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 on Cambridge University Press.

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 both Metaphor and the Social World and the Journal of Religion, Media and Digital Culture. I also 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).

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.



5 September 2017

My new book is now available for pre-order at the Cambridge University Press website.

Book Cover

16 August 2017

Very happy to have received the book cover proofs for my new book. Looks like it will (provisionally) be out in March 2018!