Date of Award


Degree Name

Communication Studies


College of Liberal Arts

Type of Degree


Document Type


First Advisor

Bert Gross

Second Advisor

Camilla Brammer

Third Advisor

Edward Woods


This study examines connections between accent, linguistic discrimination, and stereotyping in portrayals of West Virginia film characters. Ten films featuring West Virginia characters were examined for accent and stereotyping: The Right Stuff (Kaufman, 1983), Matewan (Sayles, 1987), Blaze (Shelton, 1989), The Silence of the Lambs (Demme, 1991), October Sky (Johnston, 1999), Hannibal (Scott, 2001), A Beautiful Mind (Howard, 2001), The Mothman Prophecies (Pellington, 2002), Wrong Turn (Schmidt, 2003), and Win a Date with Tad Hamilton! (Luketic, 2004). Coders were employed to score character accents. Stereotyping data was gathered by comparing portrayals with stereotypical traits associated with Appalachian and/or hillbilly characters. Thematic analysis provided further insight into stereotyping of both West Virginia and West Virginians across the sample. This study is modeled on and found support for Lippi-Green (1997). While West Virginia characters were the focus of this study, this type of research may be beneficial for any stereotyped accented group.


West Virginia -- In motion pictures.

Stereotyping -- In motion pictures.