Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name




Degree Program

English, MA

Committee Chair

McDonald, Frances

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Williams, Bronwyn

Committee Member

Williams, Bronwyn

Committee Member

Omer-Sherman, Ranen

Author's Keywords

Gonzo; Russian formalism; Hunter S. Thompson; counterculture; fear and loathing; definition


Gonzo journalism is notoriously difficult to define because of its ambiguous nature. To date, scholarly definitions focus on historical interpretations of Gonzo’s content, its connection to social and political contexts, or the biography of Hunter S. Thompson. These definitional attempts neglect the formal devices of the composition. This thesis aims to redefine Gonzo as its own genre by using the nearly forgotten methods of Russian formalism—specifically the works of Victor Shklovsky, Vladimir Propp, and Boris Tomashevsky—to analyze the formal devices and components of its form. The results are twofold; first, it acts to rejuvenate an unpopular literary theory by illustrating its value in examining literature and, secondly, it reveals key identity markers that encourage Gonzo’s redefinition. Thus, the outcome of this thesis is to establish Gonzo as its own genre that is objectively defined by its composition rather than subjective interpretations of its content, context, or author.