My Research

I have a deep commitment to making linguistics accessible and finding practical applications of linguistics research.  I explore this in my ongoing work exploring Language and Professional Identity. This interest in institutional discourse began with my dissertation (of an improvisational theater troupe), and continued with ethnographies exploring the languages practices of organizations and groups ranging from Quakers holding a silent vigil for peace to students of leadership in the business school context. My current book project “Bringing Linguistics to Work” investigates the language of the job search. I bring an interactional sociolinguistic approach to understand the texts and interactions which comprise career exploration. My interest in social media infuses this project by particular focus on the Language of LinkedIn.

Some of my favorite aspects of language to think about include:

In Telling and Retelling Prankster Tales I explore how jokes and pranks get narrated to construct and convey institutional values.

In Narrative Leadership: Storying Leaders in the Business School Classroom I examine how agency is accomplished in narratives told in the business school classroom: within the world of the story; at the interactional level; and at the intertextual level. Ultimately, I  consider implications on the discursive construction of leadership.

Goffman’s Production Format
This paper co-authored with Dr. Margaret Toye considers the affordances of the performance genre known as improvisational theater, and specifically, why ambiguity of principal makes performers enjoy it so very much!!

Discourse Markers and Constructed Dialogue
Linguists have particularly valuable insight to offer in understanding identity, given that one of the primary ways that identity emerges in interaction is via language. One way that I have explored this question is to look at the role of discourse marker “oh’ in presenting voices and accomplishing identity in interaction.

I have long had a research interest in performance, specifically in understanding how identities emerge through language in performance contexts. Intertextuality as an interactional resource is an exploration of this aspect of language drawn from my ethnography of an improvisational theater troupe in Washington, DC.

I explore the role of silence in communicating dissent and performing peace among a community of Quakers in this chapter in Adam Hodges’ Discourses of War and Peace.

Discursive Othering
In this Discursive othering paper I explore “discursive othering” calling attention not only to practices of linguistic differentiation, but instances in which illuminating this difference involves evaluation.

Social Media
My author contribution to the Discourse 2.0 edited volume focused on the evolving norms surrounding use of Facebook, but I am also very interested in LinkedIn. I give LinkedIn for Humanistsabout the social and interactional functions of the medium, which incorporate linguistic insights.

The Language of Professional Self-Presentation
In my most recent book, I share stories of professional linguists to help answer the perennial question “what can you do with linguistics?” along with developmental activities to help linguists bring analytical and research tools and skills to navigating career next steps. “Here’s to what’s next!”