Panel "Queering Communication and Media Studies"

 RATIONALE:

The Queering Communication and Media Studies aims at introducing to the field of Communication and Media Studies both theoretical approaches and applied case-studies inspired by Queer Theory, which, to a large extent, is still in its onset at national level. Born out of interdisciplinarity and multidisciplinarity, very much like Cultural Studies and Communication and Media Studies, Women’s Studies, Feminist and Gender Studies and Gay and Lesbian Studies, Queer Theory has open the path to extremely productive, insightful, groundbreaking methodological approaches and lines of research that have been earning due recognition in academe and the scientific community at large. The vast width of the scope of Communication and Media Studies provides for an immense field of research objects and topics, covering the media, the arts, the specific areas of psychology, sociology, anthropology, history and technology of communication, to which an entire array of analytic tools and theoretical notions inspired by Queer Theory can be applied. The papers presented in this symposium all testify to this, extending from an exam of the visibility of BDSM in popular culture and its coverage by the press, an inquiry on the ambivalence of media images of Portugal both as bearer of progress and modernity and as a backward catholic country concerning the portraying of the gay couple in press and TV debates, and the deconstruction of stereotyped ways of portraying both masculinity and femininity in costumes in ethnographic cinema from the standpoint of the intersection between queer theory and fashion theory.        

CHAIRS – António Fernando Cascais and João Manuel de Oliveira

 


Abstracts

Homonormativity in Portuguese media: tales of progress, tales of belatedness

João Manuel de Oliveira (CIS - Instituto Universitário de Lisboa)

 

Research on homonormativity focuses on the way how LGBT communities uphold, sustain and seek inclusion in heteronormative institutions and values. The homonormativity hypothesis implies an analysis of uses of queer rights, the clashes between formal and practical equality and the way how different stakeholders within the LGBT community get privileged over others. From the side of State, this analysis implies also an attention to the uses of images of the country as modern, open and tolerant. This paper identifies both patterns in media images (on the press and on tv debates) of the gay couple and on the image of Portugal as bearers of this mark of progress and modernity, vis-à-vis the traditional image of the country, catholic and ‘backward’. Both repertoires will be revisited using a discourse analysis that equates the ambivalences and the shadow areas of these discourses and the heteronormative silences they reveal. 

 

 


Rocky Horror Picture Show as a meaning system in the complicated universe of gender

Caterina Cucinotta (Centro de Estudos de Comunicação e Linguagens - Universidade Nova de Lisboa)

 

Fashion can play with gender identity, that is to say, with the stereotyped ways of portraying male, female and the challenges to the dominant discourse conveyed by the signs of the body. The 1975 movie Rocky Horror picture show, by Jim Sharman, would be an exemplary declaration of the vulnerable boundaries between femininity and masculinity in the post 1968 society. The construction of strangeness is always accompanied by gender stereotypes coming from culture, literature and art. Patrizia Calefato’s notion of the clothed body (1986) defines the physical-cultural territory in which the visible, perceivable performance of our outward identity takes place. This composite cultural text-fabric provides opportunities for the manifestation of individual and social traits that draw on such elements as gender, taste, ethnicity, sexuality, sense of belonging, transgression. This research can open an interesting debate about femininities and masculinities representation in the media, particularly cinema.

 

 


The voyeuristic fascination of sexual alterity: BDSM and kink representations in Portuguese journalism

 

Daniel Cardoso (CESNOVA - Universidade Nova de Lisboa / CICANT - Universidade Lusófona de Humanidades e Tecnologias)

Mafalda Mota (Faculdade de Psicologia e Ciências da Educação - Universidade do Porto)

 

The past few years have given way to greater visibility of BDSM as a theme in popular culture, and press coverage of BDSM/kink in Portugal has been sporadic but consistent in the past decade. Following Margot Weiss’ analysis of the American coverage of the same topic, we analyze the journalistic methods by which BDSM/kink is represented in a convenience sample gathered in mainstream newsmagazines and newspapers. By constantly interviewing members of the Portuguese BDSM community, these articles give voice to a closeted sexual minority, but by framing their discourse as Other, it manages to uphold the borders between normative and non-normative sexualities, while providing the readers with voyeuristic pleasure. Academic (psychological) discourse is also a constant, with the double role of serving as assurance of non-pathology and yet reinforcing the privileged role of the psy sciences in making sexuality ‘speak’.

 


Looking for identity in the paradox. An approach to intermedia-arts

Sónia Pina (Centro de Estudos Sociais - Universidade de Coimbra / Centro de Estudos de Comunicação e Linguagens - Universidade Nova de Lisboa)

 

Interactivity was once a useful term for distinguishing art that has been influenced and shaped by a media-saturated and computerized contemporary world from. However, interactivity has a dual interest, because it  is a mode of engagement not only between people and machines or between machines, but between ourselves. In the 1960s, interactivity was seen as a cultural 'novum'. Performers, in conceptual, pop, body, and video art, began to explore awkwardness, improvisation, space and time, and game effects. Their goal was to open new paths for thought with a standardized aesthetic codex, based on a mainstream model of representation. The paradigm of interactivity applied to arts brought about an alternative model of cognition that emerges from the intersection of different areas. From happenings to closed-circuit videos and from environments to interactive installations, 'inter-media arts' emerge as a meta-interactive-poetic-process-based form of art that generates indeterminacy, “incompleteness”, immersion and "indecidibility" zones of significance.