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Title:Education and the Politics of Desire: A Semiotic Analysis of the Discourse on Male Homosexualities
Author(s):Barton, Richard William
Department / Program:Education
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Education, Social Sciences
Abstract:The role of education in the containment of homosexual desire is the topic of investigation. Specifically, the extent to which the objectivity of psychoeducational discourse on this topic is vitiated by its location within a larger discursive field is critically examined. A modified sociology of knowledge perspective is adopted in order to show that this discourse about homosexuality is produced within a larger societal concern with the patriarchal, heterosexual family. The discursive context of the population of knowledge about homosexual desire also includes an ambivalence about the body, a relative valorization of the male power position within society and, most importantly, a discursive bifurcation of desire into homosexual/heterosexual components with a corresponding bifurcation of sexual identity into homosexual and heterosexual positions.
The modification of the sociology of knowledge is derived from the body of theory and research known variously as structuralism, post-structuralism and semiotics. The history of structuralism is traced from its beginnings in the works of Levi-Strauss and Saussure through more recent contributions by the so-called post-structuralists including Derrida, Lacan, Kristeva and especially Foucault. Among the implications for the social sciences of this line of thought are the foregrounding and problematizing of language and ultimately the recognition that social science is itself a writing practice whose privileged status must be questioned. Semiotics--the general theory of signs and a paradigmatic derivative of the structuralist endeavor--has important contributions to make to the sociology of knowledge in that it reveals the role of language in the production of knowledge.
Psychoeducational knowledge about homosexuality is placed within the context of the discourse on homosexual desire in our civilization. A sampling of this discourse is analyzed using the semiotic approach. This sampling includes Freud's analysis of the Schreber case, Thomas Mann's novella, Death in Venice, and sex education manuals of the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It is concluded that the homosexual subject is an effect of these discourses and that psychoeducational discourse is no more objective, in this regard, than theoretical or fictional discourses. Implications for educational research and practice are discussed.
Issue Date:1982
Description:239 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1982.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI8218425
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-15
Date Deposited:1982

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