Michelle Sheehan

Reader in Linguistics, Anglia Ruskin University

Michelle has been at ARU since August 2015, being promoted to Reader in 2017. Before that, she worked as a researcher at the Universities of Newcastle, Durham and Cambridge on a variety of collaborative projects.

She is interested in the structure of language (syntactic theory), how languages vary and how we can model this variation (typology, comparative syntax) and how structure and meaning interact (syntax/semantics interface). She has a particular interest in languages descended from Latin (Romance languages), especially Spanish and Portuguese varieties and in the study of language universals from a variety of perspectives.

Michelle also leads the project Linguistics in Modern Foreign Languages (run with colleagues at Birmingham, Bristol, Cambridge and Queen Mary University of London). This project aims to introduce secondary language students to linguistics. So far, the project has run for students of German, French and Spanish A-level, but it will soon be expanded to include heritage languages such as Portuguese and Greek. For more information about the project see linguisticsinmfl.co.uk. For a concise overview of the project’s philosophy see https://www.tes.com/news/teaching-linguistics-improves-language-skills. To keep updated, follow us on twitter @InMfl.

Michelle is currently collaborating with a number of colleagues in the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, and Brazil on issues related to argument structure (ditransitive and causative constructions), case and agreement (experimental and theoretical perspectives) and unexpressed arguments (Control).

Areas of research supervision
Michelle has successfully supervised MA and PhD dissertations in the area of comparative syntax touching on the grammars of English, Chinese, Basque, Georgian, Hungarian, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and its dialects, Polish, Greek and Icelandic. She would be very interested in supervising projects focused partly or wholly on the syntax of any language (including heritage varieties), particularly from a comparative perspective. She also currently supervises a PhD student working on heritage French in the UK and would also be interested in supervising other projects focused on community/heritage languages and/or the teaching of languages in UK schools.

Teaching
Michelle teaches on a range of undergraduate modules related to linguistics, for example Revealing English Structure, Structure of English: past and present and Languages in Contrast. She also teaches on a final-year Special Topic module on constructed languages and runs a museums-based module for which students create their own language-based exhibition (https://newroutesoldroots.com/2018/06/01/voices-of-the-fens-2/)

Michelle also teaches on the MA module Second Language Acquisition.

Experience

  • 2015–present
    Reader in Linguistics Course Leader, BA (Hons) English Language , Anglia Ruskin University