Mary Talbot

A regular attender since the group's early days, Mary is a lecturer who has written extensively on language-related topics for academic books and journals, and occasionally on fiction. Her book on language in fiction contains chapters on romance, horror and feminist science fiction. The book as a whole sets out to show how fiction works in the constitution and reproduction of social life (hence its title: Fictions at Work). She's not reducing fiction to some sort of tedious transmitter of ideology, though, and believes that the most interesting thing about it why it's so enjoyable. The book doesn't just examine works of fiction themselves; it also discusses what people do with them and how they are valued (or have scorn heaped on them, as the case may be).

Mary has worked at quite a few different places over the years, including the University of Wales at Bangor, Odense University in Denmark, and in England, at the University of Liverpool, Lancaster University and Chester College. In January '96, she became a research fellow in the Media Arts Faculty at the Southampton Institute. Her research interests are interdisciplinary, centring on the importance of language in understanding social processes. She has a particular interest in feminist linguistics and is currently writing an introduction to studying language and gender for Polity Press.

She was born in Wigan in 1954, and educated at Preston Polytechnic (BA Humanities, 1982) and Lancaster University (PhD Social Sciences, 1990).

Fiction - and media-related publications:

  • 1992 - The construction of gender in a teenage magazine. In Fairclough N L (ed.) - Critical language awareness - Longman pp174-99
  • 1995 - Fictions at Work: Language and Social Practice in Fiction - Longman
  • 1995 - ''It felt good to kill': Schoolboy Dreams in the Novels of James Herbert'. - Foundation: The Review of Science Fiction - 62: 47-63
  • 1995 - A synthetic sisterhood: False friends in a teenage magazine (revised and expanded version). In Hall K, Bucholtz M (eds.) - Gender articulated: language and the socially constructed self - Routledge pp143-65
  • 1995 - The construction of masculinity in a British tabloid. In Nordlyd (Troms Working Papers)
  • 1996 - (with Val Gough) 'Guilt over games boys play': Coherence as a focus for examining the constitution of heterosexual subjectivity on a problem page. In Caldas-Coulthard C R, Coulthard M (eds.) - Texts and practices: Readings in critical discourse analysis - Routledge pp214-30
  • 1996 - Randy fish boss branded a stinker: Coherence and the construction of masculinities on Page 3. In Johnson S, Meinhof U (eds.) - Language and masculinity - Blackwell
  • An explosion deep inside her: Women's desire in popular romance fiction. To appear in Harvey K, Shalom C (eds.) - Language and desire - Routledge