Date Approved


Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department or School

Communication, Media and Theatre Arts

Committee Member

Dennis Patrick

Committee Member

Jeannette Kindred

Committee Member

Doris J. Fields


Research in the area of performance poetry is still relatively new to the field of communication. Using Hecht’s Communication Theory of Identity, this study explores performance poetry as a communicative tool for identity management. By observing the performances of five poets from six seasons of HBO’s Def Poetry Jam, a thematic analysis of the communication practices that occurred during the performances was used to code the processes of identity management. Additionally, this study explores how validation of enacted identity occurs between the poets and their audiences. Findings suggest that performance poetry could effectively be utilized as a tool in identity management that would offer both a macro and a micro evaluation of multiple identities on multiple levels; and validation occurred as either a natural or prompted response. Overall, this study demonstrates the usefulness of performance poetry in not only self-expression by also as valuable instrument in managing identity.