Date of Award


Degree Type

Closed Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Michael Bruner - Chair

Second Advisor

Mary Stuckey


Uncovering the Range of Intentions and Interpretations Associated with N-Word Usage in American Film by Nneka Logan Under the Direction of Michael Bruner ABSTRACT This thesis is an analysis of contemporary N-word usage. Key points are that there is more than one N-word in circulation, and that “nigger,” the racial slur, is only one conception of the N-word. A second point is that “nigga” is a separate word with a separate scope of meaning. I also argue that usage of “nigga” is a complex communicative phenomenon that cannot be essentialized in terms of race, socioeconomic status and other social factors. I argue that contemporary N-word usage is not an exclusively black cultural endeavor, but in fact a multiracial phenomenon. To support my assertions I employ communication, race and N-word scholarship, and I apply the scholarship to the text of American film. A study of this kind is significant because increasing numbers of people are being exposed to the N-words in a variety of contexts, but many are unaware of their important semantic differences. INDEX WORDS: Nigger, Nigga, N-word, Race, Interracial Communication, Hip Hop, Pop Culture