25th Mar 2015 4:00pm
E513, Checkland Building, Falmer Campus
Chrystie Myketiak, Queen Mary, University of London.
This talk discusses the communicative practice of cybersex and how it is discursively constructed. The analysis is based on naturally occurring, private conversations from an online chat community that is not sexual in scope or purpose. It is posited that cybersex participants co-construct narratives that differ from both standard dialogic and polyphonic narratives. The data demonstrate that participants shift between first-, second- and third-person reference forms. It is reasoned that the distinct narrative and style shifts serve as communicative functions in co-constructing a cybersex scene. Although participants rely on mutual engagement and linguistic reciprocity, there are notable gender differences in who constructs the ‘complicating action’ (cf. Labov, 1972) and who supports it through linguistic attentiveness (e.g., backchanneling) and responsiveness (e.g., mirroring). Ultimately it is argued that although cybersex narratives are co-constructed, they are also reflections and reifications of heteronormative ideologies of sex and gender, particularly with respect to sexual agency.