Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Patrice Buzzanell, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Ambar Basu, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Steve Wilson, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Rachel A. Griffin, Ph.D.


moral panic, Orientalism, representation, secularism, violence


This project interrogates unequal power relations that underlie newspaper representation of terrorism and reinforced Orientalism discourse following the 13 November 2015 mass murders in Saint-Denis and Paris, France, and following the 12 June 2016 mass shooting in Orlando, Florida, United States of America (U.S.A.). It was not surprising to bear witness to the ways national media took hold of these major socio-political events. These events, and the stories that have been published about them, are interpreted through the prism of terrorism, moral panic, and Orientalism, in the sense that the media tend to transcribe the shock of the attacks as a sounding board that freezes in time not only collective emotions, but also moral concerns based on a certain perception of those responsible for these acts.

Using comparative thematic analysis, the events and their representation in the national press as terrorism are critically engaged in this dissertation. Rooted in critical cultural studies, political theory, and international and intercultural communication, this project analyzes articles in French published by two national newspapers the week following the attacks in Saint-Denis and Paris, France, from 13 to 20 November 2015, by Le Monde and Le Figaro and articles published the week following the attacks in Orlando, Florida, so from 12 to 19 June 2016, by The New York Times and The Washington Post. These days were selected because they offer an understanding of representational strategies used by newspapers to instantiate these events.

This project ultimately contributes to the study of how media frame terrorism following these terrorist events, what meanings are assigned to identity, and the place of people who are traditionally marginalized within contemporary articulation of terrorism. I contend that news reinforced Orientalism in a construction of "folk devils" that often turns out to be disproportionate in the face of the global threat. France and the U.S.A. are then constantly presented in a Western continuum that finds the West threatened by a common enemy. This dissertation seeks to understand who benefits from the acts of terrorism and how examining media reports through the lens of moral panic provides auto-generative mechanisms and platforms for additional media and political attention and subsequent terrorist acts. These findings encourage scholars to consider the multiplicity of ways that Orientalism is reified despite strong calls to unity.

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