Travel Scholarship Recipient Interview – Calhoun

Each year, through the generous donations of AoIR conference attendees, we are able to fund several travel scholarships for junior scholars to attend the conference. We want to recognize our scholarship recipients and share with you a little bit about them and their interests. This is the first in a series of posts that feature travel scholarship recipients.


Calhoun-headshotKendra Calhoun

Who are you?

Kendra Calhoun, a third year Ph.D. student in linguistics at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Where are you from?

I grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, then lived in Columbia, South Carolina for four years while completing my undergraduate degree at the University of South Carolina. I currently live in Santa Barbara, California.

What is your current area of study?

My graduate research is in the area of sociocultural linguistics and examines the intersections of language and race in social media context. I’m particularly interested in humor and forms of social activism across online platforms. My current research projects focus on the content produced by African American youth and young adults on the platforms Vine and Tumblr.

Describe the research you will present at AoIR 2016.

My AoIR presentation is titled “Six seconds to talk back: The emergence of racial comedy as a sociopolitical discourse genre on Vine” and it analyzes how King Bach, a young African American man, has created a genre of Vine videos that uses racial comedy as a form of sociopolitical commentary. I specifically examine how King Bach’s comedy draws on the traditions of African American stand-up comedians such as Richard Pryor, but constitutes its own genre as a result of the affordances of the Vine platform. A six-second time limit, special effect capabilities, and collaborative content creation —to name just a few — allow King Bach to address issues like racial profiling, wealth disparity, and colorism in the African American community in unique ways that still feel familiar to an African American audience (or anyone familiar with African American stand-up). His genre of Vine racial comedy is a new, often subtler form of youth and young adults using social media to “talk back” to and challenge dominant ideologies and (mis)representations of African Americans in mainstream media. [Session details: PS-20: Inequalitaties, Friday, 7 Oct, 2:00 – 3:30]

Have you presented at AoIR in the past? If yes, what has been your experience? If #AoIR2016 Berlin is your first AoIR conference, what made you choose this conference?

This will be my first time presenting at AoIR, and prior to submitting to this conference I had presented at various social sciences conferences where the internet aspect of my research was sort of secondary. I didn’t know about AoIR until I started searching for conferences where I could talk more in depth about the social media aspect of my research. After learning more about the association and seeing the wide range of research that was presented at past conferences, AoIR 2016 seemed like the perfect opportunity to present my research from a different theoretical perspective and get to learn from other interdisciplinary scholars in the field of internet research.

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