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Date of Award


Access Type

Campus Access

Document type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program


First Advisor

Erica Scharrer

Second Advisor

Michael Morgan

Third Advisor

Elena Carbone

Subject Categories

Mass Communication | Medical Education | Women's Studies


Seventy-four female participants took part in an experiment that investigated whether implementing a critical cultural studies media literacy (CCSML) curriculum would result in a decreased drive for thinness, a greater sense of empowerment, and a better grasp of media literacy for women in treatment for eating disorders at Hartford Hospital's Institute of Living (IOL). The treatment group (N=44) participated in weekly 50-minute sessions of the ERA (education-recognition-activism) curriculum, which was implemented in conjunction with traditional eating disorder treatment. The ERA curriculum utilized in this study consisted of a three-pronged approach to eating disorder treatment and was comprised of four lessons. The first session reviewed the five tenets of media literacy. In the second session participants explored media artifacts that trigger emotions that contribute to their eating disorders. During the third session participants performed a personal inventory during which they determined what they needed to do in order to have a healthy and fulfilling life. The fourth and final session asked participants to write a letter to a media figure or corporation that either undermines or promotes positive body image. The control group (N=30) consisted of individuals undergoing treatment at IOL who received the standard of care.

Quantitative results revealed that while participants in the treatment group did demonstrate a greater level of media literacy, they did not demonstrate a statistically significant difference in terms of a greater sense of empowerment or a decreased drive for thinness. Qualitative results reinforce the statistical findings that participants in the ERA curriculum did grasp the tenets of media literacy. Furthermore, the qualitative results suggest that participants valued and enjoyed the ERA curriculum.