Date of Award

12-1-2011

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department

Applied Linguistics

First Advisor

Halliday, Dr. Laura

Second Advisor

Fuller, Dr. Janet

Abstract

Identity Performativity theory is relatively new to the field of linguistics and as such has been the subject of a growing number of research in linguistics. Most popularly, focus on performativity has been the discursive construction of gendered identity/identities. Though a number of studies have sought to examine the role language performance plays in construction, a surprising few have aimed to look at activities focused on the intentional creation and maintenance of identities in a specifically performative context such as: improvisational acting and roleplaying games. This study uses a social constructionist framework through discourse analysis to examine a community of practice centered around the performance of multiple roles during a 9 hour session of Dungeons and Dragons, a tabletop roleplaying game, in order to see what strategies players employed to call out specific gendered roles and what those strategies might assume about identity construction. Primarily, how does language choice illustrate the theory that identity is not only co-constructed, but that each person embodies a series of sometimes conflicting gender identities that are often contested? The results of the research show evidence that each person constructs for themselves and others not one, but multiple, identities in the course of conversation and often for different purposes.

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