Monday, 22 October 2012

'How Gay is Football this Year?'

Liz Morrish recently gave a paper at the Queering Paradigms IV conference (with Helen Sauntson, University of Birmingham) exploring how 'desire' operates within women's Varsity football.
Their paper starts by considering arguments from Bucholtz and Hall (2004; 2005), Morrish and Leap (2006) Morrish and Sauntson (2007) about how sexual identity emerges in context, is done relationally (i.e. between interactants) and can be linguistically signalled in various ways. Differences in culture, class, gender and race all coalesce in the production of sexually dissident identity. Bucholtz and Hall’s (2004; 2005) ‘intersubjective tactics’ framework offers a clear framework of analysis for the study of language and sexual identity. The framework is informed by aspects of queer theory and sociolinguistic theory. The framework sits well within the sociolinguistic Communities of Practice framework advocated by Eckert ( 2000) and further developed by Eckert and Wenger (2005). Queer theory reminds us that identity is not fixed, but permeable. The framework focuses analysis on three different dimensions of intersubjective enactment of identity:  adequation and distinction; authentication and denaturalisation; authorisation and illegitimation -- through which identity is intersubjectively constructed in local contexts of language use.

In this paper, they applied the tactics of intersubjectivity framework to data from conversations within a women’s football team, comprising a number of straight, questioning, bisexual and newly out lesbians. In the data, desire is constantly evoked as a way of performing adeqaution and distinction, and in this, simultaneously doing the work of identity in this context. They suggest that in a context where sexual identity is highly salient, unfixed and eroticised, desire becomes the vehicle and proxy for the signalling of adequation, authentication and authorization. In this way, enthusiastic expressions of heterosexuality, bisexuality and homosexuality reveal a celebration of sexual discovery in late adolescence, together with experimentation with the limits of tolerance. 

Liz Morrish (Nottingham Trent University, UK) and Helen Sauntson (University of Birmingham UK), “How gay is football this year?” Desire as adequation and distinction in a women’s Varsity football team, Queering Paradigms IV conference (Rio di Janeiro), July 2012.


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