cosmetic surgery, transitivity, appraisal analysis, women's bodies, media discourse
Cosmetic surgery and dermatology have emerged relatively recently in Ireland as options for women who are dissatisfied with their appearance. To date, the topic is somewhat unexplored. This thesis addresses three research questions concerning representations in language of cosmetic surgery and dermatology which emerged from the literature: <!--[if !supportLists]-->1. <!--[endif]-->How are women’s experiences of CSD represented in the language of print and television media? <!--[if !supportLists]-->2. <!--[endif]-->Is it possible to identify linguistic markers of editorial influence and thereby reveal mediated qualities of media discourses?<!--[if !supportLists]-->3. <!--[endif]-->Can discourse analysis inform body studies’ theoretical approach to the topic of CSD by attending to specific linguistic aspects of mediated CSD discourses? Print and television data were collected in order to address these questions. The print data consist of a series of five editors’ letters and twenty-five ‘case studies’ from Rejuvenate magazine, which is an Irish publication devoted to the topic of cosmetic surgery and dermatology, collected over a two year period. The television data consist of an Irish documentary series of six programmes Desperately Seeking Surgery, which charts the experiences of fifteen people who have chosen to undergo cosmetic surgery and dermatology. Multiple methods were chosen to answer the research questions. In relation to the first question, Thematic Network Analysis (Attride-Stirling 2001) revealed that naturalised discourses circulating in the texts included the concept of the body as a project in need of constant modification, ageing as primarily an experience of physical decline that must be resisted and rendered invisible through the practices of cosmetic surgery and dermatology, and an almost exclusive emphasis on women in relation to their physical appearance. Transitivity and appraisal analysis provided answers to the first and second questions. These analyses revealed editorial influences in the texts and exposed what may appear to readers as unified texts, to be complex webs of voices and sources of evaluations. The television data analysis also provided answers to the first two questions by allowing for exploration of the ‘during’ of cosmetic surgery and dermatology encounters which tends to be largely absent in magazine accounts. Analysis of the television data brought to light whispers of oppositional discourses of cosmetic surgery and dermatology that were absent in the magazine texts. The general impression communicated by the magazine was that of cosmetic surgery and dermatology as positive, easy options for women. However, as cosmetic surgery and dermatology are still relatively marginal practices for Irish women, murmurs of opposition did arise, its naturalisation in the discourse of media texts may be considered a work in progress. In relation to the final research question the thesis as a whole demonstrates how discourse analysis and media discourse analysis in particular may contribute to body studies theoretical approach to the topic of cosmetic surgery and dermatology by systematically attending to specific linguistic aspects of mediated discourses of cosmetic surgery and dermatology.