Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Media Studies


Dr. Daniel Robinson

Second Advisor

Dr. Sharon Sliwinski


This thesis explores the promotional activities of five Ontario universities, bringing together scholarly work in history, education, marketing, consumer culture, semiotics, representation, and ideology to consider how institutions portray themselves to prospective undergraduate students. Visually and textually, each institution now constructs a brand, positions itself competitively, and shapes the ways in which it desires to be perceived. In promotional materials, universities attempt to balance conflicting roles as both cultivators of culture and the liberal arts, as well as centers of innovation and training in the “knowledge economy.” It is concluded that, in promotional materials, universities take the rhetorical middle ground, claiming to have the best of both worlds. They gloss over conflicting agendas, idealize the academic environment, and contribute to a “student consumer” mentality among prospective students by emphasizing convenience, credentials, and career prospects.



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