American Fracture, Digital Rage: Evaluating the Influence of Conspiratorial Rhetoric on the U.S. Catholic Community
It has been well documented that religious individuals and groups continue to play roles in both the complex global web of polarization, extremism, and terroristic violence and in the reciprocal forces of peacebuilding, justice work, and public reconciliation. My graduate thesis research examines the historical antecedents and current characteristics of digital spaces like #CatholicTwitter (and, in particular, the degree to which both conspiratorial and extremist rhetoric flow throughout them) to assess how such social media spaces both mediate the American Catholic experience and affect the civic health of the United States at large. This thesis speaks to all those interested in understanding, assessing, and combatting civic fragmentation, polarization, and extremism; enters into a growing scholarly conversation exploring the various ways Catholic individuals and institutions both affect and are affected by conspiratorial discourse, misinformation, and disinformation; and point toward potential reconciliatory paths forward. As a Catholic and Marianist institution, the University of Dayton "encourages its members to judge for themselves how institutions are performing their purposes (and) to expose deficiencies in their structures and operations..." through inquiry, dialogue, and praxis. In that spirit, I write in hopes of helping advance our campus community's communal mission to function as a university for the common good.
William Trollinger, Vincent Miller, Nicholas Rademacher
Primary Advisor's Department
Stander Symposium, College of Arts and Sciences
Institutional Learning Goals
Critical Evaluation of Our Times; Scholarship; Faith
"American Fracture, Digital Rage: Evaluating the Influence of Conspiratorial Rhetoric on the U.S. Catholic Community" (2023). Stander Symposium Projects. 3184.
Presentation: 10:00-10:20 a.m., Kennedy Union 211