linguistic practices of activism and technology in the past and present, with a pilot project exploring vegan/vegetarian discourses.

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://ahc.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • PhD English Language and Linguistics
  • MA English Language and Literature
  • BA English Language and Literature

Professional memberships

  • Media Coordinator for the British Association of Applied Linguistics
  • Corpus Linguistics Special Interest Group (BAAL)
  • Society for the Study of Early Modern Women

Student education

I currently contribute to various English Language undergraduate modules in the School of English.

Research groups and institutes

  • Language at Leeds
  • Language and Society

Current postgraduate researchers

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>