Date of Graduation

Fall 2012


Master of Arts in Communication



Committee Chair

Elizabeth Dudash


documentary, film, cinema, rhetoric, narrative, persuasion, symbolic convergence, identification, consubstantiality, Bormann, Burke

Subject Categories



Rhetorical analyses of socio-political documentary film frequently rely upon neo-Aristotelian methodologies. However, this researcher argues that neo-Aristotelianism cannot account for the interpretive and culturally situated nature of socio-political documentary film. In moving forward, this researcher presents a new vision of socio-political documentary film as situated within social movement groups. Social movements are grounded in culture, embedded within a milieu of powerful social institutions, and constituted by situated individuals who are motivated by a vision of social change. In an effort to affect change, social movement participants must strategically utilize their available resources. Thus, within this thesis project, Burke's concepts of identification and consubstantiality merge with Bormann's theory of symbolic convergence in order to assess the rhetorical strategies utilized in Robert Kenner 2008 socio-political documentary Food, Inc. The researcher's analysis of Food, Inc. emphasizes group narrative as an alternative theoretical framework and a valuable locus of future research.


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