Dr Imogen Marcus

Senior Lecturer in English Language

Department of English, History & Creative Writing

Research Interests

  • English historical linguistics
  • Discourse analysis
  • Corpus linguistics
  • Writing systems
  • Early manuscript studies


I am currently Principal Investigator on a two year research project,  ‘From Manuscripts to Messaging: Orality, Texts and Connectives from Late Medieval to Present Day English’, funded by a British Academy/Leverhulme Small Research Grant. The project asks: to what extent are digital writing practices really ‘new’? Specifically, it compares the oral communication strategies used in computer mediated communication such as email and instant messaging with those adopted in late medieval and early modern English written texts, which often display ‘speech-like’ characteristics. In so doing, it aims to investigate digital writing practices from an innovative, trans-historical perspective. A corpus of non-literary texts including sermons, statutes, letters, emails and instant messages, stretching from late medieval 15th Century to present day 21st Century English is in the process of being created. Two research papers are also being produced. The first investigates the frequency, function and distribution of connectives (specifically coordinating and subordinating conjunctions) across the corpus. The second takes a trans-historical approach to punctuation practices in instant messaging.


I currently lead the following undergraduate English Language modules: Studying English Language, Exploring Variation in English, The History and Development of EnglishEarly English 600-1500 AD and Historical Linguistics. I also teach on Forensic Linguistics, Language, Gender and Sexuality and The Language of Shakespeare and his Time, and have previously taught on two other English Language modules, The Structure of English and Sounds of English. At Masters level, I’ve taught on the interdisciplinary taught MA course, Critical Approaches to Postgraduate Studies in the Humanities and Social Sciences. I supervise undergraduate dissertations on subjects relating to language change and have recently co-supervised a PhD dissertation.



Marcus, I. 2018. The Linguistics of Spoken Communication in Early Modern English Writing: Exploring Bess of Hardwick’s Manuscript Letters. London: Palgrave. https://www.palgrave.com/gb/book/9783319660073


Ingham, R., Marcus, I and Sylvester, L . In press. ‘Lone other-language items in later medieval texts’. Journal of Historical Sociolinguistics.

Marcus, I. 2019. Bess’s use of language. In: Hopkins, L (Ed.) Bess of Hardwick: New Perspectives. Manchester: Manchester University Press.

Ingham, R., Sylvester, L and Marcus, I. 2019. ‘The penetration of French-origin lexis into Middle English occupational domains’. Current Issues in Linguistic Theory (CILT) Series. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Marcus, I and Evans, M. 2019. “Right trusty and well-beloved”: The socio-pragmatics of gender, power and stance in sixteenth-century English letters. In: Lutsky, U and Nevala, M. (eds.) Reference and identity markers in public discourse. Pragmatics and Beyond Series. Amsterdam and New York: John Benjamins.

Marcus, I. 2017. ‘Whose letters are they anyway? Addressing the issue of scribal writing in Bess of Hardwick’s Early Modern English letters’. In: Mostert, M (Ed.) Verbal and Visual Communication in Early English Texts. Utrecht Studies in Medieval Literacy. Turnhout: Brepols.

Sylvester, L and Marcus, I. 2017. ‘Studying French-origin Middle English lexis using the Bilingual Thesaurus of Medieval England: a comparison of the vocabulary of two occupational domains’. In: Delesse, C and Louviot, E (eds). Studies in Language Variation and Change 2: Shifting, Switching and Alternating Patterns in the History of English. Cambridge Scholars, Newcastle upon Tyne.

Sylvester, L, Marcus, I and Ingham, R. 2016. ‘A Bilingual Thesaurus of Everyday Life in Medieval England: Some Issues at the Interface of Semantics and Lexicography’. International Journal of Lexicography. DOI: 10.1093/ijl/ecw018

Ingham, R and Marcus, I. 2016. ‘Vernacular Bilingualism in Professional Spaces, 1200 to 1400’. In: Classen, A (Ed). Multilingualism in the middle ages and early modern age; communication and miscommunication in the premodern world. Berlin: De Gruyter, pp. 145-165.


2014. Review of Horace Walpole and his Correspondents by Froukje Henstra. Linguist List, 26.


The Orality in Written Texts (OWT) Corpus (forthcoming).

The Bilingual Thesaurus of Everyday Life in Medieval England https://thesaurus.ac.uk/bth/ (Postdoctoral Research Associate)

Bess of Hardwick’s Letters: The Complete Correspondence c.1550-1608 https://www.bessofhardwick.org/ (AHRC-funded PhD student)

The Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary http://www.oed.com/thesaurus/ (Assistant Editor)

Public Engagement


2015 – 2016. Bilingual Thesaurus of Everyday Life in Medieval England project blog.


September, 2018. We Speak French Here. History Today magazine. https://www.historytoday.com/imogen-marcus/we-speak-french-here

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