Zottola, Angela (2017) Transgender in the Spotlight. The Other-representation of Transgender People in the British Press: A Corpus-based Discourse Analysis. [Tesi di dottorato]


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Item Type: Tesi di dottorato
Lingua: English
Title: Transgender in the Spotlight. The Other-representation of Transgender People in the British Press: A Corpus-based Discourse Analysis
Zottola, Angelaangelazottola88@gmail.com
Date: 19 December 2017
Number of Pages: 200
Institution: Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II
Department: dep26
Dottorato: phd056
Ciclo di dottorato: 30
Coordinatore del Corso di dottorato:
Striano, Mauramaura.striano@unina.it
Date: 19 December 2017
Number of Pages: 200
Uncontrolled Keywords: Transgender identity, British press, CBDA, discourse prosodies, social actors representation
Settori scientifico-disciplinari del MIUR: Area 10 - Scienze dell'antichità, filologico-letterarie e storico-artistiche > L-LIN/12 - Lingua e traduzione - lingua inglese
Date Deposited: 19 Dec 2017 11:24
Last Modified: 15 Apr 2019 09:16
URI: http://www.fedoa.unina.it/id/eprint/12260


In the last decade, the construction of transgender identities has been increasingly raising interest in scholars in the field of (socio)linguistics (Kulick 1996, 1999, 2000; Zimman 2009, 2010, 2014; Baker 2014b) and, more in general, in society as a whole, due to the considerable attention drawn by public episodes in the social, cultural and legal spheres, such as the transition of former athlete Caitlyn Jenner in the USA, the various transgender soldiers involved in public affairs in the last few years, like Chelsea Manning, or even the complex issue regarding gender-neutral toilets, which raised discussions globally. In our society, where gender diversity has grown as a highly discussed topic, language, due to its social function, may take on a significant role in shaping and representing new gendered communities of practice. The existing binary and heteronormative linguistic categories, generally used in defining gender, are clashing with the current, so far unrepresented and now emerging communities, possibly leading to the creation of new hybrid, inclusive, non-discriminating discourses that comprise social, cultural and legal issues. On the basis of this popularity, the press works as one of the most visible actors in the creation of these discourses. That is why it became the primary focus for the collection of the corpus under scrutiny in this investigation. The geographical area investigated, the United Kingdom, was chosen as it represents one of the countries that first introduced the world to the discussion about transgender identities raised by the above-mentioned Manning case. Chelsea Manning, a transgender woman, and former soldier of the US army, had been accused of leaking sealed documents to WikiLeaks, convicted and sent to a male prison, which put under the spotlight the issue of placing transgender people in gender-appropriate prisons. Against this backdrop, the aim of this study is to investigate how transgender individuals and their communities are shaped in and through language, starting from the premise that language may profoundly influence the way gender is understood by society, being one of the most powerful means of manipulation, through which it is possible to persuade and even instill specific beliefs or convictions. iii The corpus collected to pursue the aim of this investigation comprises eight British national newspapers, namely The Guardian, the i, The Daily Telegraph, The Times, the Daily Express, the Daily Mail, the Daily Mirror and The Sun. The newspapers were selected on the grounds of their circulation rates and retrieved from the UK Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC 2015). Apart from distribution percentages, the other criterion followed in the selection of the newspapers was that of equally representing one of the dichotomies the British press is often defined by, that is, the distinction between quality and popular press (Jucker 1992). In fact, the first four newspapers (The Guardian, the i, The Daily Telegraph and The Times) can be considered as representative of the first category whilst the others (the Daily Express, the Daily Mail, the Daily Mirror and The Sun) as belonging to the second. The news articles were collected in a time span that stretches from January 2013 to December 2015. The starting point was dictated by the diffusion of one major event that channelled the discussion about transgender identities, the above-mentioned Manning case, whilst the collection ended in 2015, the year in which this research project was conceived. Except for rubrics advertising the weekly television, cinema and theatre schedules, different genres of news articles were included in the corpus (i.e., news stories, editorials, etc.), for a total of 3,138 news articles and over 2 million word tokens. For the purpose of this analysis, the TransCor (i.e., the entire corpus) was divided into two sub-corpora: the QualCor and the PopCor, each comprising all news articles from the quality press and the popular press respectively. The main corpus analysis tool used for the research is AntConc 3.4.4m (Anthony 2014), as explained in sub-section 4.2.1. As demonstrated by numerous scholars (Baker & McEnery 2005; Baker 2006, 2010, 2012; Bednarek 2006; Baker, Gabrielatos & McEnery 2013a; Partington 2015), Corpus Linguistics has proven to be noticeably useful and, at times, a necessary tool for the analysis of large amounts of data in order to uncover linguistic and semantic patterns in the representations of social categories, minority groups or even individuals who managed to attract the attention of society upon them. The purpose of this research – to highlight those linguistic and semantic patterns utilized in the representation of transgender people in the British press – has been achieved through a combination of theoretical and methodological frameworks, including not iv only Corpus Linguistics but also Critical Discourse Analysis, Language, Gender and Sexuality, and News Discourse. Drawing upon the framework of Critical Discourse Analysis (Fairclough 1995, 2005; Wodak 1997; Bucholtz 2003; van Leeuwen 2005) and the use of Corpus Linguistics methodologies (McEnery and Wilson 1996; Baker 2006, 2014a; McEnery and Hardie 2011), this study presents the final outcomes of a research that focuses on the representation of transgender people in the British press as social actors, and the semantic prosodies (Sinclair 1991; Louw 1993; Stubbs 1996; Partington 1998; Hunston 2007; Partington, Duguid and Taylor 2013) constructed discursively. The findings indicate a difference in the representation of transgender people in the quality and the popular press, specifically in the use of terminology and, generally speaking, about the semantic prosody surrounding the topic. The collocation analysis highlights, for example, that while in many cases transgender people are represented as victims in the QualCor, they are assigned an active role as perpetrators of violence in the PopCor. One of the most impressive results emerging from the analysis of the two sub-corpora relates to the use of the terms transgender and transsexual, shifting towards a more inclusive rhetoric in the last year (2015). The investigation has shown that the two terms transgender and transsexual were initially used both as adjectives and as nouns, a function, the latter, which is disliked by many transgender individuals, as we point out in the thesis, drawing upon the guidelines for nondiscriminatory language considered in this investigation. This trend tends to decrease in the following years, and the two terms, improperly used as synonyms or nouns, starts to be used as adjectives more and more often (see chapter five). The analysis also focused on the use of pronouns and pre- and post-modifiers. Another aspect of the analysis focuses on the results emerging from the collocation analysis which points to the use of semantic categories of representation to which transgender people are associated to in the press (see chapter six and seven).


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