Date of Graduation

5-2018

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in English (PhD)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

English

Advisor

Adam Pope

Committee Member

Patrick Slattery

Second Committee Member

David Jolliffe

Keywords

Anonymity, Communication, Composition, Ephemerality, Social Media

Abstract

This project seeks to provide a framework for navigating anonymous and ephemeral research spaces to theorize student-user composing practices on these social media platforms. This project reflects on and builds from the difficulties that arose during a previous project for which I collected data from a space that was both ephemeral and anonymous. That experience led me to the questions of use and research methods that I consider in this project, wherein I rely on critical reflective research practices to provide an effective methodology for examining the type of data in question. In this work, I consider how past and current conversations in composition studies, technical and professional communication, and popular media have shaped perceptions of anonymous and ephemeral spaces. Then, using the specific examples of Snapchat, Yik Yak, and Whisper, I discuss an IRB-approved, mixed methods study designed for this project. Through a large-scale survey and a small batch of qualitative interviews, I examine the ways that students are using these applications and the extent to which the characteristics of anonymity and ephemerality influence how they navigate these spaces. Finally, I offer implications of this project for instructions of composition and technical and professional communication, content creators and communication designers, and online researchers.

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