Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in English Composition



First Reader/Committee Chair

Vickers, Caroline


The purpose of this project is to understand how humor works in expert-novice identity construction in podcasts. I employ a Community of Practice (Lave and Wenger, 1989) framework to examine the social hierarchy among the participants of a regular podcast. I am particularly concerned with uncovering how novice members construct themselves and are constructed by expert members through humor, as well as how expert members socialize novice members to participate in the kinds of humor practices that index membership in the Community of Practice (CoP).

Rooster Teeth is an internet-based entertainment production company. They produce a weekly podcast which they make available for free on the internet. The podcast participants represent a small CoP with expert/novice differentiation. Combining a corpus linguistic approach with an ethnographic approach, I collected, transcribed, and studied several podcasts that were recorded over a two-year period, beginning with the first few podcasts where founding members established the practices and their roles as experts. Then, I examine the performances of three novices over time. Two of them follow a periphery to core trajectory and become regular members of the podcast while one remained on the periphery. I discovered that teasing and modeling are the primary tools that the experts use to socialize novices and that within Rooster Teeth, novices have the power to negotiate practice from the periphery of the community. This study demonstrates the power that novices may wield within CoPs, and reveals how powerful a socializing tool humor can be.