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Identities across Media and Modes: Discursive Perspectives

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Edited By Giuliana Elena Garzone and Paola Catenaccio

The recognition that identity is mutable, multi-layered and subject to multiple modes of construction and de-construction has contributed to problematizing the issues associated with its representation in discourse, which has recently been attracting increasing attention in different disciplinary areas. Identity representation is the main focus of this volume, which analyses instances of multimedia and multimodal communication to the public at large for commercial, informative, political or cultural purposes. In particular, it examines the impact of the increasingly sophisticated forms of expression made available by the evolution of communication technologies, especially in computer-mediated or web-based settings, but also in more traditional media (press, cinema, TV). The basic assumption shared by all contributors is that communication is the locus where identities, either collective, social or individual, are deliberately constructed and negotiated.
In their variety of topics and approaches, the studies collected in this volume testify to the criticality of representing personal, professional and organizational identities through the new media, as their ability to reach a virtually unlimited audience amplifies the potential political, cultural and economic impact of discursive identity constructions. They also confirm that new highly sophisticated media can forge identities well beyond the simply iconic or textual representation, generating deeply interconnected webs of meaning capable of occupying an expanding – and adaptable – discursive space.

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GIULIANA GARZONE / PAOLA CATENACCIO Discursive Perspectives on Identities across Media and Modes: An Introduction 9

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GIULIANA GARZONE / PAOLA CATENACCIO Discursive Perspectives on Identities across Media and Modes: An Introduction 1. The construction of identity in discourse The essays collected in this volume deal with the representation of identities in environments characterized by the combination of various modes and media. Most of them were presented at the international conference ‘Discourse and Identity in Specialized Discourse’ held at Gargnano del Garda (Brescia, Italy) on 24-26 June 2007, while others are invited contributions that have been added to complete the general outline of the book. The main focus of the collection is on the strategies used to represent identities in mediatised communication, as all the chapters included deal with the representation of collective or individual entities – from whole countries and corporations to individual pro- fessionals and private citizens – through various types of media, be they based on computer or web technologies, or on more traditional [originally] non-electronic forms of communication (press, cinema, TV). The basic shared assumption, which incidentally underlies much research conducted in a discourse analytical perspective today, is that language and discourse can never be really neutral and ideology-free (cf. e.g. Garzone/Sarangi 2007). Not only does discourse bear traces of the speaker’s individual and social identities that surface spontane- ously in linguistic interaction, but communication is also the locus where identities are deliberately constructed and negotiated. Giuliana Garzone / Paola Catenaccio 10 1.1. Approaches to research on identity and the media The need for identity negotiation is particularly evident in the contem- porary post-modern globalised...

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