Dissertations, Theses and Capstone Projects

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in American Studies (MAST)


American Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Stacy Keltner

Second Advisor

Dr. Griselda Thomas


The mass media governs relations among social groups, manufactures political sentiment and shapes opinions on economic relations between individuals to reproduce a self-perpetuating system of power for a minute elite. The construction and organized distribution of manipulated cultural images that communicate embellished or patently false messages about a social group is central to the success of a capitalist economic system. This thesis reveals how media production negatively influences public perception of housework and the women who perform the labor and thwarts efforts to obtain and enforce legislation to protect native and immigrant domestic workers. Using contemporary representations from The Help, August: Osage County, The Nanny, and Devious Maids, this study is an historical and literary analysis explaining how media images create harmful stereotypes about women of color in U.S. society and the capabilities they have as laborers. For women to prosper, substantive change by employers, the media and the public must occur in the legacy attached to domestic work as economically subordinated.