Terry McDonough

An encounter with language is meaningful. The experience leaves an indelible imprint. Thought is given form. The universe of the mind is disclosed to us. It grants us the power to build new worlds, to share powerful ideas… and to destroy both. I am interested in how this happens and how it came to be this way.

I am a cognitive linguist with a background in discourse analysis and text linguistics. I advocate an interdisciplinary approach to the study of discourse and cognition with an emphasis on achieving neurobiological plausibility. To meet this aim, I subscribe to the Neural Theory of Language (NTL) developed by the ICBS team at UC Berkeley.

I studied English Language and Linguistics at Lancaster University. I later returned to Lancaster to work towards my PhD in Linguistics (Research Only) under the guidance of Professor Chris Hart, one of the first advocates of a Cognitive Linguistic Approach to (Critical) Discourse Analysis. Here I am a member of the Discourse and Text (DisTex), and the Language, Ideology and Power (LIP) research groups. I am a full member of the UK Cognitive Linguistics Association (UK-CLA) and the Cultural Difference and Social Solidarity Network (CDSS). I am also Editor-in-Chief and co-founder of the journal PRISM.

Teaching is a great privilege. Starting at Liverpool Hope University as an Associate Lecturer in Linguistics, I later moved to the University Centre at Blackburn College (UCBC) where I am a Lecturer in English Language. I am a module convener on both the BA (Hons) English Language and the BSc (Hons) Applied Psychology undergraduate degree programmes, both of which are validated and awarded by Lancaster University. I also actively support and supervise student-led research.

Scholars have a duty to the communities they serve. I believe passionately that knowledge and learning ought to be accessible to all. For this reason, I co-founded the Ragged Alliance in association with the Ragged University. Delivering free talks in the local community, the Ragged Alliance is an initiative designed to promote open access and public debate. I also deliver a free and open public course in critical language awareness each year.

Much of my work is dedicated to the development of the following associated research programmes:

  1. Towards a Neural Theory of Discourse (Process and Practice)

The Neural Theory of Language (NTL) offers a radical revision of the nature of natural language. Supported by empirical and experimental evidence in cognitive neuroscience and psycholinguistics, NTL views linguistic processing as an amodal simulation. Traditional approaches to NTL pursue questions related to machine learning and natural language processing; in contrast, I apply NTL to questions drawn from discourse studies. By integrating embodied construction grammar and simulation semantics with traditional text-linguistic methodologies, I pursue the neural substrate that drives the experience of meaning.

  1. Critical-Cognitive Constructionism

The NTL programme is not limited to theoretical and methodological matters; rather, NTL provides an opportunity to address concerns in critical and socio- linguistics. By adopting a critical-constructivist perspective, I apply NTL to questions traditionally associated with social constructionism. Why do abstract agents, forces, and processes, such as an economic market, or a political idea, appear to ‘make sense’? What are the linguistic, conceptual, and neurocognitive correlates that contribute to the process(es) of sense-making? To what extent do the processes attributed to sense-making aid the social construction of everyday life? More crucially, to what extent can these questions be tested using experimental and empirical methodologies?

  1. Critical-Cognitive Pedagogies

In conjunction with colleagues at Edge Hill University and Liverpool John Moores University, I contribute to a joint-project that seeks to explore the implications of a critical pedagogy in both theory and practice. This venture is formalised in collaboration with the Critical Pedagogies and Theories for Post-compulsory and Informal Education research group at CERES, Liverpool John Moores University. For my part, I advocate a cognitive-constructivist approach to methodological and pedagogical issues. More importantly, I address the ways in which institutional practices are reconfigured through texts and discourses.

  1. Other Research Interests

While my primary interests remain in the fields of language-use, and the cognitive and brain sciences, I am also interested in the historical divide between linguistic philosophy and philosophy of language. In addition, I maintain currency with related fields, including artificial intelligence and machine learning; the emergent impact of disruptive technologies; and the history and philosophy of science.



Book Chapters:

McDonough, T.D. and Reynolds, P. (2018). Institutional Discourses and Social Change. In Reynolds, P. et al (Eds.). Criticality from the Inside. Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars.

Reynolds, P. and McDonough, T.D. (2018). Exploring Traditional and Critical Pedagogies. In Reynolds, P. et al (Eds.). Criticality from the Inside. Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars.

McDonough, T.D. and Reynolds, P. (2018). The Context to Contemporary Further and Higher Education: Neo-Liberalism. In Reynolds, P. et al (Eds.). Criticality from the Inside. Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars.

McDonough, T.D. (2014). Language. In Dobbs, S. (Ed.). English Language, Literature and Creative Writing: A Practical Guide for Students. London: Anthem Press. pp.3-20.
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Journal Articles:

McDonough, T.D. (2018). The Neural Theory of Language and CDA: Applying Simulation Semantics to the NSS. CADAAD (TBC).

McDonough, T.D. (2018). Review of Richardson (2017) British Fascism: A Discourse-Historical Analysis. Discourse and Society 30(1). London: Sage.

McDonough, T.D. (2018). Mind your language: why HE-in-FE is a divisive phrase. PRISM 2(1).

McDonough, T.D. (2017). Review of Charteris-Black (2016) Fire Metaphors: Discourses of Awe and Authority. Discourse and Communication 11(6). London: Sage.
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McDonough, T.D. (2017). Editorial: Creating a Third Space. PRISM I (1). pp. 8-20.
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McDonough, T.D. (2008). The New American Empire and the Electronic Revolution. East Lancashire Research Journal 1(2).

Conference Papers:

McDonough, T.D. (2018). Simulating Meaning in the Brain. Linguistics and English Language Annual Conference. Lancaster University, Lancaster, UK. 12th July 2018.

McDonough, T.D. (2018). Seasons, Cycles, and Journeys: How We Think About Change. Ageing, Generational Change and Social Solidarity: Managing Diversity in Ageing Societies. University of Social Sciences and Humanities, Wroclaw, Poland. 9th to 10th July 2018.

McDonough, T.D. (2018). The Coherence of Incoherence: The Case of Schrödinger’s Immigrant. CADAAD 2018. Aalborg University, Aalborg, Denmark. 5th to 7th July 2018.

McDonough, T.D. (2018). Metaphors of the Market. Discourse Net 20. Karoli Gaspar University, Budapest, Hungary. 17th to 19th May 2018.

McDonough, T.D. (2017). Imagining the Market: Simulation and Grounded Cognition. A Neoliberal Nightmare: Beyond the Populist Insurgence? A CDSS Network Seminar. University Centre at Blackburn College. 10th to 12th May 2017.

McDonough, T.D. (2016). Fields of Conceptual Coherence: Or How Making Sense “Makes Sense”. 6th UK Cognitive Linguistics Conference. Bangor University, Bangor, Gwynedd. 19th to 22nd July 2016.

McDonough, T.D. (2016). Cognitive Economies: The Entrenchment of the Market in the Discourse of Pedagogic Life. Critical Pedagogies, Power & Possibilities: Strategies for Difference and Solidarity in Contemporary Societies. A Cultural Difference and Social Solidarity Network Workshop. University Centre at Blackburn College, Blackburn. 18th to 20th May 2016.

McDonough, T.D. (2015). The ‘General Peculiarity’ of Temporal Particularity. Time, Substance and Things. University of Paris VIII, Paris. 21st to 22nd May 2015.

McDonough, T.D. (2010). Nurturing Nature: Teaching Language as a Social Practice. Liverpool College Annual Research Conference. May 2010. 

Grants and Impact Projects:

Enhancing Employability Through Community Challenge. Higher Education Academy (HEA) Teaching Development Grant, 2012-2013. With Dr. Phil Johnson (UCBC) and Dr. Craig Hammond (Liverpool John Moores University).

Public Talks:

A Polar Bear’s Nose and a Flying Pig: Your Brain on Language. UCBC Humanities and Social Science Lecture Series. UCBC. 21st February 2018.

Cognitive Dynamite: Child Language Acquisition and the Developing Brain. Early Childhood Studies Symposium. UCBC. 24th November 2016



Editorial Positions:

Editor-in-Chief and Chair of the Editorial Board
PRISM Journal | http://www.prism-journal.blackburn.ac.uk

Event Organiser:

The Future is Now: Utopia, Dystopia, and the Crises of Tomorrow. University Centre at Blackburn College. 23rd to 25th May 2018.

A Neoliberal Nightmare: Beyond the Populist Insurgence? University Centre at Blackburn College. 10th to 12th May 2017.

Professional Memberships:

Research and Scholarship Committee (UCBC)

Cultural Difference and Social Solidarity Network
UK Cognitive Linguistics Association

Research Groups
Critical Pedagogies, CERES, Liverpool John Moores University
Discourse and Text (DisTex), Lancaster University
Language, Ideology and Power (LIP), Lancaster University
Preston Linguistics Circle (PLC), UCLan

Public Engagement:

Co-Founder and Organiser, The Ragged Alliance (with the Ragged University, Edinburgh). Free and open public lectures in community spaces.