Dan Savage, the Seattle-based author, has been writing his advice for column for twenty years and it is syndicated in more than seventy newspapers, primarily in alternative weeklies in the United States, with well over one million in total circulation. Despite his popularity, a scholarly critical analysis of his writing and the views that he advocates has never been conducted. "In a culture that is determined to restrict talk about sex, and particularly those sexual practices that are labeled 'taboo,'" advice columns provide a "widely available and culturally mainstream venue for talking, learning, and debating issues of sexuality" (Gudelunas, 2005). I seek to analyze this unique space where sexual behavior and sexual identity/orientation is openly discussed. In particular, questions of how sexual behaviors shape the letter writers' understanding of their sexual identity will be examined. While my research question is still undefined, I hope to examine how Dan Savage's response to the letters influences the normalizing of deviant sexual behaviors in society, and how his use of common sexual scripts serves to construct socially “appropriate” sexual acts, bodies, and behaviors, thereby also constructing “inappropriate” acts, bodies and behaviors. This is a new project and over the course of the LARC program, I hope to 1) conduct a literature review and 2) conduct the content analysis.
LARC: Faculty & Staff - Jade Aguilar
Liberal Arts Research Collaborative
900 State StreetSalem Oregon 97301 U.S.A.