Friendship Shouldn’t Hurt: Toward a Trauma-Literate Rhetoric of Friendship Through Post-2010 Television

David Powers Corwin

Major Professor: Heidi Y. Lawrence, PhD, Department of English

Committee Members: Susan Lawrence, Hatim El-Hibri

Horizon Hall, #4225, https://gmu.zoom.us/j/91527975471?pwd=bFE0anM0RmVnOFVOSnJnMk1IOStyUT09
March 21, 2022, 12:00 PM to 03:00 PM

Abstract:

Abstract: While trauma rhetoric continues to be a focus of scholarly inquiry in a post #metoo world, friendships are not explored and included within this body of literature. This dissertation responds to this gap through a feminist rhetorical analysis of Post-2010 television, another area that lacks in rhetoric. Through an analysis of trauma and friendship rhetoric in Private Practice, Thirteen Reasons Why, and The End of the F***ing World, this study finds television perpetuates a rhetoric of trauma that decenters the survivor’s experience and refocuses the narrative toward a narration of how the traumatic events in question affect the friend groups involved. Using Burke’s rhetorical theory of identification and Wendy S. Hesford’s framing of trauma rhetoric, the study unveils how spectators are conditioned to identify with the dominant friend character who in turn has control over the narrative. Then, the dominant character chastises the survivors or victims who have brought this trauma to the friend group. This study also finds that this same rhetoric is infiltrated in public dialogues such as the Kavanaugh-Blasey Ford hearings, which makes this work have implications for public dialogues on trauma. Finally, the study argues for a more “trauma-literate” rhetoric of friendships and maintains that feminist rhetorical analysis of fictional and public dialogues of trauma can bring this type of literacy.