Date of Award
Master of Science
Communication and Information
Laura Miller, Lori Amber Roessner, Courtney Childers, Nick Geidner
As we live our lives in an increasingly growing digital world, like-minds tend to gather. These like-minds, when gathered around a media franchise, become known as a fandom. Fandom culture can often shape an individual’s identity, as they become more heavily engrossed in the lore surrounding the media. Permeating this individual identity is the group identity, which allows for the fandom to be labeled as a community. When belonging to a very popular media’s fandom, such as Star Wars, it is rather easy to become completely engrossed in the characters and their stories, long after the credits roll, and that is the very nature of franchise media: there are books, television shows, video games, comic books, collecting, and conventions that foster an added sense of community and belonging. Fandom in the age of social media makes for a constantly-connected experience, making it easy for a participant to constantly exist within the fandom, blurring the lines between reality and fiction.
Parasocial breakup is a very real phenomenon, and when considering the nature of modern fandom, one can observe nonfictional emotions that exist in response to the fictional world. This work documents the parasocial breakup anxieties that existed within the Star Wars Twitter fandom after the death of the sequel trilogy’s villain, Kylo Ren.
Sutherland, Alexandria P., "STAR WARS, PARASOCIAL RELATIONSHIPS AND BREAKUPS, AND THE FORCE…OF FANDOM. " Master's Thesis, University of Tennessee, 2020.