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Queerly Remembered: Tactical and Strategic Rhetorics for Representing the GLBTQ past

Dunn, Thomas R. (2011) Queerly Remembered: Tactical and Strategic Rhetorics for Representing the GLBTQ past. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This dissertation explores a turn toward strategic public memories in the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer (GLBTQ) community. While GLBTQ people have long used memories to influence and persuade heterosexual audiences, these memories have largely been what Michel de Certeau labels tactical - fleeting, ephemeral texts built upon the detritus of dominant culture. In contrast, GLBTQ people increasingly deploy strategic memories that endure heterosexual forgetting, persist through time, and exert greater control in spaces of power. In four case studies, I examine the possibilities and pitfalls of the strategic turn for securing greater GLBTQ rights. The first case study examines the Alexander Wood statue and how gays and lesbians have used material rhetorics like commemorative sites to make their memories durable and to resist heteronormative forgetting. While highlighting Wood's "official" meaning, I also demonstrate how both traditionalist and camp viewers of the statue contest that meaning through performative viewing practices. The second case study, on counterpublic memories of bias crime victim Matthew Shepard, illustrates how counterpublic memories can oscillate between public spheres. In doing so, vernacular memories of Shepard seek to replace dominant memories that obscure systemic antigay violence, endow Shepard with "saintly" qualities, and limit diverse imagining of GLBTQ identity. The third case study, featuring efforts to include GLBT people into California public school curriculums, examines how advocates use a "rhetoric of contribution" to align GLBT people with the strategic rhetoric of American nationalism. This case also highlights the difficult choices marginalized groups must often make to enter strategic spaces, including "strategic forgettings" that render much of the GLBT past incomplete. The final case study details gay and lesbian rhetorical acts to ensure they are remembered as queer in the future. Examining two prominent death displays - Leonard Matlovich's Gay Vietnam Veterans Memorial and Patricia Cronin's Memorial to a Marriage - this chapter argues that both marked and unmarked strategies are required to disrupt the reterritorialization of gay and lesbian identity after death. This dissertation concludes by looking at George Segal's Gay Liberation statue, reviewing the value of the strategic turn, and pondering the future of queer public memory.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Dunn, Thomas R.trd23@pitt.eduTRD23
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairOlson, Lesterolson@pitt.eduOLSON
Committee MemberLyne, Johnjlyne@pitt.eduJLYNE
Committee MemberSavage, Kirkksa@pitt.eduKSA
Committee MemberZboray, Ronald Jzboray@pitt.eduZBORAY
Date: 8 June 2011
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 18 April 2011
Approval Date: 8 June 2011
Submission Date: 21 April 2011
Access Restriction: 5 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 5 years.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Communication: Rhetoric and Communication
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: gay; monument; public memory; rhetoric; memory; queer
Other ID:, etd-04212011-154650
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:40
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:41


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