Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

"Cool Buzzword" or "Social Failure"? Examining the Nerd on Television
by Lapacek-Trout, Natalie L., M.S., Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, 2014, 120; 1560764
Abstract (Summary)

This study delves into the world of nerd culture as it is presented on network, cable and web television. Drawing on foundational research within both popular culture and scholarly research, the author examines the culture through textual analysis of one episode from each of five television shows: The Big Bang Theory; 30 Rock; King of the Nerds; The Nerdist; and The Guild. As this study's theoretical framework is the Frankfurt scholars' theory of the commodification of culture, the authenticity of nerd culture in its present state is a central issue. Findings from the literature and textual analyses show that the portrayals of nerds on television designed for mass audiences often exploit traditional nerd stereotypes to encourage viewers to "play nerd" while also presenting certain nerdish characteristics as a social warning. Conversely, nerd culture as presented for niche audiences are indeed closer to what the authentic culture is, which is a community of like-minded individuals who wish to create, innovate and express their uniqueness rather than simply consume products and trends associated with the culture.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Hicks, Gary R.
Commitee: Donald, Ralph, Mishra, Suman
School: Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville
Department: Mass Communication
School Location: United States -- Illinois
Source: MAI 53/03M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Sociology, Mass communications, Film studies
Keywords: Authenticity, Commodification, Nerd, Nerd culture, Television
Publication Number: 1560764
ISBN: 978-1-321-04531-4
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