Date of Award

Spring 5-31-2018

Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of arts (BA)


Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences

First Advisor

Riki Thompson


This paper applied social semiotics and systemic functional theory to study visual narratives related to President Trump’s border wall project and U.S. immigration policy. The images were selected by new articles posted by The New York Times using search parameters “border wall” and “undocumented immigration” between the dates of March 13 – April 13, 2018. Images were selected and categorized based on visual themes related to the border wall and policy enforcement. Of these categories, two images were selected for vertical perspective, vector patterns, and gestures to discover the narratives. Analysis of the images showed that social power and hierarchical clashes based on authoritative positions which were realized through vertical perspective. Upon examination of images depicting people for vector patterns and vertical perspective revealed correlations to authority. Additionally, vector shapes formed by social actors displayed patterns of visual collectivization based on clothing, race, and gender. This study concluded with the idea of adding intertextual analysis to further understand how images and text work together more closely.