The LSA features a spotlight on student members, who are paving the way for further linguistic research in the field! These students are selected because of their accomplishments in publishing works in peer-reviewed journals.  If you would like to be considered, please read the guidelines here and contact us at [email protected].


Congratulations to Sean McKinnon (Indiana University) who is our featured spotlight member!

Sean McKinnon Indiana University Journal of Language and Sexuality 6(2) LSA Student Spotlight


Title of Publication:  "Building a thick skin for each other": The use of 'reading' as an interactional practice of mock impoliteness in drag queen backstage talk


Journal of Language and Sexuality 6(1) cover

Journal:  Journal of Language and Sexuality



Sean is a Ph.D. candidate in Hispanic Linguistics in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at Indiana University. He received a B.S. in Psychology and Spanish from The Ohio State University and a M.A. in Theoretical and Applied Linguistics from Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona, Spain. His main research interests include language contact (specifically Spanish-Catalan contact in Catalonia and Spanish-Kaqchikel Maya contact in Guatemala), sociophonetics and variationist sociolinguistics. He is currently working on his dissertation entitled "The sociophonetics of language contact in Guatemala: An examination of plosives in monolingual/bilingual Spanish and Kaqchikel Maya."

Sean also maintains an active research agenda in (mock) impoliteness, which is the focus of this featured article. In the paper, he examines four drag queen performers' use of 'reading' (i.e., when drag queens creatively and humorously comment on an aspect of another drag queen that: (a) the target may be self-conscious about; (b) the other queens know that the target may be self-conscious about). The data are based on nearly three hours of recorded backstage talk before and during a drag performance, as well as an interview with the show director of that performance. Overall, Sean argues that the purpose of reading is for drag queens to prepare one another to face hostile comments that they will encounter with both LGBT and non-LGBT peoples, hence they are "building a thick skin for each other."

In addition to his research, Sean enjoys teaching Spanish language courses and an introduction to Hispanic Linguistics course. Whenever possible, he tries to connect linguistic concepts to his fieldwork experience so that students can see these concepts "in the wild," as well as showing them what one can do with a degree in linguistics.


Why did you decide to become an LSA student member?   

I joined LSA because I wanted to support the advancement of our field and the dissemination of our findings to the general public. The annual LSA meeting and the summer Linguistic Institute are prime examples of LSA bringing together professors, researchers and students to move the field forward. The recent participation by the LSA in the March for Science and their "The Five-minute Linguist" contest at the annual meeting showcase the important public outreach that the organization does on behalf of its members.


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