Constructing National Identity in Men vs Women’s Magazines: A Case Study from the USA




Corpus-assisted Discourse Analysis, Gender, Magazines, National Identity, United States of America


National identity plays an important role in defining many people’s attitude towards reality. Its representation has remained under the radar within the field of linguistics for decades, while being investigated in a number of different genres, from political speeches to advertisement; in this regard, however, a gap can be found when it comes to magazines.
This study focuses on US national context and seeks to reveal how a range of discursive devices—including lexical, syntactic and metaphorical patterns—are used in the representation of nation and national identity in popular magazines published in the US. The analysis provides a comparison based on the target audience’s gender identity.
A mixed methods approach is applied to two corpora, covering a time span between 2015 and 2020 and comprising a total of approximately 9 million words from popular magazines aimed respectively at a female (Allure, Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, Vanity Fair and Vogue) and male audience (Men’s Health, Popular Mechanics, Esquire and GQ). Firstly, we employed corpus-assisted methods to explore the data at a more general level, drawing on concordance and collocation analysis. Secondly, we carried out in-depth, qualitative analysis of relevant words and expressions looking at their wider textual context. Thirdly, we compared the results between corpora. The analysis shows some common patterns—e.g., a strong use of personification of the country, often represented as facing a moment of crisis—as well as differences in how these patterns are articulated in the two corpora.

Author Biographies

Angela Zottola, Università degli Studi di Torino

Angela Zottola is a Researcher in English Language and Linguistics at the University of Torino. Her research interests include (Critical) Discourse Analysis, Corpus Linguistics, Queer Linguistics and Ecolinguistics applied to the analysis of the media. She is interested in investigating the representation of identities in different contexts. Among her recent publications is her book Transgeder Identities in the Press (2021), published by Bloomsbury.

Virginia Zorzi, Università degli Studi di Torino

Virginia Zorzi is an adjunct instructor of English Language and Linguistics at the University of Torino. Her research is situated within the fields of applied linguistics, discourse analysis and sociology, and her work chiefly draws on methods related to corpus linguistics. Her recent works have focused on the public communication of science and technology, populism and political communication in social media and, recently, the representation of national identity.


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