We are what we consume : true-crime, podcasts, and storytelling in the 21st century.


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Podcasts are an evolving technological phenomenon that promises consumers a level of narrative intimacy previously unseen in other forms of media. Their unique storytelling format presents an opportunity for individuals to access news and entertainment that rhetorically structures the world around them. True crime podcasts’ accessibility and popularity imbue their narratives as a site for further social, aesthetic, and qualitative inquiry. Stories told on true crime podcasts restructure the public’s understanding of crime and victimhood based on hegemonic ideologies and institutions of power. Despite podcasts’ increasing saliency, few have paid critical attention to podcasts as agents of oppression and entropy. This thesis identifies harmful master narratives commonly weaponized by true crime podcasts to better understand the evolving definitions of crime and victimhood in the United States. In recognizing true crime podcasts' intrinsically rhetorical nature, I also identify examples of resistance that introduce new ways of understanding the true crime genre.