Electronic Theses and Dissertations



Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Committee Chair

Christina Moss

Committee Member

Antonio de Velasco

Committee Member

Ron Roach

Committee Member

David Stephens


This study interrogates the ways wilderness spaces become understood as sacred places through rhetoric, using Grandfather Mountain in Western North Carolina as a case study. Using close reading, rhetorical field methods, and social media content analysis, this dissertation examines the rhetorical interpretation, ritualization, contestation, and commodification of wilderness as it comes to be understood and interacted with as sacred. This study offers three significant and interrelated interventions. First, it interrogates how rhetoric works to designate a sacred place. While certain places are understood to be sacred because of their spiritual, historical, or social significance or their natural ecological uniqueness, what can be elucidated is how notions of sacredness circulate and recirculate through discourse and spatiality. Second, this study explores the political, social, and cultural consequences of a place being rhetorically constructed as sacred. Third, this study examines the politics of place and place-making by closely interrogating ideas of sacredness and place, particularly in the context of how nature becomes designated as valuable in its own terms rather than in the capitalist terms of commodification or colonial imperialism.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

Dissertation or thesis originally submitted to ProQuest.


Open Access