School of Communication and Digital Content


Master of Arts in Communication (MA)


Christopher Underation


Rhetoric, Semiotics, Theology, Psychoanalysis, Lacan, Sons of Anarchy


Communication | Religion | Religious Thought, Theology and Philosophy of Religion | Television


This thesis attempts to uncover the religious nature of communication by re-visioning and situating French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan’s theory of communication within a Christian theological context. By critically engaging Lacan’s theoretical concepts of the Imaginary, the Symbolic, and the Real within this context, the thesis is able to access the intersection of rhetorical semiotics, psychoanalysis, and Christian theology to have a more fruitful understanding of how meaning is exchanged between subjects. Lacan’s inter-disciplinary affirmation of rhetoric and psychoanalysis has been able to produce incredible explanatory potential for how meaning, as the bedrock of speech and communication, operates through the psyche of the human subject. What Lacan has not been able to do, likely because of his ambivalent religious history, is account for how the supernatural operates through and against communication. This thesis seeks a corrective to that dilemma by centering God as the center of the Lacanian Real. As a result, the thesis will psychoanalyze the Sons of Anarchy as a popular secular fantasy to determine that all communication operates on a symbolic spectrum of avowal and disavowal in relation to the divine real. By analyzing the rhetorical semiotics of the series’ characters, the axiological foundation of the Sons decision-making processes, and the show’s representation and tropological response to trauma, this thesis will conclude that all rhetoric is inherently religious rhetoric, and all communication is, by nature, Christian communication.