Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Lisa Flores

Second Advisor

Peter Simonson

Third Advisor

Bryan Taylor


This thesis explores Centralia, Pennsylvania, an “abandoned” town that now remains mostly through its status as a ghost town. I argue that the town functions as a discarded space that holds particular rhetorical remnants, which negotiate and circulate public memory in the former town. I call rhetorical remnants those structures of the built environment that remain and continue to rhetorically participate in the circulation of public memory. The rhetorical remnants I will explore include Centralia’s municipal building and its last remaining church. I will also argue that Centralia’s Graffiti Highway functions as both a rhetorical remnant of Centralia and as a discarded space in its own right. Finally, this thesis considers how discarded spaces, which allow for a multiplicity of voices to contribute to the negotiation of public memory, are sites of emergent potential by way of ambient reimagination, which allows for a consideration of future possibilities related to equality and sustainability.