Date of Award

8-2019

Culminating Project Type

Thesis

Degree Name

English: Rhetoric and Writing: M.A.

Department

English

College

College of Liberal Arts

First Advisor

Sharon Cogdill

Second Advisor

Matt Barton

Third Advisor

Kirstin Bratt

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

Symbolic Convergence Theory, Taylor Swift, Teenage Girls, Girlhood

Abstract

The fandoms of teenage girls have, historically, been ridiculed by the larger part of American society. The popular interests of teenage girls, such as Taylor Swift, Twilight, or the Beatles, have been used to invalidate young women across America, reducing them to the idea of “basic”—someone who thinks they are unique but likes mainstream trends, such as wearing leggings and drinking Starbucks. This idea of “basic” reinforces the idea that in order to perform femininity correctly, girls should be unlike other girls without being drastically different. In fact, the phrase “that’s for teenage girls” is a common insult used to shame those who are not teenage girls for liking things like Twilight or Taylor Swift. Swift and her fans, Swifties, fulfill this position in an interesting way because fans are perceived to be stereotypical teenage girls and Swift is invalidated as an artist because of it. Using Symbolic Convergence Theory, I analyzed the Tumblr posts of the Taylor Swift fandom to understand what a large group of “other girls” discusses within their group. The rhetorical vision of fans is created through their characterization of Swift and depends on that shared understanding, while also informing the identity of fans themselves. The conversation of fans is not limited to Taylor Swift, though. Instead, fans have used their platform to learn rhetorical analysis, create content, make friendships, interact with Swift, and discuss social issues with their peers.

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