Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Michael J. Salvo

Committee Chair

Michael J. Salvo

Committee Member 1

Jennifer L. Bay

Committee Member 2

Samantha Blackmon

Committee Member 3

Patricia A. Sullivan


This dissertation presents wayfinding—the process of orienting oneself amid the myriad users, technologies, and digital spaces impacting any writing work—as a research methodology for contextualizing writing in mobile environments. Central to web design and non-web service design, wayfinding is an important addition to rhetoric and writing studies. First, it is descriptive: it observes and records first, showing how people go about tasks, and revealing relationships among people and their environments. Second, it helps when people get lost and then found. It records traces of the mental work people do to get unlost. Finding themselves, peoples’ maps help them both narrate the experience of finding their way as well as to recover their process by “reading over the map,” a process central to chapter 4. Third, wayfinding informs the scholarly representation of method, allowing for discussions of research to be grounded in a contextual, reflexive methodology of practice. We find ourselves, as scholars, amid the stories we tell to make sense of the fields of study we pursue and chapter 5 includes articulations of our scholarly wayfinding conversations. These stories describe how being self-conscious about using the design language of wayfinding will help keep rhetorical methodology in the forefront of our conversations about mobile writing and research practices.

Included in

Rhetoric Commons