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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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LIDIA DE MICHELIS National Identity on the Web: The Discursive Politics of Icons. A Portrait of England 107

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LIDIA DE MICHELIS National Identity on the Web: The Discursive Politics of Icons. A Portrait of England 1. Introduction This chapter sets out to analyze the shift in discursive and representa- tional approaches which characterizes the British government’s current attempt to promote and embed a shared mood of ‘progressive nationalism’ (Goodhart 2006). Underlying this new mood is wide- spread concern about what tends to be seen as the ‘hijacking’ of the discourse of British – and, in particular, English – national identity by the extreme right since the European elections of 2004 and, with a vengeance, in the aftermath of the London terror attacks of July 7th, 2005. In the wake of Gordon Brown’s advocacy of the institution of a ‘British Day’ in his famous speech at the Fabian Society on January 14th, 2006,1 this effort, addressing explicitly the English but aiming in fact at cohering the whole country under a revived sense of national identity, has commanded controversial media coverage, and is still being heatedly debated across multiple public spheres. 1 Gordon Brown’s point was revived and elaborated on in a Fabian Society Report by Ruth Kelly, then Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, and Liam Byrne, at the time Minister of State for immigration and asylum (Kelly/Byrne 2007: 19-22). ‘Civic’ understandings of Britishness were also at the heart of the Review of Citizenship launched by Lord Gold- smith at the government’s request in October 2007 (available at ). Unless stated otherwise, all the websites referred to in this...

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