Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Rhetorics, Communication, and Information Design

Committee Chair/Advisor

Vitanza, Victor J

Committee Member

Haynes , Cynthia

Committee Member

Skinner , Martha

Committee Member

Young , Jason


Big-box culture - generally thought of as sprawl - is often suppressed or ignored within architectural design curricula. The overwhelming pervasiveness of big-box culture threatens the foundation of our discipline. We turn away, though it generates the context for many lives to happily unfold in this country. We remain only partially engaged with big-box because we do not fully understand its complexity. We argue with it, but at cross-purposes. This trans-disciplinary project brings rhetorical scholarship to bear on big-box culture. Emphasizing pedagogy, it offers architects and urbanists opportunities to design with more awareness about the ubiquitous, what drives it, and why its there.
The project advances the concept ubiquitous libidinal infrastructures, defined as the externalized (physical and/ or digital) manifestations of human desire-driven energy flows. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and Orlando, Florida are used as primary subjects of investigation through which theories of Jean-François Lyotard and Gregory Ulmer are introduced into the field of urbanism. In turn, this material and spatial re-reading of Lyotard and Ulmer offers the field of rhetoric important and timely access into the fields of urbanism and architecture, pushing both disciplines toward more actionable research on urbanism in light of today's digital and networked society.
The project also includes an account of a research venture involving two designers who intervened within the animal rendering industry. The author's close encounter with rendering serves as another subject matter by which the concept of ubiquitous libidinal infrastructures gets developed. This chapter reveals a side of America's libidinal infrastructure that we are blissfully unaware of. Conversely, it importantly exposes the rendering industry as a vital infrastructure supporting the standards of living within American urbanism
This project argues that deeper investigations into big-box culture require disciplinary invention and expansion. It demonstrates that rhetoric can help designers and planners include a fuller spectrum of urbanism within their analysis. This design research project doesn't try to solve the problem of big-box. It seeks to tease out, by way of trans-disciplinary invention, what we do not yet fully understand about it in order to bear witness to new architectural idioms.

Included in

Architecture Commons



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