Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Rachel E. Dubrofsky, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Aisha Durham, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Ambar Basu, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Sara Crawley, Ph.D.


Gender, Class, Sexuality, Evelyn Higginbotham


This dissertation examines narratives about racialized gender, sexuality, and class through media images of black Americans with HIV/AIDS. Through textual analysis of media sites featuring HIV/AIDS and blackness (The Announcement, Precious, and Marvelyn Brown’s website,, this project analyzes how the politics of respectability—a set of precepts that govern how black men and women can present themselves in public spaces to align with white ideals of gender and sexuality—construct black people in media representations of HIV/AIDS. This work examines how respectability politics deployed in media representations of HIV/AIDS and black Americans reclaim notions of acceptable black sexuality by reifying age-old stereotypes of black masculinity femininity. I argue that the goal of respectability politics in countering anti-blackness through limited parameters for acceptable presentations of racialized gender and sexuality continue to challenge and complicate media representations of HIV/AIDS and black Americans.