Constituting the monster inside: Ideological effects of post-apocalyptic depictions in The Walking Dead

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Virginia Tech

Working from Charland's (1987) description of constitutive rhetoric, this thesis is concerned what the popular zombie apocalypse television series The Walking Dead (TWD) has to say regarding survival behavior in a post-apocalyptic world. TWD's plot focuses primarily on the relationships between survivor characters situated among the crumbling remains of society and humanity. An attempt is made to show how TWD (1) establishes a common ideology among its characters, and therefore (2) constitutes its characters as a primary audience through an ideology of inhumanity by three narrative ideological effects. In doing so, the study aims to advance understanding of constitutive rhetoric in a temporal sense and also to emphasize that popular culture artifacts suggest viewers as secondary audiences and implied auditors tied to ideologies. The results of this analysis suggest the new order of a post-apocalyptic world binds survivors into a collective and transhistorical subject. These characters are tied to their past before the apocalypse and also become relatively relatable for viewers.

constitutive rhetoric, ideology, narratives, The Walking Dead