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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The Rhetoric of Deliberate Deception: What Catfishing Can Teach Us
by Kottemann, Kathrin L., Ph.D., University of Louisiana at Lafayette, 2015, 175; 3712554
Abstract (Summary)

Catfishing - the practice of deceiving others online by creating profiles of individuals who do not exist in the real-world - represents the current moment on the converging timelines of social networking technology and the politics of online self-representation. This type of online deception signifies the culmination of several issues regarding users' relationships to cyberspace: reliance on technology for socialization; increasingly blurred correspondences between offline and online selves; users' propensities to value technological objects over living people; and humanity's predisposition for deception in day-to-day interactions. When all of these strands converge, the result is catfishing, a term coined following the 2011 documentary Catfish that has since spawned a TV show and a tell-all book. My argument moves from an examination of the histories of online hoaxes and social networking to a narrower focus on the social aspects of avoidance rhetoric surrounding the phenomenon to an even more pointed discussion of individual, self-professed motives behind such deception. This project is a call-to-action inviting readers to consider the authenticity of their own interactions - both online and in the physical real - and to champion a stronger correspondence between our offline identities and our online self-representations. In addition, by situating online identity creation as a rhetorical action, I argue that understanding the elements of catfishing can help with teaching first-year writing students about the rhetorical situation, including audience awareness, purpose, convention, tone, visualization, and ethos. Finally, I hope this project will revive a conversation in modern rhetoric and composition theory concerning online identity formation that has subsided within the last decade.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Ratliff, Clancy
Commitee: Dorwick, Keith, Ingram, Shelley, Piano, Doreen
School: University of Louisiana at Lafayette
Department: English
School Location: United States -- Louisiana
Source: DAI-A 76/11(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Pedagogy, Web Studies, Rhetoric
Keywords: Catfishing, Computer-mediated communication, Deliberate deception, First year writing
Publication Number: 3712554
ISBN: 978-1-321-89462-2
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