Date Approved


Degree Type

Campus Only Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department or School

English Language and Literature

Committee Member

Robin Lucy, PhD, Thesis Chair

Committee Member

Paul Bruss, PhD


This project addresses the impact urban space has on individuals. Representations of New York, New Orleans, and Detroit are used to demonstrate the interconnectedness among space, people, and social issues. Social issues manifest themselves in urban decay, and the inhabitants react to this phenomenon emotionally and artistically. Some inhabitants demonstrate their relationship with space by responding with material production of housing and art, which they accomplish by building without exploiting the environment the way the manufacturing of commodities often does. The relationship is also revealed through residents’ critical reactions to specific crises such as September 11th and Hurricane Katrina and through various writers’ reflections on the cities’ large-scale political histories. Photography and graphic novels are used in the discussion of the human bond with the environment, and the images created by these mediums demand an awareness of environmental and spatial injustice.