Andrew Zalot's Dissertation Proposal Defense

Please join us for the proposal defense of Andrew Zalot's dissertation: "Tweet of the Town": Synthesizing Local and Social Media Discourse on Book Bans


Book bans have been an issue in the library and education fields for some time now. Although book bans have traditionally been a local issue, the advent of social media has brought forth engagement and discourse from online communities that go beyond library and school sites. Using the banning of Art Spiegelman’s Maus in McMinn County, Tennessee, I intend to explore the intersection of local and online communities during a book ban. Spiegelman’s graphic memoir was removed from the school district’s eighth-grade curriculum in January 2022, with word spreading online a few weeks after it. Once news of the ban reached national attention, it became clear that the Maus case was no longer a strictly local issue and illustrates the potential for social media to amplify discourse around book bans.

In this exploratory study, I intend to collect data via Twitter and through interviews with residents of McMinn County to understand how local and online communities intersect. I apply Danielle Allen’s discourse flow to this study to show how discourse flows between local and online communities. Using what I refer to as “social media intervention,” I argue that social media enables discourse and engagement beyond the physical boundaries of a local community. Social media intervention operates within Allen’s flow dynamics model, and I intend to explore how communities in local and online spaces intersect and engage in the wake of a book ban. I am also interested in the role social media intervention can play in providing young people agency during book bans. Young people historically are often limited in their ability to influence the appeals process for a book ban and I intend to use part of this study to understand what role social media plays in driving youth agency.

View the proposal

Andrew Zalot's doctoral committee includes Assistant Professor Rachel Magee (Chair), Associate Professor Emily Knox, (Research Director), Associate Professor Kathleen McDowell, and Professor Marianne Martens.

Questions? Contact Andrew Zalot.