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Identities across Media and Modes: Discursive Perspectives

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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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SARA VILLA ‘Doctor Alton, What Is a Transvestite?’ The Discourses of Transvestism and Identity in Glen or Glenda by Ed Wood 355

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SARA VILLA ‘Doctor Alton, What is a Transvestite?’ The Discourses of Transvestism and Identity in Glen or Glenda by Ed Wood 1. Introduction: aims and method This study focuses on the first mainstream film ever produced in the United States on the phenomenology of transvestism. By applying Discourse Analysis to the script of the movie, our aim is to verify if the Ideological Discursive Formations (IDFs) (Fairclough 1992) of institutional medical literature1 have influenced the discourses of transvestism and identity in Glen or Glenda, directed by Ed Wood in 1953. If evidence is found that they have, a detailed analysis of the keywords, wording and lexis used to define cross-dressing in the film will enable us to shed light on the concept of transvestism underlying the movie and to point out its relationship with the hegemonic and heterosexist perspective which exclusively understands the phenome- non as a form of compulsive pathology. With regard to the theoretical approach adopted, of the various categories which characterize the method of Discourse Analysis as outlined by Fairclough in Discourse and Social Change (Fairclough 1992) we will privilege Ethos and thus focus on “the diversive features that go towards constructing ‘selves’ or social identities” 1 If, as defined by Fairclough, IDFs are “the ordered set of discursive practices associated with a particular domain or institution” (Fairclough 1992: 12), in this study we specifically refer to the IDFs belonging to medical discourses on gender dysphoria and transvestism from the beginning of the Twentieth century until...

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