The Sexiest Symbol: Marilyn Monroe

ASU Author/Contributor (non-ASU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Jessica Lynn Barker (Creator)
Appalachian State University (ASU )
Web Site:
Valerie Wieskamp

Abstract: This essay is a rhetorical analysis that reviews the concept of “ideographs” as it relates to verbal and visual rhetoric. I suggest that there is another form of ideograph—the “embodied ideograph.” I define the embodied ideograph as people who embody a particular ideology and are recognized by a mass group of people, whether consciously or subconsciously, throughout history. The famous American icon, Marilyn Monroe, exemplifies this concept and is used to demonstrate how an embodied ideograph is created. This essay investigates how Marilyn Monroe is considered a sex symbol, both during her time and in today’s society. This leads me to believe she is an embodied ideograph that represents sexuality, both from a male gaze and a female empowerment perspective. Additionally I make reference to public memory found especially within U.S. discourse. Lastly the essay explores the ways that embodied ideographs, like Marilyn Monroe, can be frozen in time with no control over their public personas.

Additional Information

Honors Project
Barker, J. (2018). "The Sexiest Symbol: Marilyn Monroe." Unpublished Honors Thesis. Appalachian State University, Boone, NC.
Language: English
Date: 2018
Marilyn Monroe, Ideograph, Sexuality, Public Memory, Frozen In Time

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