Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation

12-2020

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

M.A.

Department

English

Degree Program

English, MA

Committee Chair

Kopelson, Karen

Committee Member

Clukey, Amy

Committee Member

Fos

Committee Member

Fosl, Catherine

Author's Keywords

appalachia; queer; constitutive rhetoric; rhetoric; social media; class politics

Abstract

Appalachians who use the word “queer” to specifically refer to being gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and/or asexual, are regularly faced with negotiating how these parts of their identity can exist simultaneously, as many both within and without the region believe it is impossible to be Appalachian and queer at the same time. Despite rampant homophobia in the region and external narratives suggesting that queer Appalachians do not exist, these folkx have carved out spaces for themselves to assert their identities and create community and belonging through rhetorical actions. Many of these spaces are online, taking place through digital media and social networking platforms. The self-described “artist collective” known as Queer Appalachia has helped in creating a digital safe space for Appalachian youth who identify as queer while advocating for anti-capitalist political goals and working to coalesce for national action and change. Queer Appalachia’s website states, “we survive and even thrive through sharing tales of wildcrafting our queerness, foraging for pieces of ourselves within the intersections of coal mines and class, race and religion, food justice and colonialism.” Queer Appalachia works to recruit an audience that is aware of and working against the intentional and inherent injustice present in the region as a whole, arguing that this injustice is rooted in capitalism and must therefore be combated with a class-oriented, anti-capitalist approach. In this project, I use a framework of constitutive rhetorical theory (elaborated below) to analyze Queer Appalachia’s social media presence and the ‘zine published by the collective in order to argue that QA’s social media works to interpellate subjects into an identity that can do anti-capitalist social justice work.

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