Date of Award

12-1-2015

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department

Speech Communication

First Advisor

Gray, Jonathan

Abstract

Over the past two millennia, dominant Western narratives of the Persian Wars have established a problematic East-West binary in which Greece is represented as a defender of democracy whose improbable victory over the Persians laid the foundation for the development of Western civilization and the Persians are represented as a power hungry, totalitarian “Other” determined to subjugate all whom they encounter. Frank Miller’s graphic novel, 300, and its subsequent film adaptations, 300, and 300: Rise of an Empire (collectively referred to as the 300 franchise) have reinforced and contributed new problematic elements to the dominant Persian War narratives with contemporary visual representations of key historical figures, locations, and events as they pertain to the conflict. In this thesis I conduct a visual rhetorical analysis of the 300 franchise to identify and explain its problematic visual representational tactics for both the Greeks and Persians. Next, I conduct a visual rhetorical analysis of a non-Western Persian Wars counter-narrative, Ramin Abhari’s Xerxes Speaks. Throughout my analysis of Xerxes Speaks I identify instances in which the counter-narrative addresses 300’s problematic representations of the East as “Other.” I conclude by discussing the importance of critiquing visual representations in order to continue to disrupt dominant Western Persian War narratives and subsequently try to establish a currently marginalized Persian perspective on the Persian Wars.

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