Social Science Award

Elena Semino

A Lancaster University professor has been nominated by the British Association for Applied Linguistics, in recognition of her contribution to social science.

Professor Elena Semino has been conferred as Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences after an extensive peer review process, which takes the public impact of research in to account. 

Over the years, she has completed work on the language of politics, science, literature, and more recently, healthcare.

Reflecting on this achievement, she said: “I still cannot quite believe it - I am honoured and humbled. I would not have got to this point without many wonderful colleagues I have worked with, in Lancaster and elsewhere.”

Explaining her current research, she adds: “I am particularly interested in how metaphors and narratives are used to frame important phenomena and experiences, from mental health to climate change. This kind of research has practical implications that I do my best to pursue.

“A recent project that I am proud of is on the metaphors that people use for their experience of cancer. With my colleagues, I have shown that there is evidence of the potentially negative effects of ‘fighting’ metaphors, but also that different metaphors can be helpful to different people. Our main message is that patients, in particular, should be entitled and enabled to use the metaphors that work best for them, whatever they might be.”

Professor Semino currently directs the ESRC Centre for Corpus Approaches to Social Science (CASS) in Lancaster. 

The Centre has funding until 2023 for a research programme on corpus-based approaches to health(care) communication. 

“Within that I am working on communication about the experiences of psychosis and chronic pain,” said Professor Semino. “But the thing I am most excited about at the moment is that we are about to launch a ‘Metaphor Menu for People with Cancer’ during the Festival of Social Science in early November. The Menu includes many different metaphors, from fairgrounds to music, and we hope it will be useful to people, including as an inspiration to invent new metaphors that are helpful to them.”

Professor Semino joins 14 other esteemed Lancaster academics to be recognised by the Academy of Social Sciences

You can follow Professor Semino Elena on Twitter.

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