Honors in CDS – Spring 2023

Congratulations to the following CDS majors who graduated with Honors in Spring 2023. They have done impressive work- see their abstracts below, and you can find their projects in Eagle Scholar.

Abstract: This paper uses a form of rhetorical criticism known as frame analysis to analyze the perspective frames within the context of tabletop role-playing games (TRPGs). The three frames of interest in this study include the person frame, the player frame, and the character frame. These frames are used to contextualize certain person, player, and character interactions and immersion contexts within the first season of Dimension 20’s actual play podcast, Fantasy High. Through these three frames, we can see the breakdown of the person, player, and character mindset, as well as the overlap of thought, emo:ons, and ideas between frames. It is found that these frames help situate certain ac:ons and narratives in TRPGs, but the unstable nature of those frames means that players constantly shift between those frames while interacting with others in a TRPG setting.

Abstract: In recent years, a term called “bothsidesism” has come into public use as both a critique of journalists participating in false balance and as an expectation that journalists should cover all sides of an issue—no matter if a side’s claims are unfounded. I argue that bothsidesism is problematic because 1) bothsidesism is a fallacious rhetorical tactic that minimizes objective fact; 2) the term “bothsidesism” and the act of practicing it both reinforce bipar?san thought, which stymies political action; 3) false balance is at odds with the role of a journalist; and 4) false balance is perpetuated by comment sections. I offer alternative tactics for reporting and directions for future research.

Abstract: In 2021, I conducted participant observation research on the Herman Cain Award subreddit, examining the effectiveness of fear appeals on social media. In that research, I determined that fear appeals on social media platforms are just as effective as they are when used in mass media. The research also showed that the fear appeals in the subreddit worked to appeal to the unvaccinated users’ fear of online ridicule, rather than a fear of bodily harm. I found this finding interesting and worked to expand my research, now two years later, by further investigating the platform using Protection Motivation Theory (PMT), a health behavior theory I discovered during my initial research. In my current research, I use PMT to analyze the forum’s Immunized to Prevent Award (IPA) section and the effects of fear of online ridicule in health communication.

Abstract: The present study was a content analysis of the kairotic period created coming out of the COVID-19 lockdown and a change in women’s fashion, and whether the presentation of this new lifestyle was skewed by the rising social media platform TikTok. The videos ( N = 10) selected were the top videos under the #midsize and #midsizecommunity tags, to allow for greater diversity of mid-size content, were analyzed among category, tone, color, and ages of creators. Previous kairotic times in history with women’s fashion were reviewed to support the importance of this time. Results from an unaffiliated account on TikTok under the #midsize and #midsizecommunity tags were generally positive, with bright colors, and of early twenties age. The mid-size content has surpassed the trend lifecycle and became a lifestyle which supports the kairotic history of women’s fashion. Given women’s fight for equity, more research is needed to better understand the impact of these kairotic opportunities.

Abstract: As the influence of social media on the tourism marketing industry continues to grow, it becomes necessary to analyze how these platforms are being used. This study aims to determine the ways in which the combination of visuals and written copy in an Instagram post work to create an advertisable overall image of Southeast Asian countries as tourist destinations. Using a qualitative content analysis, twenty seven posts from the official tourism Instagram accounts of Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines were analyzed to determine what overall image is being presented, how this is being accomplished, and if the advertisement of these places and people is being done ethically. Results revealed that these accounts all use compelling written and visual rhetoric in the social media copy and visual of their posts in order to market these countries as the ideal tourist destination. It was further determined that content relating to ethical tourism is not a significant theme found across these selected Instagram accounts.

Abstract: Researchers have defined polysemy as a concept used to describe a word that can carry multiple different meanings depending on the context in which it is being used. This concept has also been applied to media in the way that film producers employ it within trailers and teasers, letting viewers interpret what is to come, in order to drive excitement and anticipation. In this paper, I explore the potential for polysemy within video games by taking a look into the 2022 game of the year, Elden Ring because it employs several different endings, leaving people with different interpretations of its story. I conducted my research via an online survey gathering participants by convenience sampling. Research findings suggest that polysemy is a concept that not only changes the scope of video games, but drastically improves the quality of a game. Future game developers should look to implement polysemy within future video game titles.

Abstract: Unexpected Mary Wash is a multimedia senior capstone individual study by Tess Wilhelm, telling the story of three UMW students with unexpected paths at Mary Wash. Over the course of three ten-minute videos, Unexpected Mary Wash follows the stories of Nathan Argust, Kevin Leong, and Andrea Gallegos, three UMW seniors who have had unique experiences in leadership, research, and academics at UMW. Unexpected Mary Wash was created as an attempt at encapsulating a look into the unique, hardworking, and creative student body of UMW, with an emphasis on finding your path and passion. The project filmed for the entirety of the Fall 2022 semester, and premiered in January of 2023.