Date of Award

Spring 5-10-2013

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Dr. George Pullman

Second Advisor

Dr. Elizabeth Lopez

Third Advisor

Dr. Melissa McLeod


The word “queer” generates mixed feelings. For some, it is a way to denigrate gays and lesbians, though, in recent years, those in LGBT communities have re-appropriated the term and have given it a more positive spin. This project aims to investigate exactly that kind of social action, specifically, looking at the way some take socially constructed norms and queer them in order to develop new meanings. First, this thesis explores how social norms impacted identity creation in ancient Rome and Greece. It then surveys the theories behind norms, along with their formation and maintenance in current society. Next, this project looks at queer theory and how norms have shaped the ways we build our identities, and vice versa. Finally, this research takes a rhetorical perspective by applying components of the canon to different elements of identity cultivation and presentation, with invention representing the former and delivery the latter.