Date of Degree

9-2019

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Program

Linguistics

Advisor

Cecelia Cutler

Committee Members

Jillian Cavanaugh

Michael Newman

Subject Categories

Anthropological Linguistics and Sociolinguistics | Discourse and Text Linguistics | Linguistics

Keywords

Critical Discourse Analysis, Queer Linguistics, Systemic-Functional Linguistics, identity, computer-mediated communication

Abstract

Drawing on a seven-year corpus of data (total words N = 86,881) on a publicly-accessible messageboard on which self-identified gay men discuss their experiences undergoing erotic hypnosis, this study applies Critical Discourse Analysis methods to understand how posters understand their sexual identities and those of others. This study identifies the emergence of two main identity-types at-play on OnYourKnees: the jock and the coach. Jocks are generally characterized by a focus on sports and body-consciousness, a disinterest or inability to engage in scholarly/academic pursuits, and a desire to be submissive to others to achieve sexual pleasure. Coaches, on the other hand, are characterized by wisdom, dominance, and a desire to hypnotize others. Using Fairclough’s (1992) three-axis methodology for analyzing the relationships among language, ideology, and power, this study analyzes how participants on OnYourKnees simultaneously overlap numerous ideological frames, each with their own conceptions of power, onto their senses of Self and Other. On one level, jocks and coaches engage in identity practices largely congruent with ideologies of Americanized hegemonic masculinity, which stress the development of a single type of masculinity that is seen as paramount to all others. Through this framework, self-identified jocks and coaches create and maintain a binary-structure system that places some men (coaches) in positions of power, and others (jocks) in positions of willing subordination. This is demonstrated through an in-depth qualitative analysis of posts on OnYourKnees, the development of a specific ‘direct’ style of hypnotic trance that places listeners in positions of limited agency, and the deployment of orthographic tools that index self-identified jocks and coaches (analyzed using Halliday and Mathiessen’s [2004] Systemic-Function Linguistics). On the other hand, participants simultaneously align with a bondage/discipline/sadism/masochism (BDSM) ideology that stresses the importance of consent among all participants involved, and places both jocks and coaches on ideologically equal footing. Ultimately, this study demonstrates how Critical Discourse Analysis-inspired methodologies can be used to identify how multiple ideologies can be interwoven with identity construction to create and maintain complex subject positions.

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