Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Degree Granting Department

Humanities and Cultural Studies

Major Professor

Maria Cizmic, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Andrew Berish, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Todd Jurgess, Ph.D.


horror film, mediation, memory, parody, postmodernism, satire


This thesis investigates trauma representation in the horror film trilogy Scream, by director Wes Craven and based on the story and characters by screenwriter Kevin Williamson. The franchise is a satirical body of work that uproots the formulaic narrative aspects of the slasher film subgenre, of which it belongs to. Craven and Williamson’s method of critiquing the subgenre employs the usage of its cinematic tropes, though elevating them to a level of postmodern parody. I analyze traumatic representation within the franchise’s layers of mediation and postmodern narrative elements, which are often highlighted in academic discussion. The trauma observed revolves around protagonist Sidney Prescott, who I argue exhibits symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. Instead of employing conventional techniques used to convey trauma in film, such as the flashback sequence, Scream adopts a form of representation grounded in the very framework of the slasher film, as well as its own contemporary preoccupation with mediation. Turning to theories of trauma by the likes of Sigmund Freud and Cathy Caruth, I thematize the franchise’s reconfiguration of slasher film tropes as performative of Sidney’s recurring trauma, as she navigates her way through the film’s violence and technological mediation as the “final girl” responsible for ending the killer’s reign of rampage.