Stephen Pihlaja 
/'stiːvən 'pihlaija/

Hi there, my name is Stephen and I'm an author and academic researching and teaching at Newman University in Birmingham (UK). My work focuses on the dynamics of discourse, or language in use, particularly as it relates to religious identity. 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, and antagonism in interaction.

Currently, I am working on a project called Language and Religion in the Superdiverse City, looking at how people of different faiths interact with one another and work towards shared community goals. I am partnering with Citizens UK Birmingham to apply my research to build organising capacity in South Birmingham. You can follow the updates on the project's Twitter account: @superdivercity 

My first book, Antagonism on YouTube was published by Bloomsbury in 2014 and my second book, Religious Talk Online was published in 2018 with Cambridge University Press. My newest book, Talk about Faith, focuses on the public discussion of religious faith on social media, podcasts, and in debates about religion. I've co-authored a book called Cognitive Linguistics and Religious Language: an Introduction, with colleagues in Japan which provides a primer for working on religious language from a cognitive perspective.

I've also edited Analysing Religious Discourse (2021, CUP), and special issues of Language and Literature and Metaphor and the Social World and co-edited the Routledge Handbook of English Language StudiesMy edited collection Contemporary Media Stylistics with Helen Ringrow came out in 2020 with Bloomsbury. I am Book Reviews Editor for the Journal of Language and Discrimination

PALA Chair

11 Nov 2021

I'm very excited and honoured to say I will be the Chair of the Poetics and Linguistics Association from January 2022. PALA is an international academic association for those who work in stylistics, poetics, and associated fields of language and linguistics. I'm looking forward to supporting an inclusive, international community of language and literature researchers and working with other linguistics associations in the country to keep the study of language and literature a key part of education around the world. 

Book Launch

23 June 2021

Analysing Religious Discourse Book Launch 19 July, 1PM-2PM (BST)

Celebrate the publication of Analysing Religious Discourse! The first edited collection of its kind, the volume introduces contemporary research on religious discourse from a variety of theoretical and methodological perspectives, including ethnography, metaphor, cognition, and many, many more topics. The launch will feature presentations by many of the volume’s contributors.

Address to join:

Read the introduction now at:

And pre-order the book with discount code ARD2021 at: 

Project Launch

10 June 2021

My AHRC-funded Leadership Fellowship has now officially begun. This week includes our first advisory board meeting and one-to-one meetings with leaders in different religious organisations in the city. I've also started a Twitter feed at