A decade of DIVA: constructing community in a British lesbian magazine, 1994-2004
2009-12-11T10:19:25Z (GMT) by
This thesis is the product of a discourse analytic investigation of the first decade of the British lesbian magazine, DIVA, which launched in 1994. Work on mainstream women's and men's magazines has established them as sites at which (largely heterosexual) femininities and masculinities are constructed and construed, but relatively little scholarship has addressed lesbian magazines in this fashion. DIVA is Britain's only nationally sold, mainstream lesbian magazine; with this in mind, the thesis provides an analytic account of the magazine's launch, production and brand, and considers the discursive construction of lesbian community and the boundary work that that entails. The initial analytic chapters detail editorial philosophies, routines, and financial circumstances; design, front covers, and editorial content. Though the magazine has only limited resources available, those restrictions are simultaneously liberating, allowing DIVA's editors to pursue their political commitments at the same time as operating in the commercial marketplace. In considering the discursive construction of 'us', the thesis highlights a focus on community, support, and heritage. It further considers the discursive management of the boundaries of that imagined community, focusing on the 'threat' posed by bisexual women and the arguments this causes among readers. Finally, DIVA's handling of (heterosexual) others is considered, concluding that they are constructed as irrational, yet powerful, aggressors. Overall, DIVA's was a brand invested in the notion of community and in its role not only in imagining that community but also bringing members together. Though readers were at times divided over who belonged, or should belong, they were united in their belief that there was something to belong to. In the face of a hostile greater 'other', which was constructed as a constant source of threat, this belonging was incredibly important.