Course Final Project – Spatial Rhetoric & Locative Media


The final project should work towards your own research agenda as much as possible. Towards that end, I offer three options, all of which build from the course readings and assignments. Whatever option is chosen, the eventual project should respond to the course readings/themes/methods by focusing on some aspect of spatial rhetorics and/or locative media.

Note: Students are welcome to re/use any of the prior responses and/or case studies for proposal/projects.

Project Proposal

A proposal and bibliography must be completed for all projects. This is the space in which you will declare which option (below) you intend to pursue to fulfill the final project. While the proposal is not meant to be a strict contract, it is designed to get students thinking about and working on projects early. Please also include a working bibliography that cites sources you’re already working with and those you plan to work with. Also, I would like to conference with each student about the proposal before it is approved. DUE: Nov. 3

Option One – Traditional Essay

This option asks a student to compose a 6000-7000 word essay concerning spatial rhetoric and/or locative media that can be further developed for a conference presentation, a dissertation chapter, or an early draft of an article for publication consideration. Each essay should identify a “productive reading” (Muckelbauer, 2000) from the course material and build a frame (McNabb, 2001) that identifies a specific situation/problem in a current disciplinary discussion in which your project will attempt to contribute.

Option Two – Project Plan

This option would allow a student to propose, outline, and provide an initial design for a substantial location-based digital project. For example, a number of my former colleagues developed plans for a location-based, historical video game as work for a graduate course in South Carolina. That game started as a way to think through how gaming, rhetoric, public history, and computer science education might weave together to form a productive conversation, and the final outcome included a rationale, sketches towards the game’s design, and a list of resources available for the game’s content (via public archives). The project was later extended into a multi-person collaborative effort called “Ghosts of the Horseshoe” led by H. Cooley and D. Buell (link below). Other examples might include composing a research plan for a location-based object of study or a rationale for mapping spatial dynamics of social practices in a specific site.

Obviously, your course project need to have a final realization that approaches this scale, but the project could offer an opportunity to work out a conceptual framing for a larger project through a scholarly informed set of technical sketches. Students best positioned to engage in this project are those who might be further along in her research and whose overall graduate work includes an needed, unrealized location-based object of study.

Projects would most likely include several artifacts: a project rationale (8-10 pages), technical documentation (interface wireframes), asset list (detailed sketch of data resources), and a bibliography (for current and future work).

Option Three – Imaginary App

This option gets its name and concept from the similarly titled essay collection The Imaginary App (Miller & Matviyenko, 2014). In that collection, contributors theorized the uses and futures of “apps” commonly found on mobile devices. Appended to these essays were brief designs for non-existent apps, full color realizations of the app icon and written snippets that explained each “icon of the impossible.” This option is similar to Option Two but, in place of a reasonable and realistic plan for future development grounded in prior work, this plan instead speculates on future possibilities without a need to find actualization in that speculation.

My use of speculation is informed by the recent SpeculateThis! (An Uncertain Commons, 2013) and Speculate Everything (Dunne and Raby, 2013). Speculation would be a compliment to critical modes of inquiry but, rather than pointing out and revealing gaps in knowledge or practice, speculations would offer future-oriented projections. These projections would identify “weak signals” or lesser practices to amplify by composing a possible, albeit improbable, trajectory of practices and relationships that affirm current material and spatial relationships differently. To put it otherwise, this option asks you to use our class readings, discussions, case studies as material to help you respond to a “what if?” question that you yourself pose.

Again, not unlike Option Two, this option would necessarily require several artifacts: scholarly rationale (8-10 pages), interface wireframes, app mockups, and/or bibliography.




Dunne, A., & Raby, F. (2013). Speculative Everything: Design, Fiction, and Social Dreaming. MIT Press.

Miller, P. D., & Matviyenko, S. (Eds.). (2014). The Imaginary App. MIT Press.

McNabb, R. (2001). Making the Gesture: Graduate Student Submissions and the Expectation of Journal Referees. Composition Studies29.1: 9-26.

Muckelbauer, J. (2000). On reading differently: through Foucault’s resistance. College English, 63.1: 71-94.

Uncertain Commons (2013). SpeculateThis! Duke University Press.

Ghosts of the Horseshoe. Online:



Some Resources

Mock Flow – A Wireframe App (Limited Free Use)

InVision – An App Prototyping Service (Free)

AppMachine – An App Prototyping Service (Limited Free Use)

Hybrica – App Prototyping Tool (Limited Free Use)

Lynda Classes – Quick Tutorials on a range of software tools (Free for UT Students)