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Generic intertextuality in online social activism: the case of the It Gets Better project

Jones, R. H. (2015) Generic intertextuality in online social activism: the case of the It Gets Better project. Language in Society, 44 (3). pp. 317-339. ISSN 0047-4045

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1017/S0047404515000214

Abstract/Summary

The It Gets Better project has been held up as a model of successful social media activism. This article explores how narrators of It Gets Better videos make use of generic intertextuality, strategically combining the canonical narrative genres of the exemplum, the testimony, and the confession in a way that allows them to claim ‘textual authority’ and to make available multiple moral positions for themselves and their listeners. This strategy is further facilitated by the ambiguous participation frameworks associated with digital media, which make it possible for storytellers to tell different kinds of stories to different kinds of listeners at the same time, to simultaneously comfort the victims of anti-gay violence, confront its perpetrators, and elicit sympathy from ‘onlookers’. This analysis highlights the potential of new practices of online storytelling for social activism, and challenges notions that new media are contributing to the demise of common narrative traditions.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Interdisciplinary centres and themes > Centre for Literacy and Multilingualism (CeLM)
Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Literature and Languages > English Language and Applied Linguistics
ID Code:47471
Publisher:Cambridge University Press

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