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Dissertation Defense: Mary-Caitlyn Valentinsson


Aug 5 2019 - 10:30am

Monday, August 5, 2019
10:30 am
Social Science, Room 312

Title: Language Use and Global Media Circulation Among Argentine Fans of English Mass Media

Abstract: Sociolinguists and linguistic anthropologists have long been interested in how different ways of speaking take on different social meanings, and how these different ways of using language circulate throughout a community. Mass media and popular culture are important driving forces behind such circulation, but research investigating such circulation has typically focused on how media and pop culture from within a particular social group circulates in that same group or closely related groups. This dissertation considers what happens to social meaning when language and other semiotic material circulates to new sociolinguistic contexts, especially through processes of globalization, and the rising use of social media technologies for transnational communication. Specifically, this work presents an analysis of language use and ideologies among Argentine members of fan communities of English-language media.

As a result of the historically imperialist relationships between Argentina and Great Britain, the English language has long been considered an index of upper-class elitism. Now, as discourses of “English as a/the global language” become more entrenched in Argentina (as in other parts of the world), it has also come to index positively-valued notions of middle-class upward social mobility, education, and a cosmopolitan lifestyle. Fans of Anglophone media products—such as television shows, films, books, and more—must contend with both of these sets of meanings when they talk about or make reference to the media they consume. Through both online and offline ethnographic research, this dissertation shows how Argentine fans of Anglophone media and pop culture make sense of these contrasting social meanings, and the role that the linguistic and semiotic material from Anglophone media and pop culture play in their everyday lives. Broadly, this analysis helps us better understand how global, transnational flows of linguistic and semiotic material are re-imagined and given new meaning in local contexts.

Committee:  Dr. Qing Zhang (Co-Chair, Anthropology), Dr. Heidi Harley (Co-Chair, Linguistics), Dr. Ana María Carvalho (Spanish & Portuguese), Dr. Jen Roth-Gordon (Anthropology)

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