WP167 Infectious repetition-differentiation in an on-line debate on sexualities: Textual friction, scale shifts and resemiotization potential

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In 2014, Globo TV – the leading Brazilian TV network – aired a soap-opera featuring a lesbian couple whose relationship ended up taking center stage, shifting from its initial focus on a love affair involving straight people. After being initially rejected by the audience, the show gradually gained popularity, triggering both backlash and support concerning same-sex marriage and alternative family bonds. Part of that debate took place in digital environments (social networks, blogs and websites), and in this paper I approach one such context: the comments section of an online newspaper where participants respond to a brief article on the two female characters and the allegedly widespread rejection of their love story. Concentrating on this online interaction, I analyse the pragmatics of iterability and probe the tension between the possibilities for repetition and renewal, taking repetition and difference as intertwined domains. Both theoretically and methodologically, I draw on contemporary studies in the field of sociolinguistics, linguistic anthropology and to the so-called philosophy of difference (Deleuze 1994), and I map communicable cartographies (Briggs 2005) by (i) tracing part of the Discourses that precipitate and spread infectiously through this online environment; (ii) by investigating how they interpellate interlocutors and locate them in the sociocultural world; and (iii) by keeping an eye on the interconnection between textual friction, scale shifts and resemiotization (Blommaert 2005, 2007), processes which interlaced vertical / asymmetrical scalar values and more horizontal, and nuanced, perspectives. Scrutinizing audiences? uptake, the study sheds light on oscillating movements around meanings attributed to sexuality – from normalization toward transformation ? and it shows that communicable cartographies can be resisted, alternative meanings explored, and cemented plots re-imagined.