Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Mariaelena Bartesaghi, Ph.D.

Committee Member

A. David Payne, Ph.D.

Committee Member

​Jane Jorgenson, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Camilla Vásquez, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Randy Borum, Psy.D.


discourse, media interviews, multimodality, rhetoric, terrorism, women, accounts


In this study, I examine how terrorism is produced and consumed in communication. Using discourse analysis, I investigate how terrorism is constituted in the accounts of four women described in online news reports as having joined, or almost joined the so-called Islamic State (IS): “Alex,” constructed as having been lonely and flirted with IS; “Khadija,” presented as a schoolteacher turned member of IS’s all-women’s brigade; Laura, described as a woman whose partner abandoned her, who met a man online, and who brought her son with her to join IS; and Tareena, referred to as a health worker who brought her child with her to join IS. My analyses address how each interview can add to our insights about becoming a woman of IS. I make four arguments. First, terrorism is mobilized through interaction. Second, the double bind is a dynamic uniquely applicable to women because becoming a member of IS can be examined as an act of gender resistance. Third, accounts of becoming a woman of IS work as rhetoric designed to prevent other vulnerable people from being recruited. Fourth, terrorism is mobilized through narrative storytelling, especially through the use of paralinguistic features in the building of accounts. By researching terrorism as communication, and focusing in particular on four women’s interviews of their recruitment experiences, this dissertation contributes to new, applicable, and actionable interventions designed to counter and prevent the violence of terrorism, as well as to research about women, terrorism, and communication.