Date of Award

Fall 2009

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Garner, Ana

Second Advisor

Chattopadhyay, Sumana

Third Advisor

Scotton, James


We experience and comprehend life as a series of ongoing narratives, and these narratives are heavily reliant upon the frames we consciously and unconsciously use to define ourselves within them. Though previous research indicates that the consumption of violent media either increase aggressive constructs in viewers (Bushman, 1998), desensitize viewers to domestic and sexual violence (e. g., Donnerstein & Penrod, 1988; Mullin & Linz, 1995) or prime individuals to make hostile attributions about the behavior of others (e.g., Thomas & Drabman, 1978; Bargh and Pietromonaco, 1982; Wann and Branscombe, 1990; Zelli, Huesmann, & Cervone, 1995), my own experiences as a consumer and producer of graphically violent horror films suggest otherwise. Consequently, my thesis is an autoethnography that details my own emotional, psychological and social factors as they relate to the scripting and shooting of my latest horror film High School Sweethearts

This autoethnography presents a self-reflexive personal narrative about what it means to create violence as a form of entertainment, and it combines making-of-the-film vignettes with this self-analysis to better understand why I willingly consume and create violent imagery, which in turn contributes to the culture of violence. Furthermore, this thesis implicitly challenges the orthodox transmission view of communication by arguing that certain forms of communication, such as horror films, are best understood through the ritual model of communication.

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