Document Type

Thesis - University Access Only

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department / School

Communication Studies and Theatre


This study analyzed the popular film When Harry Met Sally to examine what types of rhetorical behavior might be communicated from popular culture film based on how masculinity and femininity are depicted. As a result, the study speculates whether or not film rhetoric is transforming its standards away from traditional ideals to those that are more consistent with feminist theory. When Harry Met Sally is a film based around the growing friendship of a man and a woman. The interactions involving these friends and the public depict behavioral stereotypes comparable to authentic cross-gender friendship situations. The method of analysis used was based on models obtained from feminist theory and gender literature. Four friendship negotiations were utilized in the film before, during, and after a friendship is established. Negotiation conditions were found and discussed for each of the situations. Film depictions were then compared to existing research, revealing instances in which stereotypes may/may not communicate realistic messages for film audiences. Future feminist theory research was discussed.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

When Harry met Sally (Motion picture)

Man-woman relationships in motion pictures

Sex role in motion pictures


Feminist theory



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University