Dr Michelle Sheehan

Senior Lecturer, English Language and Linguistics

Faculty:Faculty of Arts, Law & Social Sciences

Department:Department of English and Media

Location: Cambridge

Areas of Expertise: English language and linguistics

Courses taught: English Language and English Language Teaching, English Language and Linguistics

Michelle teaches and researches in the area of linguistics, with a particular focus on the structure of language (syntax).

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Michelle's website

michelle.sheehan@anglia.ac.uk

Background

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Since August 2015, Michelle has been a senior lecturer in English Language and Linguistics at Anglia Ruskin University, in Cambridge, UK. Before that, she worked as a researcher at the Universities of Newcastle, Durham and Cambridge on a variety of collaborative projects.

She is interested in the structure of language (syntactic theory), how languages vary and how we can model this variation (typology, comparative syntax) and how structure and meaning interact (syntax/semantics interface). She has a particular interest in languages descended from Latin (Romance languages), especially Spanish and Portuguese varieties and in the study of language universals from a variety of perspectives.

She is currently collaborating with a number of colleagues in the UK, the Basque country and Brazil on issues related to argument structure (ditransitive and causative constructions), case and agreement (experimental and theoretical perspectives) and unexpressed arguments (Control).

Areas of research supervision

Michelle has successfully supervised MA and PhDs dissertations in the area of comparative syntax touching on the grammars of English, Chinese, Hungarian, Spanish, Portuguese,  Italian and its dialects, Polish, Greek and Icelandic. She would be very interested in supervising projects focused partly or wholly on the syntax of any language, particularly from a comparative perspective.

Teaching

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For 2015-16, Michelle will be teaching on:

  • Revealing English Structure
  • Spoken Discourse
  • History of the English Language
  • Written Text (with Bettina Beinhoff).

Qualifications

  • PhD Linguistics, Newcastle University
  • MA Linguistics (distinction), York University
  • BA Modern Languages, University of Oxford

Memberships, editorial boards

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  • Meetings secretary for the Linguistics Association of Great Britain (LAGB, 2015-)
  • Member of the Linguistics Association of Great Britain
  • Member of Generative Linguistics in the Old World (GLOW)
  • Member of the Philological Society (PhilSoc)
  • Member of the Linguistic Society of America (LSA)
  • Co-editor of IBERIA (online journal on theoretical linguistics)

Research grants, consultancy, knowledge exchange

  • British Academy International Partnership and Mobility Scheme grant of £10,000 for the project 'Variation in Romance causatives: a synchronic and diachronic study' (PI, with Sonia Cyrino, UNICAMP, 2015-16)
  • Cambridge Returning Carers Scheme grant of £2500 for academic travel (2014)
  • Fundaçao de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo grant of of £2900 for a visiting scholarship at Universidade Estadual de Campinas, Brazil (hosted by Sonia Cyrino, 2014)
  • Cambridge Humanities Research Grant of £6801 for the project 'Probing a typological gap: ergativity as a marked alignment?' (Co-I with John Williams) (2012-14)
  • British Academy conference grant of £6800 for ' The Past and Future of Universal Grammar' (co-appilcant with Wolfram Hinzen, 2011)
  • Two Newcastle University Humanities and Social Sciences conference grants os £500 (2005, 2009)
  • Arts and Humanities Research Board doctoral funding (2003-06)
  • York University studentship for MA study (2001-02

Selected recent publications

Biberauer, T. & Sheehan, M. (eds.) (2013). Theoretical Approaches to Disharmonic Word Orders. Oxford University Press.

Biberauer, T., Holmberg, A., Roberts, I. & Sheehan, M. (2014). Complexity in comparative syntax: the view from modern parametric theory. In F. Newmeyer & L. Preston (eds.), Measuring Linguistic Complexity, 103-127. Oxford University Press.

Hinzen, W.. & Sheehan, M. (2013). The Philosophy of Universal Grammar. Oxford University Press.

Sheehan, M. (2013a). Explaining the Final-over-Final Constraint: formal and functional approaches. In T. Biberauer & M. Sheehan (eds.), Theoretical Approaches to Disharmonic Word Order. Oxford University Press, 407-444.

Sheehan, M. (2013b). Some implications of a copy theory of labelling. Syntax 16 (4): 362-396.

Sheehan, M. (2013c) The resuscitation of CED. In S. Kan, C. Moore-Cantwell & R. Staubs (eds.), Proceedings of the 40th Annual Meeting of the North East Linguistic Society (NELS 40). Amherst, Mass.: GLSA, 135-150.

Sheehan, M. (2014a). Partial Control in Romance Languages: the covert comitative analysis. In K. Lahousse & S. Marzo (eds.), Romance Languages and Linguistic Theory, 181-198. John Benjamins.

Sheehan, M. (2014b). Portuguese, Russian and the Theory of Control. In H. Huang, E. Poole & A. Rysling (eds.), Proceedings of the 43rd Annual Meeting of the North East Linguistic Society 43 (NELS 43), volume 2, 115-126.

Sheehan, M. (2014c). Towards a Parameter Hierarchy for Alignment. In R. E. Santana-LaBarge (ed.), Proceedings of WCCFL 31, 399-408. Somerville, Mass.: Cascadilla Press.

Sheehan, M. (To appear a). Case. Ergative languages. To appear in A. Fábregas, J. Mateu & M. Putnam (eds.), Contemporary Linguistic Parameters, Bloomsbury.

Sheehan, M. (To appear b). Complex predicates. To appear in A. Ledgeway & M. Maiden (eds.), The Oxford Guide to the Romance Languages, Oxford University Press.

Sheehan, M. (To appear c). Control of inflected infinitives in European Portuguese. To appear in A. Gonçalves & A.-L. Santos (eds.), Complement clauses in Portuguese: syntax and acquisition. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Sheehan, M. (To appear d). Labelling and the Head-Final Filter. To appear in L. Bauke, E. Groat & A. Blümel (eds.), Labels and Roots, Mouton de Gruyter.

Sheehan, M. (To appear e). Parameterising ergativity: an inherent case approach. To appear in J. Coon, D. Massam, and L. Travis (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Ergativity, Oxford University Press.

Sheehan, M. (To appear f). Review of Coon, Jessica. (2013) Aspects of Split Ergativity. New York: Oxford University Press. To appear in Linguistic Variation.

Sheehan, M. (To appear g). Subjects, null subjects and expletives in Romance. To appear in S. Fischer & S. Gabriel (eds.), Manuals of Romance Linguistics (MRL): Grammatical Interfaces.

Sheehan, M., & van der Wal, J. (To appear). Do we need abstract Case? To appear in K. Kim (ed.), Proceedings of WCCFL 33. Somerville, Mass.: Cascadilla Press.

Recent presentations and conferences

2015. Variation and change in the Romance faire-infinitif. Paper presented at the Romance Linguistics Seminar, Cambridge, January 2015.

2015. (with John Williams and Albertyna Paciorek) Probing a typological gap: experimental evidence for an accusative bias? Paper presented at L2 acquisition of alignment patterns in typologically diverse languages: case and agreement. Gent, February 2015.

2015. (with Sonia Cyrino) Variation and change in the Romance faire-infinitif. Poster presented at the Incontro di Grammatica Generativa, Perugia, February 2015.

2015. (with Jenneke van der Wal) Nominal licensing without abstract Case. Paper presented at WCCFL 33, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, March 2015.

2015. Spanish causatives in the Romance context. Paper presented at IV International Conference on Hispanic Linguistics: Harmony and Contrasts, Lisbon, April 2015.

2015. (with Maia Duguine) Control in Basque nominalisations: issues and potential solutions. Paper presented at Colóquio de Gramática Generativa. Bayonne, May 2015.

2015. (with Anders Holmberg & Jenneke van der Wal) Movement from the double object construction is never symmetrical. Paper to be presented at Formal Approaches to Morphosyntactic Variation. Vitoria-Gasteiz, June 2015.

2015. (with Anders Holmberg & Jenneke van der Wal) Movement from the double object construction is never symmetrical. Paper to be presented at The Linguistics Association of Great Britain Annual Meeting, UCL, September 2015.

2015. (with Ian Roberts) A Parameter hierarchy for passives. Paper to be presented at The Linguistics Association of Great Britain Annual Meeting, UCL, September 2015

2015. (with Sonia Cyrino) Ibero-Romance causatives: constrained variation. Paper to be presented at Ibero-Romance in Contact and Contrast, Leuven, December 2015.

2014. The worst Case Scenario. Paper presented at TIN-dag 2014, Leiden, February (with J. van der Wal).

2014. (with J. van der Wal) The worst Case Scenario. Paper presented at Linguistics Association of Great Britain Annual Meeting, Oxford, September.

2014. (with J. van der Wal)The worst Case Scenario. Paper presented at Societas Linguistica Europaea (SLE), Poznan, September.

2014. (with J. van der Wal)The worst Case Scenario. Paper presented at The State of the Art in Comparative Syntax Workshop, Comparative Germanic Syntax Workshop (CGSW), York, September.

2014. (with J. van der Wal) The worst Case Scenario. Paper presented at Workshop on Syntactic Variation, Bucharest, November.

2014. (with Sonia Cyrino) Variation and change in the Romance faire-infinitif. Paper presented at Going Romance 2014, Lisbon, December.

2013. Towards a general alignment parameter hierarchy. Paper presented at WCCFL 31, Arizona, February.

2013. (with T. Biberauer & I. Roberts) Mafioso parameters and the limits of syntactic variation. Paper presented at WCCFL 31, Arizona, February.

2013. A parameter hierarchy approach to alignment. Poster presented at the Biolinguistics Workshop, Generative Linguistics in the Old World (GLOW), Lund, April.

2013. (with T. Biberauer & I. Roberts) On the Mafioso Effect in grammar. Paper presented at the Biolinguistics Workshop, Generative Linguistics in the Old World (GLOW), Lund, April.


Invited talks

2015. Case parameters. Invited talk given at LingTea, McGill, Montreal, April 2015.

2014. Clausal alignment: the case for parameter hierarchies. Invited talk given at Workshop on Principles and Parameters. Arezzo, Italy, July.

2014. Partial Control in European Portuguese and Russian: parallels and contrasts. Invited talk given at First Workshop on Control, University of São Paulo, Brazil, July.

2014. Partial Control in European Portuguese and Russian: parallels and contrasts. Invited talk given at Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP), Campinas, Brazil, August.

2014. Obviation and Control in Portuguese and Russian. Invited talk given at Universidade Federal do Paraná, Curitiba, Brazil, August.

2014. Ergative alignment in Romance causatives: a parameter hierarchy approach. Invited talk given at Building Blocks, University of Leipzig, Germany, November.

2013. Probing a typological gap: cognitive evidence for an accusative bias? Invited talk given at Language Sciences in the 21st Century: the Interdisciplinary Challenge, Cambridge, October (with J. Williams & A. Paciorek).

2012. (Fake) Partial Control in Romance. Invited talk given at Edinburgh University, November.

2012. On deep parallels between nominal and clausal projections. Invited talk given at Workshop on the Similarities and Differences between Clauses and Nominals, Aarhus University, Denmark, December.