Committee Chair

Palmer, Heather

Committee Member

Hunter, Rik; Matthew, Guy


Dept. of English


College of Arts and Sciences


University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Place of Publication

Chattanooga (Tenn.)


This study explores how modern epideictic practices enact latent community values by analyzing modern call-out culture, a form of public shaming that aims to hold individuals responsible for perceived politically incorrect behavior via social media, and cancel culture, a boycott of such behavior and a variant of call-out culture. As a result, this thesis is mainly concerned with the capacity of words, iterated within the archive of social media, to haunt us—both culturally and informatically. Through hauntology, this study hopes to understand a modern discourse community that is bound by an epideictic framework that specializes in the deconstruction of the individual’s ethos via the constant demonization and incitement of past, current, and possible social media expressions. The primary goal of this study is to understand how these practices function within a capitalistic framework and mirror the performativity of capital by reducing affective human interactions to that of a transaction.


I want to personally thank, though I suppose this is rather impersonal, both Dr. Heather Palmer and Dr. Rik Hunter for bearing with me for the duration of this project. This attempted analysis of what constitutes either moral or amoral practices within the realm of epideictic rhetoric has been quite the undertaking. I understand that having not met many of the agreed upon deadlines might have caused a few ripples and, perhaps, notions of doubt in the minds of my committee; however, I feel confident that I have adequately met the standards presented to me by the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, and its presiding English faculty. Dr. Palmer, I want to specifically thank you for always being rather open and inviting to some of my rather puzzling, and often troubled feelings, about modern politics and philosophy. Without your commitment, rather your attitude towards learning and educating, I don’t think I would have had the confidence to pursue my half-baked ideas, nor fumble through my long-winded class presentations about the necessity of both Jungian psychoanalysis and the moral and ethical contributions of Friedrich Nietzsche during your History of Rhetorical Theory classes. Dr. Hunter, I think it’s appropriate of me to point out that this is your first exposure to my academic work. In fact, I hadn’t taken a single one of your classes until the very last semester of spring 2020; however, I have been enjoying your demeanor, humor, and overall commitment to student success in the short time that I have been attending your class. Your knowledge of rhetoric, design, and writing has introduced me to many key concepts in the field of rhetoric that I have tragically not been exposed to up to this point. Thank you.


M. A.; A thesis submitted to the faculty of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the degree of Master of Arts.




Rhetoric; Social media


cancel culture; call-out culture; epideictic; hauntology; posthumanism; rhetoric

Document Type

Masters theses




vii, 97 leaves