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ERIC Number: ED513317
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 393
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-1092-8142-2
The Re-Education of Desire: The Role of Narrative in Religious-Based Sexual Identity Transformation
Heintzelman, Lori Susan
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Colorado at Boulder
This dissertation, as a qualitative sociolinguistic analysis, focuses on the use of narrative in identity transformation and sustainment. In particular, it examines the language of those involved in the fashioning of "ex-gay" sexual identity. Such identity work is conducted largely within religious ministries. Particular to evangelical Christianity and this dissertation is the umbrella organization "Exodus International", whose mission is "Proclaiming to educating, and impacting the world with the biblical truth that freedom from homosexuality is possible when Jesus is Lord of one's life" ( In order to understand the process of transformation, I analyze the content and structure of personal testimonies as well as master narrative discourse as it materializes in group settings and in print materials. "Ex-gay" identity identification involves a re-education process invoking a modern blend of religious and scientific authority. Non-normative sexuality is conceptualized and constructed linguistically as a byproduct of faulty gender development. The sexual "struggler" incorporates this explanation into his or her life experiences, such that a new identity is constituted in narrative. Using ethnographic methods of data collection and Bucholtz and Hall's "Tactics of Intersubjectivity" (2004, 2005a, 2005b, 2008) as my primary theoretical framework, I show how identities are created by processes of positioning self and others along the dimensions of similarity and difference, authenticity and fraudulence, and social authorization and invalidation. I also appeal to narrative and performance theories that explain how testimonial narrative meets psychological and social needs, which at the same time satisfies biblical mandates. The topic of this dissertation is of interest to sociocultural linguists in at least two ways. On the one hand, it explores a timeless phenomenon: namely, the linguistic processes whereby social identity is formed and altered. But it also highlights a very timely cultural phenomenon: the battle over how a particular identity--in this case, homosexual--should be viewed and handled. As such, it contributes to an understanding of how language is used to create and sustain rather polarized perceptions. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A