Defense Date

8-12-2021

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Type

Master of Arts

Degree Name

Composition, Rhetoric, and Digital Media

First Advisor

Star Vanguri, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Kelly Anne Concannon Mannise, Ph.D.

Abstract

The short-form video-sharing application TikTok has blossomed from a standard piece of social media into the multi-use platform known in households around the world. A consideration of how brand identities are created in online spaces has much to offer scholars in communication studies and rhet/comp. This project examines how brand identity and audiences are formed through analyzing successful brands and the content they post. My research applies a stylistic analysis, drawing from theories proposed by Ethan Bresnick, Donald Murray, and Carolyn Mae Kim, to observe five well known pages on TikTok: Chipotle, the National Basketball Association (NBA), Netflix, The Washington Post, and the children’s network Nickelodeon. The thesis focuses on how these pages utilize components of play. To illustrate this, I draw upon Bresnick’s theory of "intensified play," connecting the intensification of contemporary cinematic techniques to the changing characteristics of play on mobile devices. In essence, I argue that our field lacks the specificity to discuss TikTok when regarding identity building on social media. This thesis expands upon the theory of intensified play and highlights the importance of the application when building one’s brand.

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