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Peeking Out: A Textual Analysis of Heteronormative Female Images in Prime-Time Television

Smith, D. Renee
Committee Members: 
Dr. Catherine Luther
December 2009

Abstract: This dissertation traces lesbian portrayals on network television from the 1960s through the 1990s. A focus on episodic dramas and situation comedies reveals a concise representation of the mediated lesbian image. Building on existing research on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender images on television, this work focuses exclusively on the lesbian image broadcast free of charge over the air during prime-time on commercial networks in the United States. Using a postmodern feminist framework, this textual analysis examines the images and texts portraying lesbian characters in episodic dramas and situation comedies. Furthermore, applying a semiotic lens to the analysis dissects the voice and actions of lesbian characters illustrating the ways production techniques and narrative scripting work together to represent a lesbian image on television.