Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Communication and Information



First Advisor

Dr. Alan DeSantis

Second Advisor

Dr. Jean-Marie Rouhier-Willoughby


The legend is a permanent fixture of human societies. Though the legends themselves are permanent, their functions and meanings can fluctuate as the context in which they are told and retold shifts. As societies move through history, certain authoritative institutions create narratives that direct those societies and frame debates within them. Issues neglected by these institutions yet experienced by members of the population can be said to be unconstructed. Social problems that have achieved some level of construction inevitably provoke those who dissent from those constructions.

In these situations, members of a society look for alternative means for talking about these problems. Often they turn to the contemporary legend for this purpose. This study reviews a sample of the most popular legends in the early part of 2012 to determine the ways members of American society were dealing with the unconstructed social problems of that time.