Date of Award

6-18-2011

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

English

First Advisor

Nancy Hayward, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Lilia Savova, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Robert Heasley, Ph.D.

Abstract

In order to highlight the ways in which language may be ideologically bound to specific performances of selves, this qualitative project examines the relationships between conceptualization, performance and revelation of queer sexualities by bi-lingual, English-speaking Japanese men and women and their experiences with English language and culture. Written, narrative auto-ethnographies in the form of linguistic and sexual literacy narratives were completed by 8 participant-researchers who were both originally from and living in Japan at the time of this project and who self-identified as gay, lesbian, or bisexual. Framed by theories of communities of practice, imagined communities and narrative identity construction, the auto-ethnographies were then analyzed by the authors and fellow participant-researchers in order to more deeply contextualize and deconstruct the writing in light of this project’s main research questions. Additionally, I completed a semantic analysis of all narratives and analyses in order to further highlight these writers’ affective stances towards languages and cultures, emotions which have influenced language acquisition motivation and sexual identity performances. Influenced by a feminist communitarian ethical framework, analyses of narratives proceeded using a set of questions collaboratively created by myself and the participantresearchers and revealed that conceptualization, performance, and revelation of human sexuality were all sensitive to exposure to English-speaking cultures and acquisition of English language, a phenomenon resulting in what I have termed “linguisticallycontextual sexual identity.” The degree to which a participant-researcher had acquired English language - for example, exposure, acquisition, regular use, and immersion – further influenced conceptualizations and performances of human sexualities. Moreover, semantic analysis revealed an overall positive affective stance towards English language and culture and an overall negative affective stance towards Japanese language and culture, suggesting that queer Japanese such as the researcher-participants in this project, may imagine English-language communities to be more accepting of sexual diversity than their Japanese-language communities and a safer space in which to perform and reveal their sexualities. This stance may also be correlated with motivation to acquire language; English is perceived as a tool for communication allowing for participation in international communities where sexual diversity is thought to be looked on more favorably. Such affective stances are likely due to the availability of Western, queer discourses, e.g. global queering, as well as an individual’s opportunities for international travel, employment, or study. This recognition of marginalization in comparison to knowledge of other queer, linguistic communities may result in the further development of an “activist stance,” the recognition that one’s personal behaviors could affect positive change in local communities.

Share

COinS