Re-inscribing racial separation: a multimodal discourse analysis of the news media's representations of race during Hurricane Katrina

Date of Award


Degree Name

M.A. in English


Department of English


Advisor: Patrick W. Thomas


In this thesis, following in the steps of Shah and Voorhees et al., I attempt to understand the ways in which the news media constructs representations of race. Contributing to calls made by scholars, such as Gunther Kress and Theo van Leeuwen, to expand methods of analyzing multimodal texts to include similar considerations as those of the critical disciplines (Kress and van Leeuwen 14), I build on the foundations of Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA). Applying methods of multimodal discourse analysis and social actor analysis to CDA, I seek to extend a critical reading of the linguistic text to include other semiotic modes; specifically I will explore how these modes are used, individually and collectively, to represent race by the news media in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In order to this, I will first establish the basic tenants of Critical Discourse Analysis; this section is presented to provide an important context to CDA attention to the centralizing forces of power in discourse. Because CDA only supplies scholars with one available mode of analysis, the linguistic text, I will then argue for the importance of multimodal discourse analysis. Lastly, I will use the front covers of two prominent newspapers covering the events of Katrina to consider how various modes (linguistic text and visual modes) influence audience perceptions of race. I believe this approach provides interesting insight into the ways in which the theoretical approaches of CDA and MMDA are intertwined and find greater validation in their collectivity.


Race relations and the press, Hurricane Katrina, 2005 Press coverage, Sociolinguistics, Language and languages Usage, New Orleans (La.) Race relations Press coverage, Communication; language; linguistics; sociolinguistics; discourse analysis; multimodal; CDA; Hurricane Katrina; race; news; media

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