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