Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Eubanks, Philip, 1954-

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of English


Short story; English language--Rhetoric; Memes; Online authorship


Greentext stories, a relatively new genre of short fiction, emerged from the image board site 4chan in early 2010. Although 4chan is known for its off-color, offensive humor, the popularity of greentext stories on the imageboard as well as on other websites warrants a serious rhetorical analysis. Drawing primarily on ideas from Collin Gifford Brooke, Roland Barthes, Kenneth Burke, and Carolyn Miller, greentext stories are first posted to 4chan as part of a performative dialogue, creating threads which are large writerly texts made of smaller readerly ones; this offers anonymous 4chan users, who tend to be outsiders from mainstream society, a way to identify with each other through shared stories. As users share notable stories on more mainstream sites, Ridolfo and DeVoss's idea of rhetorical velocity takes over, allowing one's text to be reappropriated and even recomposed by another. This process allows the genre to creatively rewrite popular stories based on established archetypes. The way in which greentext stories spread and are rewritten raises key questions of authorship and copyright and how far one can go in appropriating and rewriting the work of others, including for profit, as is seen with recently published collections of greentext stories. As the genre continues to spread, it is certainly possible that claims in authorship will begin to increase in a genre that was originally authorless.


Advisors: Philip Eubanks.||Committee members: David Gorman; John Schaeffer.||Includes bibliographical references.||Includes illustrations.


35 pages




Northern Illinois University

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