Angela C. L. Schrader is a PhD Candidate in the Linguistics & Applied Linguistics program within the Department of English at Arizona State University. Her dissertation research focuses on using interdisciplinary approaches and developing a methodology for utilizing modern forensic linguistic testing to aid in determining authorship in medieval manuscripts, while taking into consideration the myriad of challenges inherent in defining authorship from a medieval perspective. She expects to defend her dissertation and attain her PhD in the Spring 2021 semester.

The LSA Member Spotlight highlights the interests and accomplishments of a different LSA member each month. Click here to see previous Member Spotlights.

What is your background in linguistics?

I was introduced to the field of linguistics during the final semester of my BA program in Anthropology. Analyzing a language’s structure was very much like putting together a puzzle, and I was particularly fascinated with how various cultures develop the grammatical elements and vocabularies of their languages and how those elements changed over time. Originally, I was planning on pursuing a career and PhD in Archaeology; that one class changed my perspective entirely.

So, when it was time to apply for my Master’s and then my PhD program, I changed course and chose Linguistics. I studied Linguistics and Medieval Studies for my Master’s degree with the English department at Arizona State University, focusing on the Germanic and Celtic language families and their syntax from a historical comparative standpoint. My Master’s thesis focused on the syntax of negation in Old English, Old Norse, and Medieval Welsh and compared the negation cycle for those three languages as they approached their modern versions of the languages. For my PhD research, I wanted to add a couple more elements to my linguistic bag of knowledge: those of manuscript analysis and forensic linguistics. My work towards my dissertation currently consists of analyzing the benefits of utilizing forensic linguistic testing techniques on medieval manuscripts for determining authorship, and developing a working methodology for doing so.

How did you end up working for the LSA?

I am currently in the candidacy phase of my PhD program, and as such, I’m searching for my first professorship in academia. While I was in the process of putting in applications at various institutions, I came across the LSA’s intern posting for this Spring semester, and I was instantly interested. I have been a member of the LSA for a while now, and I’ve always found the society to be great with its members and to have interesting content and events to participate in. I wanted to be a part of that process, and to learn how the society works from the inside out, so I applied for the position and crossed my fingers – and the rest is history!

How do you spend a typical workday?

I divide my days between working on projects and assignments for the LSA and writing my dissertation, so every day looks a little different. I start off by figuring out what I need to accomplish for the day on both of those jobs, by analyzing my writing goals and checking LSA email for items that need to be done; then I usually focus on the LSA items first while setting a good time to stop for the day so I can get some writing done. As is so often the case, sometimes that schedule works out, and sometimes it doesn’t – if an LSA task takes longer than expected, I get a little less writing done; if the LSA tasks go quicker, then I have more time for writing and other tasks. So far, my work on the LSA Annual Report and social media postings are the majority of what I have been working on so far, with a couple of meetings per week to attend.

What are the biggest challenges facing the LSA?

Retention of members is the number one challenge, I think. During this time of uncertainty in academia (and the rest of the world as well), faculty and students (for various reasons) are choosing to be more discerning as to which societies they are going to maintain membership to. As with all societies, it is more vital than ever to keep exploring new ways of bringing content to members and showing them that the LSA is a relevant, important society to continue to subscribe to.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

My favorite part of any job is the people I work with and meet along the way, and this job is no exception. I am really enjoying working with Alyson, David, and Beth, and I am grateful for the new connections I am beginning to make with other linguists who are involved with the society. I can’t wait to see what the rest of the semester will bring with regards to new connections within the community!

What’s the one thing you would most like LSA members to know about the work you do?

The LSA intern has a unique opportunity within the society to work on new projects each semester. As an older graduate student, I happen to have a good deal of industry experience already in handling administrative and business management duties for a small center that accomplishes way more than its size would indicate is possible. I am hoping that previous experience will allow me to help the LSA in new and unique ways throughout this semester. One project I am currently working on involves finding new ways to find and reach more linguists in the field and let them know that the LSA is a fantastic society to be associated with, so we can bring more members into the community.