Revealing "La Gran Ocultadora": Frida Kahlo at the Intersection of Art and Linguistic Repertoire as Representative of the Cultivation of Identity




Diaz, Kandice Nikkole

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The present dissertation investigates the linguistic features of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo's register that serve as acts of identity meant to index various parts of her identity. I explore how Kahlo constructs and performs her identity through her writings as a result of language contact, in relation to mexicanidad, and as a means to mark her as a member of the speech community of Mexico City. The methodology used in this study is a combination of corpus stylistics and close reading. Data collection began with a manual scan of the corpus and utilized a digital tool (Internet Archive) to perform KWIC searches to locate occurrences of specific linguistic features. Once the linguistic features were located, close reading was used to ascertain Kahlo's rhetorical purpose and the contextual meaning of each piece of data. The corpus used for examination purposes is comprised of Kahlo's writings, to include her letters and diary, all of which were analyzed in Kahlo's mother-tongue to ensure reliability of conclusions made based on the analysis. I argue that Kahlo's language use presents an invaluable resource in which to examine her construction and performance of identity in addition to the visual aspects of this performance. I also argue that Kahlo's writings display her alignment with ingroups and specific ideologies as deliberate rhetorical choices meant to garner a desired response from her audience, while other aspects of her register occur as an example of natural language use. Thus, this study adds to the limited scholarship on identity work based on a written corpus, fills the gap on linguistic studies conducted on Kahlo beyond a biographical focus, and offers an expanded application of Le Page and Tabouret-Keller's "acts of identity" theory.


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