Dr Deborah Chirrey

Associate Head of Department (Learning & Teaching and Student Experience)

Department of English, History & Creative Writing


My current research interest focuses on how language represents and constructs sexual and gender identities. In particular I use aspects of discourse and conversational analysis to analyse how minority sexual identities are created and maintained in written and spoken discourse. I am exploring the ways in which advice literature that is aimed at young people who are coming out as gay or lesbian, represents that experience. Most recently, I have been analysing the use of metaphor in these texts in order to explore their rhetorical effects.

Before coming to Edge Hill in 1994, I worked for several years on the Historical Thesaurus of English research project at Glasgow University. I also taught part-time at Glasgow University in the Department of English Language, and registered there for a PhD.  My research interests originally centred on various phonetic aspects of Scottish English and Scots, and my PhD research was into the acoustic and articulatory characteristics of a group of consonants in accents of Scottish English.

Research interests

  • Sexuality and gender
  • The linguistic performance of sexual and gender identity
  • Queer theory
  • Feminism
  • Discourse analysis
  • Metaphor


  • MA (Hons) (Glasgow University, 1988)
  • PhD (Glasgow University, 2001)


I currently contribute to or lead the following undergraduate modules on the BA (Hons) English and BA (Hons) English Language Degrees:

  • LNG 2116 History and Development of English
  • LNG 2122 Phonetics and Phonology
  • LNG 3118 Language and Gender
  • LNG 3120 Communicating Sexuality
  • LNG 3123 Forensic Linguistics

In addition I have taught modules on child language acquisition, spoken and written discourse analysis, and the language of Shakespeare and his time.

I also contribute to a number of modules on the MA English degree at Edge Hill, and am currently supervising a student on the MRes (English Language).  In addition, I am supervising another two students’ PhD research.


For more information about my publications please visit the Edge Hill Research Archive.

  • (2012) ‘Reading the script: an analysis of script formulation in coming out advice texts.’ Journal of language and sexuality, Vol 1(1): 35-58.2011.
  • (2011) ‘Formulating dispositions in coming-out advice’. Discourse studies. June,13(3): 283-298.
  • (2007) ‘Women like us: mediating and contesting identity in lesbian advice literature’, in Sauntson and Kyratziz (eds) Language, sexualities and desires, Palgrave. 223 – 244.
  • (2003) ‘I hereby come out’: What sort of speech act is coming out? Journal of Sociolinguistics, 7/1, 2003: 24-37
  • (1999) ‘Edinburgh: descriptive material’, in Paul Foulkes and G Doherty (eds) Urban voices, Arnold, pp 223 – 227.
  • (1995/6) ‘Phonetic descriptions of Scottish accents: a historical perspective’, in J. Derrick McClure (ed) 1995/1996 Scottish Language, Number 14, Association for Scottish Literary Studies, pp 190 – 203.


Co-organiser of UK Language Variation and Change 8 (UKLVC8), Edge Hill University, 12-14 September, 2011.

Conference papers

  • ‘Metaphors we come out by: analysing metaphor in coming-out self-help texts.’   7th International Gender and Language Association Conference, Universidade do Vale do Rio dos Sinos (UNISINOS), Brazil, June 20, 2012 – June 22, 2012.
  • 17-21 September 2010, ‘Formulation dispositions in coming-out advice.’  International Gender and Language Association 6, Tsuda College, Tokyo, Japan.
  • 13-15th February 2009, ‘Reading the script: how we make sense of coming out.’  The 16th Annual Lavender Languages and Linguistics Conference, American University, Washington DC.
  • September 2006. ‘Out of the comfort zone: teaching language and sexuality.’ International Gender and Language Association symposium, Liverpool Hope.
  • April 2002 ‘I hereby warn/promise/come out.’ Is coming out a speech act?  Paper delivered at conference on language and sexuality, Love is a Many Splendored Thing, Kingston University.
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