Text trajectories and media discourse
tracking gendered representations in presidential politics
Keywords:Gender, Intertextuality, Media Discourse, Politics, Text Trajectory, Women
During the Democratic nomination for President of the United States (2007-2008), Hillary Rodham Clinton’s laughter became the subject of intense scrutiny by mass media and was dubbed, The Clinton Cackle. This paper investigates how the ‘cackle’ characterization was first established, and thus, formed the basis of an intertextual series (Hodges, 2011), wherein this re-presentation of Clinton’s laughter circulated across multiple discursive contexts. By examining various dimensions of the decontextualization and recontextualization of Clinton’s laughter as it ‘travelled’ across contexts (Blommaert, 2005), the analysis illustrates how the news media effectively reshaped the kinds of meanings and values attached to it and concomitantly (re)produced and reinforced a stereotypically gendered, negative (i.e., sexist, misogynist) perception of her. The paper concludes with a discussion of the significance of tracing the trajectory of this ‘text’ in terms of the ideological nature of the intertextual processes at work, and the implications for women politicians more generally.
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