All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Cynthia Ryan

Advisory Committee Members

Allison Chapman

Lois Christensen

Bruce McComiskey

Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name by School

Master of Arts (MA) College of Arts and Sciences


Reactions to current events from across the political spectrum highlight a journalistic retributive narrative framework that is ubiquitous in the American media. News articles from the childhood obesity debate support claims that journalists on both left and right interpret this story - and by implication, all stories - through a retributive cultural lens. Burke's rhetorical analysis tool, dramatism, is used to examine the rhetoric on all sides of the issue and demonstrate the common retributive aspects of the narratives, regardless of the social or political orientations of the writers and their affiliations. The retributive narrative is connected to American justice ideals and to the linear, combative traditions of Western argument. Restorative approaches to conflict are examined for possibilities to re-focus debates on improvements and solutions rather than continued finger pointing. This paper synthesizes dramatism, journalism, and the emerging field of restorative practices to point to a habit of limited perception of justice in American media narratives, examining the unconscious biases which underpin current American media dialogues, and offering restorative practices as a model for a full realization of justice.