Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Communication and Information

Major Professor

Catherine A. Luther

Committee Members

Michelle T. Violanti, Suzanne Kurth, Benjamin J. Bates


This dissertation traces lesbian portrayals on network television from the 1960s through the 1990s. A focus on episodic dramas and situation comedies reveals a concise representation of the mediated lesbian image. Building on existing research on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender images on television, this work focuses exclusively on the lesbian image broadcast free of charge over the air during prime-time on commercial networks in the United States. Using a postmodern feminist framework, this textual analysis examines the images and texts portraying lesbian characters in episodic dramas and situation comedies. Furthermore, applying a semiotic lens to the analysis dissects the voice and actions of lesbian characters illustrating the ways production techniques and narrative scripting work together to represent a lesbian image on television.

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