Liminal spaces in popular culture: Social change through rhetorical agency




Kirkwood, Roxanne

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This dissertation looks at how social change happens through liminal spaces which are created when two rhetorics, persuasive and invitational, bump up against/into each other in popular culture media. I use a case study of pro-anorexia websites to investigate the phenomena. The liminal space is created by primarily teenage girls who have developed and posted pro-anorexia websites. The pro-anas have created a space where people who happen to stumble into a social change message choose to stay and engage with the rhetors or leave. Because of where the rhetors are sharing their ideologies, the audience is allowed to choose their level of participation including total rejection. I see these spaces as naturally occurring as the result of a need in our current culture to negotiate complex and often conflicting ideologies within society and ourselves. I wish to acknowledge that these spaces exist and use the pro-ana websites as a starting point for a conversation about what is driving the creation of such spaces, the need for two rhetorics, and what we can learn about the state of social change from it.



Language, literature, and linguistics, Liminal spaces, Popular culture, Proanorexia, Social change, Websites