From Sept 2014- August 2017 I had a Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship to pursue the project 'Epiphanies in literature: a psychological and literary linguistic account'. I studied a family of experiences which includes the sublime, literary epiphanies, mystical experience, peak experience, ecstasy, awe, etc. My current approach is to treat these all as responses to a perception of discrepancy. This partially explains the epistemic feelings which arise - feeling of learning, feeling of significance and feeling of ineffability; and it explains the emotions, as 'surprise emotions'. I am currently writing the book which summarizes this research.
I also continue to work on poetic form, and the setting of poetry to music in songs. I gave a keynote talk on rhyme in Helsinki in May 2019. I am working with Myfany Turpin (Sydney) on Australian Aboriginal songs, on which I will be giving a talk (with Warwick Edwards) at Glasgow University Department of Music in October 2019.
My tenth book was What is Poetry: Language and Memory in the Poems of the World (Cambridge 2015); the book argues that the added forms of poetry such as metre, rhyme, alliteration and parallelism depend on the division of a text into sections short enough to be held in working memory. My book with Morris Halle, Meter in Poetry: a New Theory (Cambridge 2008), argues that counting is the basis of all metrical poetry, and rhythm is derived from the counting mechanism. My book Language and literary structure: the linguistic analysis of form in verse and narrative (Cambridge 2002) argues that form can hold of a literary text by inference.
PhD in linguistics from MIT (1984) supervised by Noam Chomsky. Edited Journal of Linguistics (1997-2014). Head of department (2002-5). Acting dean during the first two months of the new Faculty in 2010. Vice-dean for research (2010-13). Harkness Fellow (1980-82). Leverhulme Fellow (2014-17). An editor of the Literary Universals Project.
I teach four undergraduate classes: the first year English class (spring); language in business and organizations; songs and literature; international influences on literature in English. I teach one postgraduate class on 'intercultural communication' as part of the MSc in TESOL and intercultural communication.
I welcome PhD students in literature, literary linguistics, and psychology of literature.