The following document is a capstone thesis project focusing on the unique experiences of graduate forensic coaches through lens of liminality, a performance theory used to describe a sense of being between social identities when going through a rite of passage. The author contends that this liminal experience has unique characteristics which are important to consider in the context of identity and forensic culture. In order to gather data, the author utilized qualitative, semi-structured interviews with current graduate forensic coaches. The resulting interviews were interpreted using a process of open coding to determine key themes of the experience. The author discovered that the most salient characteristics of the liminal experience for graduate forensic coaches included adapting to new institutional and geographic structures, shifting perspectives from competitor to coach, reconciling undergraduate with graduate level experiences in forensics, keeping roles and identities separated, motivation from intrinsic needs, and tensions in social relationships. Based on the participants' experiences, the author concludes that this particular manifestation of liminality is unique because the participants continue to seek validation they received during the competitive forensic years. Additionally, the liminal experience is non-directional and lacking a defined social identity to complete the rite of passage. Finally, the individualized cultures of forensic programs at various universities complicate any active effort to help graduate forensic coaches cope with the ambiguity inherent with the liminal state.


Leah White

Committee Member

Christopher Brown

Committee Member

Heather Hamilton

Date of Degree




Document Type



Master of Fine Arts (MFA)


Arts and Humanities

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License



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