Research

A complete list of theses, publications, research presentations, and works-in-progress can be found on my CV.

In my research I qualitatively analyze the intersections of language, identity, and power in face-to-face and mediated contexts. I explore race, gender, humor, activism, social media discourse, and institutional discourses in higher education, and I am particularly focused on the language, culture, and experiences of Black people in the U.S. I bring together theories and methods from fields including sociolinguistics, linguistic anthropology, discourse studies, media studies, sociology, education, and Black Studies.

Motivated by my own experiences as a Black woman in U.S. higher education, my dissertation research analyzes diversity discourses, ideologies, and practices in U.S. colleges and universities and their consequences on the experiences of graduate students of color. Through comparative ethnography at two Minority Serving Institutions – a Historically Black College/University and a recently-designated Hispanic Serving Institution – I explore how diversity is differentially conceptualized and operationalized within these contexts. I also analyze the websites of varied colleges and universities as sites of ideological production that reflect both hegemonic and institution-specific influences on diversity.

My dissertation includes research-informed suggestions for colleges and universities as they navigate constantly shifting “best practices” for diversity and responses from people within and outside of academia. I am collaboratively developing these suggestions as a Fall 2020 research fellow in the “Discipling Diversity” Residential Research Group through the UC Humanities Research Institute.

I’ve researched race, humor, activism, and internet language on Vine, Tumblr, and Twitter. My M.A. thesis analyzes Vine racial comedy as a platform-specific genre of African American humor, and I continue to analyze the lasting impact of Vine’s multimodal discourse practices since its closure in 2017. I’ve theorized the concept of everyday online activism based on the discursive practices of Black Tumblr users and explored how other online users participate in this phenomenon on Tumblr and Twitter. I’m also broadly interested in how social media structures shape language and interaction, and the forms and functions of humor in other media contexts such as TV and stand-up comedy.

Recent Publications

Calhoun, Kendra. In Press. “Blackout, Black Excellence, Black Power: Strategies of Everyday OnlineActivism on Black Tumblr.” In Allison McCracken, Alexander Cho, Louisa Stein and Indira Neill Hoch (eds.), A Tumblr Book: Platform and Cultures, Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press (Expected Nov 2, 2020)

Calhoun, Kendra, Anne H. Charity Hudley, Mary Bucholtz, Jazmine Exford, and Brittney Johnson. Forthcoming. “Attracting Black Students to Linguistics Through a Black-Centered Introduction to Linguistics Course.” Language.

Calhoun, Kendra. 2019. “Vine Racial Comedy as Anti-Hegemonic Humor: Linguistic Performance and Generic Innovation,” Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 29(1), 27-49 https://doi.org/10.1111/jola.12206