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Negotiating Queer Female Identities: Reading and Reception of Showtime's "The L-Word"

Mass Media and Communication / Ph.D. / The past decade has witnessed an increase in queer-themed television. Cable networks, including Bravo, HBO, Showtime, and most recently LOGO, have also begun writing and airing programming with queer characters in the primary roles as well as focusing on themes relating to the gay community. Shows, such as Queer as Folk and The L-Word, while primarily written for a queer viewing audience, have been mass marketed and have had strong viewership outside of the queer community. The L-Word is unique in that it is the first show to focus on the lives and relationships of non-heterosexual women, thus making it the first show to subvert gendered and sexual norms relating to the female sex/gender.
Using ethnography, this study builds upon previous textual analyses by examining how audiences of Showtime's The L-Word construct and interpret queer female identities. The problem is not of accurate representations in media, but rather, the necessity of understanding constructions of gender and sexual expression and representation. In addition, it is necessary to examine how audiences negotiate media texts about oppressed identities and if these negotiations help to perpetuate dominant ideals regarding gender, gender roles, and heterosexuality. This study analyzes how viewers' individual experiences and ideologies help to construct their own identities and their negotiation of television images and texts, and how new modes of understanding influence social relations concerning gender and sexuality difference. Inspired by the works of discourse, feminist, and queer theory, this study examines audience interpretations constructed about the queer female community after viewing The L-Word. / Temple University--Theses
Date January 2009
CreatorsKern, Rebecca Lynne
ContributorsDarling-Wolf, Fabienne; Kitch, Carolyn L., Maynard, Michael L.; Gratson, Scott; Bacon, Jennifer
PublisherTemple University Libraries
Source SetsTemple University
Detected LanguageEnglish
FormatApplication/PDF, 311, 1,274 KB
RightsThe author has granted Temple University a limited, non-exclusive, royalty-free license to reproduce his or her dissertation, in whole or in part, in electronic or paper form and to make it available to the general public at no charge. This permission is granted in addition to rights granted to ProQuest. The author retains all other rights.

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