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Title: The representation of same-sex parents in children's picturebooks : a corpus-assisted multimodal critical discourse analysis
Author: McGlashan, Mark
ISNI:       0000 0004 6421 8914
Awarding Body: Lancaster University
Current Institution: Lancaster University
Date of Award: 2015
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This thesis presents a descriptive and critical analysis of a representative corpus of picturebooks (52 picturebooks containing 58 stories with a total of 55,319 words) written for children and published in the English language between 1983 and 2012 that feature representations of families with same-sex - i.e. gay or lesbian - parents/caregivers. The majority of these books were published in the USA and UK, but others were also found published in Canada, Australia, or online without details of the country in which they were published. I refer to this unique corpus of rare and controversial picturebooks as the same- sex parent family (SSPF) corpus. The picturebook is a kind of text produced and socially linked specifically to children that combines written language and images in novel ways in order to construct and convey meaning. In their short history of publication SSPF picturebooks have become some of the most requested-to-be-banned books of modern times and have attracted a great deal of controversy. In this thesis I investigate how gay and lesbian sexualities are constructed and represented in SSPF picturebooks, and how those representations and constructions relate to the wider social situation of gay and lesbian sexualities. In doing so, this thesis gives, for the first time, a representative account of the ways in which lesbian and gay sexualities are represented in SSPF picturebooks. The thesis draws on a range of theory and methods from the areas of Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA), Multimodality, Social Semiotics, and Corpus Linguistics (CL), and proposes a novel multimethodological approach to the study of a fairly large collection of multimodal texts. Combining approaches from CDA, Multimodality and Social Semiotics in the analysis of multimodal texts has already proven extremely effective in the analysis of multimodal texts - especially political texts - and are all rooted in the traditions of critical linguistics. This thesis thus situates itself in relation to Multimodal Critical Discourse Analysis (MCDA) and Multimodal Corpus Linguistics as emergent analytical approaches. The major innovation of the thesis is the presentation of cullustration as an innovative theoretical and methodological approach to collocation between semiotic elements in multimodal texts. Whereas the core CL method of collocation is used to analyse consistent co-occurrence between i various linguistic units, collustration aims to widen the focus of CL methods to multimodal texts and take into account consistent co-occurrence of features occurring in several modes in the same text. Findings of the research suggest that SSPF picturebooks attempt to challenge and counter dominant negative stereotypes of gay and lesbian people and related homophobic discourses that lead to social exclusion and opposition to the books. They also include discourses intended to celebrate differences in (family) identity. However, the findings also suggest that SSPFs are represented in largely (homo)normative ways, upholding traditional notions of the nuclear family, as well as perpetuating some gender stereotypes. While the books thus aim to counter homophobia, in presenting gay and lesbian care-givers as 'normal' and barely different from heterosexual care-givers, the books could be viewed as backgrounding a potentially wider range of gay and lesbian identities.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available