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Analysing queer student media using a combined queer theoretical and media studies approach. Jessica Rodgers PhD Student School of Media, Communication.

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Presentation on theme: "Analysing queer student media using a combined queer theoretical and media studies approach. Jessica Rodgers PhD Student School of Media, Communication."— Presentation transcript:

1 Analysing queer student media using a combined queer theoretical and media studies approach. Jessica Rodgers PhD Student School of Media, Communication and Journalism

2 Australian Queer Student Activist Media Minority media can contribute to the constitution of community and identity. A space where community works to define itself, making it a rich site for the study of community understandings. This research enables queer student activism to be better understood. This adds to the genealogy of queer.

3 Queer theory and Media Studies An absence of research combining queer theory and Media Studies. My research is grounded in a queer theoretical perspective of identity performativity. Queer theoretical approaches to the study of media products fail to consider the material contexts which contribute to their construction. My project contributes to queer media scholarship by using a methodology to address the gaps that Cover identifies.

4 Theoretical Perspective: Queer Theory and Media Studies For Butler, identity cannot be understood outside of gender – people only gain an intelligible identity through gender (Butler 1990: 16). Gendered identity, as an effect of compulsory heterosexuality, is thus limited by the available modes for ‘doing’ (gender) identity. These limited modes are the discursive practices available to ‘do’ (gender) identity. Cover suggests that the recognition a subject experiences while reading a text is ‘always a re-cognition (or re-thinking) of that subject’s sexuality ‘in accord’ with the significations of the hetero/homo binary’ (2002, p.115, emphasis in original).

5 Theoretical Perspective: Queer Theory and Media Studies Driver emphasises the use of this approach, stating that ‘framing youth in terms of queer performative cultural and political engagements … refocuses attention onto active production and deployment of discourses by youth themselves’ (2008: 10). By applying Performativity Theory to the circulation of discourses amongst queer students and queer student media, it can be seen that, quoting Boucher ‘the culturally-scripted … is generated … through repeated citations of norms and their transgression’ (Boucher 2006: 141) – in this case, the culturally-scripted understandings of queer, the performatives of queerness.

6 Methodology Richard Ericson, Patricia Baranek and Janet Chan speak of the importance of considering the contextual settings of what is being studied: ‘Thinking must be regarded as a social process as well as an individual one, in which people actively manipulate cultural forms to sustain their activities. An ethnography of thought requires a description of the contexts in which the thought or knowledge in use, makes sense’ (1987: 74). Gaye Tuchman states that ‘news is both a permanent social structure and a means of social reflexivity and contestation; a product as well as a productive process’ (2002: 90). Thus, the ‘process and the product must both be understood to appreciate the nature of news as knowledge’ (Ericson, Baranek and Chan 1987: 74).

7 Defining queer in queer student media: ‘an umbrella term for those who identify but may not be limited to intersex, transgendered, bisexual/polyamourous, same sex/multisex, lesbian/dyke/woman identified woman, gay/poofter/faggot, and/or other culturally marginal sexual self- identifications’ (Barreto 2004); ‘all same sex attracted, transgender and transsexual people’ (Thomson 2003: 36); ‘those questioning their sexuality and/or gender, and anybody else who doesn’t identify as “straight” or “gender normative” ’ (Monash University Queer Collective 2005), and ‘anyone (hetero, fag, woman, intersex, pansexual, homo, bi, man, boi, trans…) who rejects heterosexuality as the only normal sexual expression’ (Ettling 2005).

8 Defining queer in queer student media:  Pansexuality and heterosexuality are also included.  The statements ‘muff diving, whip worshipping, arse licking, gender bending punks’ (We Are Queer! 2003) and ‘people who perform practices which challenge heteronormative assumptions of … desire such as … bondage and discipline, sadomasochism, and/or autoeroticsm, can choose to identify as queer’ (Barreto 2004) speak of differences in practice.  Some of these also allow for the inclusion of individuals who have heterosexual sex.  The significance of gender differences, as part of queer identity, is evident in articles exploring transgenderism and transsexuality and other non-binary performatives of gender.

9 Tallace: I know that when I was editing this, when I was doing the call out and making the promo posters and everything, I had this great image which was of a rose smeared in Vaseline which was very like ‘cuntish’ … So I was consciously trying to make queer a bit confronting … it was an intense picture. I guess I was consciously trying to make it ‘cuntish’ and confronting particularly to gay men. I guess that’s an editorial decision I made. Interviewer: Yeah definitely. Do you feel that came out in the final publication? Kind of. Yeah? It was weird, yeah no it did. There were plenty of submissions from women and… So you consciously tried to make it inclusive especially in terms of women? I don’t think it was inclusivity that I was aiming for. I think if anything, I wanted to alienate a certain kind of person... I mean you could say the converse that I wanted to inspire another kind of person to submit. But I guess it wasn’t a friendly space ever for someone who wanted to write, like anything particularly, anything that I didn’t agree with … anything that I thought wasn’t queer.


11 ‘Queer ethnographic approaches can and should blur the boundaries between social scientific and humanities approaches to the study of the everyday, gender, and sexuality, by making use of, for example, Butler’s theory of gender performativity and by probing it in the light of empirical inquiry’ (2007: 55).



14 Preliminary findings  Images of text examples being cited


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