Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Michael LeVan, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Abraham Khan, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Chris McRae, Ph.D.


emotional investment, history, mythologizing, subjectivity


This thesis argues that critical understanding of historical narratives needn’t be limited to cold, clinical applications of logic and reason. By doing a close textual reading of Frank Miller and Lynn Varley’s graphic novel, 300 and Zack Snyder’s 2007 film adaptation, I posit that critical analysis of popular narratives is better served when pathos takes a central role. Traditional rhetorical criticism tends to favor empirical evidence and fact over emotional, narrative truth. Yet, the writing, recounting and interpretation of history are more akin to arts than sciences. Historical narratives are subject to the same influences and techniques that make poetry, sculpture and music evocative and memorable. Therefore, the closest method by which to recreate the experience of historical events is through pathos. Pathos can serve to focus the attention of an audience and cultivates an intuitive understanding of historical, social, and cultural events.

Included in

Communication Commons