12. Language, Sexuality and Place: The View from Cyberspace
Brian W King [+]
University of Hong Kong
This study attempts to use space/place as a tool in discourse analysis, focusing on the immediate surroundings of interaction. It investigates the ongoing performance of sexualised place (and place-based sexuality) through the use of language in online chat-rooms. The central questions focus on how the shared imaginary of a room helps to shape the performances of genders and sexualities unfolding ‘there’ and how the gendered and sexualised discourses sexualise the room. Guided by the triangle of space model (Gotved, 2002, 2006), attention is paid to the chat rooms’ user interface, the spatial metaphor of the ‘room,’ and to participant interaction as part of the three dimensions of online spatiality. Analysis focuses on data taken from a corpus of computer-mediated chat-room interaction. These are queer places for performances (in this case) of non-heterosexual, masculine identities and desires, which are marginalized in our heteronormative society. Gotved’s model of online spatiality allows linguistic analysis to demonstrate that social understandings of space and place interact with individuals and communities on a mutually reformulating path.