College of Communication Master of Arts Theses

Date of Award

Fall 11-30-2012

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Organizational and Multicultural Communication

First Advisor

Xing (Lucy) Lu

Second Advisor

Barbara Willard


This is an interdisciplinary study that integrates the fields of visual rhetoric, media, and identity. This study seeks to gain a better understanding of photojournalism as the medium of rhetorical messages and communicative power in terms of representing the identity, experience, and perspective of Kosovar Muslims and Roma in Other and self-representations. By applying Kenneth Burke’s theory of dramatism and pentadic criticism, I seek to illustrate and analyze how an outsider, James Nachtwey, uses rhetorical appeals to represent Kosovar Muslims during the Kosovo War of 1999 and how an insider, Djordje Jovanovic, uses rhetorical appeals to represent Kosovar Roma during 2006-2007. In combination with Burke’s pentad, I also use Stuart Hall’s theories of representation and identity construction and contestation; Roland Barthes’ theory of visual rhetoric; and semiotics to expand in my analysis. Moreover, I apply the concepts of objectivity, subjectivity, voyeurism, and compassion fatigue in my analysis. I argue that Nachtwey depicted the struggles and damage of the Kosovo War, but while doing so, enforced American values and interests. I also argue that Kosovar Roma were more aptly represented by Jovanovic, who is a Kosovar himself. I suggest that as digital technology and Internet access become more widely available, it is important to empower minorities to visually represent their own groups and circumstances through photojournalism. I conclude that media consumers must be critical of the photojournalistic representations they consume of other cultures, while simultaneously being aware of the social identity of the author of those rhetorical artifacts.

Included in

Communication Commons