Defense Date

4-29-2021

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Type

Master of Arts

Degree Name

Composition, Rhetoric, and Digital Media

First Advisor

Janine Morris, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Melissa Bianchi, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Juliette Kitchens, Ph.D.

Abstract

This project examines environmental discourse and rhetorical appeals used on Instagram by environmental influencers and addresses the lack of scholarship about social mobile commerce, Instagram, and the popularity of “eco-influencers.” My research applies post-composition studies, circulation, and visual rhetoric to two eco-influencers, Greta Thunberg (@gretathunbeerg) and Jessica Clifton (@impactforgood). I argue that Thunberg and Clifton employ aesthetic and apocalyptic rhetoric to educate and communicate with their following about reducing their carbon footprint and reversing climate change. By collecting three months of Instagram posts employed by each influencer, I identify patterns related to environmentalism, stylistic choices in captions, and presentation of photographs. Although both influencers aim to educate their audiences about climate change, their distinct rhetoric is emblematic of the juxtaposing appeals made regarding climate change on social media. With the Earth’s continual temperature rise and dichotomized politics in the United States, a generally accessible narrative for representing nature is becoming necessary. Although my study of eco-influencers on Instagram only points to two common discourses, scholars may benefit from continuing to observe social media influencers and question how they represent nature and access to bridge political divides and enact change.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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