Donlan sails through her viva

Posted on December 8, 2020 by

Congratulations to Lisa Donlan who has just passed her PhD viva with no corrections! The examiners were LEL’s Maciej Baranowski and Sali Tagliamonte (Toronto).

Lisa’s PhD thesis, supervised by Maj-Britt Mosegaard Hansen and Andrea Nini, is on “Power, Innovation, and Language Diffusion in an Online Community of Practice“. Her research was on the spread of linguistic innovation in a Reddit online community on pop music called Popheads (1M posts, 32M words, 25K members, from 2015 to 2018). She studied the birth and development (in that community) of fascinating linguistic constructions such as “delete it fat” (= I disagree with your opinion) and “this is the tea” (= this is the truth or gossip). Because she had the entire community in its history, she was able to track down these developments from the beginning and concluded that in contrast to what is normally believed in offline communities, where innovators are peripheral members of the community, in online communities we perhaps have to revise this notion and instead focus on the central members. Or maybe we have to question our conclusions about communities at all, since it’s not possible to collect as much data for offline communities?

Lisa has published three articles and one book chapter during her PhD:

Donlan, Lisa. (2019). Constructing authorial pseudonyms and authorial identity in online fanfiction communities. Internet Pragmatics (John Benjamins). DOI: (Online First)

Donlan, Lisa. (2017). From <mrsniall-horan-until-the-end> to <keepingupwith1d>: Online usernames and identity in the One Direction fandom. Journal of Fandom Studies (Intellect), 5(3), 285-300. DOI:

Donlan, Lisa. (2016). Researching the etymology of Australian English colloquialisms in the digital age: Implications for 21st century lexicography. English Today (Cambridge University Press), 32(3), 40-44. DOI:

Donlan, Lisa. (in print). The control & censorship of linguistic resources in an online community of practice. In Daria Dayter & Sofia Rüdiger (eds.), Corpus Approaches to Social Media (Studies in Corpus Linguistics). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Lisa won no fewer than two scholarships for her PhD, both the AHRC North West Consortium Doctoral Training Partnership 1+3 MA and the ESRC North West Doctoral Training Centre 1+3 MA.

In addition to all these impressive research outputs, Lisa has also managed to deliver excellent teaching, much appreciated by the students. In 2019, she was nominated for the Outstanding Teaching Award, working as a Teaching Assistant for Forensic Linguistics and Variation and Change. She is working as a a teacher at the moment.

Bravo to Lisa! We’ll certainly be hearing more from her.

The featured photo is of Lisa’s viva. Note the clearly delighted expressions of the committee and the supervisors, while Lisa keeps her cool.