Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Chair(s)

Lynne S. McNeill


Christine Cooper-Rompato


Keith Grant-Davie


In the introduction of 2012 issue of The Journal of Folklore Research, Diane Goldstein and Amy Shuman issue a “call to arms for folklorists … to concentrate on the vernacular experience of the stigmatized.” (Goldstein and Shuman, 2012:116). Drawing on this call to arms, this thesis investigates how Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is portrayed in social media through memes and captioned images. I argue that the genres of memes and captioned images in digital folklore work to help mitigate the stigma of PTSD because the veneer of anonymity in the digital world allows people with PTSD to be willing to share their experiences and struggles.

With my findings on the use of memes and captioned images, my research demonstrates how digital folklore can be used to determine what education efforts are needed to mitigate stigma in the offline world. Through the focus on memes and captioned images relating to PTSD, I show that through the normalization of one mental health condition, digital folklore can help to alleviate stigma because the pervasive nature of digital culture allows for an influx of minimally moderated information, creating an avenue for understanding stigmatized groups.



Available for download on Monday, December 12, 2022