Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Meredith Johnson, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Elizabeth Metzger, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Nathan Johnson, Ph.D.


new materialism, Photoshop, Reddit, social media


The purpose of this project is to examine the visual rhetoric of one online community. Drawing heavily from the work of Laurie Gries (2015), I track the evolution of an image as it circulates through a forum of photo manipulators in the group “PhotoShopBattles.” While Gries’ work traced the evolution of the iconic Obama Hope poster and its iterations in various media, this project restricts its observations to the images posted to one webpage, focusing on one evolutionary chain. By narrowing the focus to one internet forum page that evolved over the course of one week, we can observe linear evolution that occurs quite rapidly. While the study of Obama Hope covered years, the works in this study were constructed in a matter of days. Additionally, the site records the step-by-step progress of the reformed work.

The Obama Hope work offers guidance to the work in this project. Using this method, an image’s evolution is broken down into steps and principles noted in the life of the image or multiple-image. By recreating a slightly modified version of Gries’ method, this work seeks to decode the meanings and outcomes that are created and changed around one set of evolving images. New materialism offers a way to explore the visual rhetorical moves of members of an online community and discuss the outcomes associated with those moves. With a deeper understanding of the environment surrounding image creation and the outcomes derived from an image, we can better understand the way image is used rhetorically online.

Included in

Rhetoric Commons