Stephen Pihlaja
/'stiːvən 'pihlaija/

Hi there, my name is Stephen and I'm an applied linguist, discourse analyst, and stylistician researching and teaching at Newman University in Birmingham (UK). I teach a suite of classes in the English subject group, focusing on the use of linguistic tools to study literature, language, and culture. My first book, Antagonism on YouTube was published by Bloomsbury in 2014 and my second book, Religious Talk Online is forthcoming in 2018 on Cambridge University Press. I've also recently edited special issues of Language and Literature, Metaphor and the Social World and am an editor for the forthcoming Routledge Handbook of English Language Studies. 

My own research focuses on the dynamics of discourse, or language in use, particularly in online interaction around religious issues. I analyse discourse to understand how people present themselves and their beliefs to diverse audiences, and how technology changes not just the presentation of belief, but how and what people believe. To do this, I employ different methods of discourse analysis to investigate metaphor, narrative positioning, categories, and impoliteness in interaction.

I am a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and most recently worked as a Primary Investigator on a Social Innovation Project funded by the Higher Education Funding Council called 'Let's Talk about Sex: equipping student leaders to address sexual violence on campuses'. 

I review articles for a variety of different publications, and serve as membership secretary for the Poetics and Linguistics Association (PALA) and the secretary for the University Council of General and Applied Linguistics (UCGAL). I am a regular member of the Researching and Applying Metaphor Association (RaAM) and the British Association of Applied Linguistics (BAAL).

PhD Publication

27 November 2017

Very happy to see my PhD student, Tayyiba Bruce's first major publication in print. Cite widely!

Bruce, Tayyiba. New technologies, continuing ideologies: Online reader comments as a support for media perspectives of minority religions. Discourse, Context & Media. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dcm.2017.10.001

ESBB 2018 Toyama, Japan

24 November 2017

Happy to announce that I will be giving a plenary talk at the English Scholars Beyond Borders Conference in Toyama Japan in March. My talk is called 'English Language Studies and Academic Writing: Theories, Methods, and Futures'.

Discourse, Context, and Media Article

20 September 2017

The article I wrote with Naomi Thompson from Goldsmith's University is live now on Discourse, Context, and Media. Check it out here:


Youth and Policy Article

11 September 2017

Naomi Thompson and I have a short piece in Youth & Policy this week.