Date of Degree

6-2021

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

M.A.

Program

Women's and Gender Studies

Advisor

Linda Alcoff

Subject Categories

American Popular Culture | Feminist Philosophy | Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies | Women's Studies

Keywords

Media Analysis, Feminist Philosophy, Popular Culture, Queer Theory, Media Representation, Epistemology

Abstract

The push for diversity in media and literature has resulted in an increase in representation, at least on the surface. While the range of representation may have broadened in terms of subject identity – gender, sexuality, race, ability, etc. – the way this diversity has occurred has not necessarily encouraged ethical or allied development. The aim of my thesis is to develop and deploy five methods of feminist critique and analysis of representation in popular media. I begin by laying out the five methodologies, in a manner that allows for the use of these methods on other examples. Then, I display these methods in five arguments, each examining the widely read and viewed (and thus impactful) Game of Thrones franchise. First, I use the MBTI personality test to chart representation in the franchise, noting the impact of the under- or over-represented personality types on the constituted subject. Second, I use a Butlerian-concept of asymmetrical language to argue the loss of social critique in female hero roles. Third, I construct an epistemological category of queer experience to examine the detriment of queer narratives when developed by non-queer writers. Fourth, I argue the situation of the feminine as either 'place' or 'prize' in relation to the male hero, and the detrimental modern inclusion of rape to remove her from that cycle. And, finally, I engage with Serene Khader's seven commitments of missionary feminism to trace perpetuated narratives of white saviorism in fantasy worlds. I conclude with the argument that the ways that certain identity groups have been represented, in the midst of a push for diversity, have actually created detrimental representations that impact reader/viewer subject development.

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