The Repository @ St. Cloud State

Open Access Knowledge and Scholarship

Date of Award


Culminating Project Type


Degree Name

English: Rhetoric and Writing: M.A.




College of Liberal Arts

First Advisor

Dr. James Heiman

Second Advisor

Dr. Matt Barton

Third Advisor

Dr. Dan Wildeson

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Keywords and Subject Headings

cancel culture, academy, academic freedom


Calls for social justice have been around since the Civil Rights movements of the 1950s and 1960s, but it wasn’t until recently that America has seen a resurgence of these calls. Social media has made it easier for average people who wouldn’t normally consider themselves social justice warriors to fight for the social justice of others. With the help of social media, speaking up about social injustices has become easy and convenient. Out of this recent resurgence, we have seen a new culture form: cancel culture. Cancel discourse – the language that perpetuates cancel culture – is threatening the very fabric of our academic institutions. Colleges and universities across America are overwhelmingly trading their long-held ideals – particularly those related to academic freedom – for new ideals created under cancel discourse – specifically, silencing any discourse that may be interpreted as transgressive in nature. By allowing cancel discourse to continue, colleges and universities give up ideals that form a liberal society, particularly those related to open-mindedness. Ultimately, the goals cancel discourse attempt to achieve work to reinforce the very social injustices they attempt to tear down. Cancel discourse is the newest way of attempting to use the master’s tools to dismantle the master’s house (Lorde, 1984).