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.

I’ve researched race, humor, activism, and internet language on Vine, Tumblr, and Twitter. My M.A. thesis analyzed 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.

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 conceptualizations of diversity are discursively constructed and operationalized within these contexts. I also analyze the websites of varied colleges and universities as texts that (re)produce ideologies and reflect both hegemonic and institution-specific understandings of diversity, equity, and inclusion. The abstract and table of contents are available below, and the full dissertation will be available open access through UC’s escholarship repository.

Select Publications

Calhoun, Kendra, Anne H. Charity Hudley, Mary Bucholtz, Jazmine Exford, and Brittney Johnson. 2021. “Attracting Black Students to Linguistics Through a Black-Centered Introduction to Linguistics Course.” Language 97(1), e12-e38

Calhoun, Kendra. 2020. “Blackout, Black Excellence, Black Power: Strategies of Everyday Online Activism 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

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

Calhoun, Kendra. 2015. “‘It is the worst of our time’: Youth Language, Language Attitudes, and Arguments About Literally,” Texas Linguistic Forum 58, 1-10

Recent Research Presentations

“Diversity Discourse on University Websites: How It Can Uphold the Racial Status Quo,” Annual Meeting of the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education

“‘Oh [mɑ] god’: Appropriation of African American English and the Construction of Asian American Identity in Ali Wong’s Baby Cobra,” Annual Meeting of the Linguistic Society of America (with Joyhanna Yoo Garza)

“Going Virtual: Linguistic Anthropological Methods in Online Contexts.” Raising Our Voices series, American Anthropological Association

“The Discursive Construction of ‘Straight White Boys’ on Social Media as Social Critique.” West Chester University, Department of English

African American Language, Culture, and Activism on Social Media.” Black History Month speaker series, University of Nottingham, School of English

Analyzing Race, Humor, and Activism Online Through the Lens of Black Digital Culture.” University of Kent, School of European Culture and Languages