2015 - 18th Annual Steven Galovich Memorial Student Symposium

Presentation Title

Transcending Normative Identification in United States of Tara

Student Presenter(s) and Advisor

Katherine Fridholm, Lake Forest CollegeFollow

Location

Library 1st floor

Abstract

What does it mean to be normal? Mainstream media often marginalizes those who fall outside the boundaries of normal. As a result, film and television have the power to shape how we identify ourselves and what we perceive to be normal; however, Showtime's United States of Tara, attempts to deconstruct our prior understanding of normative identity. The show's positive portrayal of issues surrounding Dissociative Identity Disorder and gender identity reveals a world where acceptance of queer identities could, and should, be a successful alternative in our society. I will argue that United States of Tara deliberately challenges heteronormative values of society, which, in turn, exposes and defies conventional representations of gender often found in film and television. By deconstructing the stereotypes of mental illness and gender, United States of Tara is able to expand the boundaries of normative identification.

Presentation Type

Individual Presentation

Start Date

4-7-2015 2:30 PM

End Date

4-7-2015 3:45 PM

Panel

Media(ted) Representations of Gender and Identity

Panel Moderator

Katherine Balsley

Field of Study for Presentation

Communication, Women's and Gender Studies

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Apr 7th, 2:30 PM Apr 7th, 3:45 PM

Transcending Normative Identification in United States of Tara

Library 1st floor

What does it mean to be normal? Mainstream media often marginalizes those who fall outside the boundaries of normal. As a result, film and television have the power to shape how we identify ourselves and what we perceive to be normal; however, Showtime's United States of Tara, attempts to deconstruct our prior understanding of normative identity. The show's positive portrayal of issues surrounding Dissociative Identity Disorder and gender identity reveals a world where acceptance of queer identities could, and should, be a successful alternative in our society. I will argue that United States of Tara deliberately challenges heteronormative values of society, which, in turn, exposes and defies conventional representations of gender often found in film and television. By deconstructing the stereotypes of mental illness and gender, United States of Tara is able to expand the boundaries of normative identification.