Department of Communication
Public Address Conference
Scott Tulloch

Archaeologies and Rhetorical Geographies of Urban Space: (Re)Arranging Atlanta

Urban space cannot be separated from structures of discourse and symbols of public address. I ground this dissertation in the rhetorical geography of Atlanta, a multilayered and living artifact perpetually rearranged in the power/knowledge of (post)industrialism, the civil rights movement, waves of Sun Belt migration, tourism, and environmentalism. My cases are drawn from Atlanta, but their relevance exceeds those boundaries and is broadly representative of the role of discourse and rhetoric in the (re)arrangement of urban space. I engage three limitations of rhetorical analyses of places, disproportionate focus on: (1) discrete places, better conforming to notions of readable texts; (2) memory places, sustaining a temporalcentric perspective where the place is subsidiary to their rhetorical histories; (3) majestic places, obscuring the ubiquity of rhetorical places in everyday life. The contribution of this dissertation is methodological, enabling movement beyond current thresholds. I retrieve Foucault’s archaeological approach and conceptualization of the “statement,” the elemental unit of discursive formations. Attention to a statement involves apprehending: rarity, what is said and not said as indicative of legitimate boundaries of knowledge; exteriority, the external conditions of a statement’s existence; and accumulation, how statements are preserved and rules that govern their (re)appearance. Urban space studied as a discursive formation enables comprehension of contingent unities of dispersed places, from extraordinary memorial to banal street corner, across time and space. Atlanta’s rhetorical geography is mapped in five discursive statements: Atlanta as “Terminus,” Atlanta as “The City Too Busy To Hate,” Atlanta as “World City,” Atlanta as “The City of Trees,” and Atlanta as “Hotlanta.” While the statements are variable, unities are evident in ascended god terms and power/knowledge of “urban growth” and “development,” disproportionately governing Atlanta as a discursive formation. Close textual analysis of rhetorical artifacts associated with each statement is coupled with in situ rhetorical field methods, where urban space functions as an archive of sustained and layered impresses of statements on the physical environment. The approach indicates dialogue between the symbolic and material dimensions of urban space as a surface enabling and constraining knowledge, power, and subjectivity.

Scott Tulloch
Georgia State University 

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