Hello! My name is Alexandra Krendel and I have joined the CASS team as a Senior Research Associate on the Future of Human Reproduction project. This project involves investigating the cultural, ethical, legal and social implications of technological developments in human reproduction such as ectogenesis (pregnancy outside of the womb), in-vitro gametogenesis (creating egg/sperm cells using other cells) and genome editing. As an applied linguist on this interdisciplinary project alongside Prof Elena Semino, I investigate how people discuss these technologies online, specifically the positive and negative attitudes they express towards them, using corpus linguistic methods. One of my favourite things about this project is how interdisciplinary it is – everybody on the team brings an interesting new perspective and I learn so much from all of the other disciplines around the table. My other favourite thing is how interesting the data is!
I am no stranger to Lancaster University as I conduced my PhD research here, looking into the language of an anti-feminist network of groups and websites known as ‘the manosphere’. Parts of the manosphere include involuntary celibates (incels), pick-up artists, the Red Pill, and more. Specifically, I have looked at the language shared across, and unique to, various manosphere subreddits, how gendered social actors are discussed in the manosphere, how manosphere users act in relation to each other, and the extent to which the language of the manosphere can be defined as hate speech. I have also had the privilege of discussing my findings with internet safety NGOs alongside the wider Misogyny and The Red Pill team (https://twitter.com/_MANTRaP_).
More recently, I have been investigating the language of gender-based separatism (comparing the language of lesbian separatists and male separatists) with Prof Veronika Koller and Dr Jessica Aiston. I am also interested in how the concept of ‘traditional femininity’ is expressed both textually and visually, and the extent to which it overlaps with far-right discourses. Alongside researching online anti-feminism, I am also interested in online pro-feminist men’s movements, how such movements differ from anti-feminist ones and how they align with the broader feminist movement.
Overall, I’m interested in the things that people do with language online, be that expressing their identities and orientations to gender and feminism, or thinking about how disruptive reproductive technologies could influence society as a whole. It’s exciting getting to research a whole range of sites, be that YouTube or Reddit or Tumblr, using a variety of qualitative and quantitative methods…but naturally, corpus linguistics often takes centre stage!