Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Communication (MA)

Degree Level





Frank Scheide

Committee Member

Joe Hatfield

Second Committee Member

Ringo Jones


Abuse, Genre, Historical, Power, School Films


Despite vast literature analyzing films that depict romantic and sexual relationships between young students and their teachers, scholarship has yet to explicitly call this category of films and television a genre. The purpose of the present thesis is to define the student-teacher romance film genre and identify patterns that make it up as a means of illuminating the genre’s exploration of abuse of power in the classroom. I use a historical-generic methodology and gaze theory as a framework to conduct this analysis. I identify three distinct eras of the genre and analyze films from each time period. The first era (1920s-1960s) defined abuse of power and outlined the parameters of what behavior was and was not acceptable during that time. The second era (1970s-1990s) exploited the sexuality of both female students and teachers. The third era (2000s-2020s) became more aware of the abuse of power; some films called out abuse, while others sensationalized it. I conclude that student-teacher romance is an abuse of power and should be presented as such in film and television.