Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in English Composition



First Reader/Committee Chair

Carlson, David


This thesis examines the projects outlined by the Situationist philosophers and their impact on revolutionizing consciousness. Alongside of this examination this thesis demonstrates how the appropriate rhetorical means in conjunction with street art—specifically the work of Banksy—may lead to the successful implementation and execution of the Situationist's projects. This thesis examines the concept of the spectacle as developed by the Situationists as its object of critique and the concepts of culture, unitary urbanism, psychogeography, détournement and dérive as the framework in which the spectacle can be successfully critiqued in order to foster a more critical consciousness. In addition to this framework my claim is that the aforementioned elements are accomplished by the work of Banksy and his ability to alter the material conditions of our reality through his rhetorical construction of material enactments by creating appropriate and kairotic works which provide life to the Situationist's projects and affords the potentiality of revolutionizing consciousness.

In Figure 1. Banksy critiques the idea of spectacularization. There is a fear that technology will distract individuals’ from living and experiencing their lives to the fullest, that their desire to record moments will get in the way with actually living through experiences. In fact the concept of recording events, for many people, is bringing more life to those events than the event itself. We’re currently living in a society where the record of the thing itself is greater than the thing itself. Of course, whenever something is recorded it can be spectacularized--elevated to a greater degree of importance--and shared with many. At the same time, urban architectural achievements have become idols unto themselves. People visit the Eiffel Tower for the purposes of visiting the Eiffel Tower. Even in the act of being a tourist or a spectator we are being placed in positions of passivity. The goal is to absorb whatever man made phenomena has been constructed for the purposes of enjoying it intrinsically without understanding why.

In their article "Rhetoric and Materiality in the Museum Park at the North Carolina Museum of Art" Kenneth Zagacki and Victoria Gallagher rhetorically analyze the complex and interwoven spaces of the North Carolina Museum of Art. Their research claims that "the move from symbolicity to materiality involves a shift from examining representations (what does a text mean/what are the persuader's goals) to examining enactments (what does a text or artifact do/what are the consequences beyond that of the persuader's goals) and, as Carole Blair suggests, to considering the significance a particular artifact or text's material existence: What does it do with or against other artifacts? And how does it act on persons?" (Zagacki and Gallagher 172). This move from the purely symbolic importance of a text or artifact to its materiality is exceptionally important when discussing how potential Situationist projects can be materialized into and implemented effectively in the real world. The Situationists were essentially radical realists—their critiques need to exist in the most material form possible in order to generate the conscious liberation that they desired. That being said Margaret LaWare and Victoria Gallagher "...suggest that material rhetorics contribute to discourses of public identity by inviting visitors to see and experience landscape (or physical context) around them in new, and very much embodied ways" (as cited in Zagacki and Gallagher 172). The recursive nature of material rhetorics allows us to analyze exactly how environment's are affecting individual's subjectivities and how they too can go about affecting their world in new ways.

I turn to this article specifically for the methodology that Zagacki and Gallagher construct in order to discuss in a more concrete fashion the rhetorical complexity of these spaces and their potential affect on visitors:

we argue, through two material enactments of the human/nature interface that we characterize as ‘‘inside/outside’’ and ‘‘regenerative/transformative.’’ By ‘‘inside/outside,’’ we refer to the experience of moving (1) between constructed spaces, such as a museum space or an urban landscape, to less constructed, more organic spaces such as the outdoor park or the rural landscape; and (2) between what we refer to as natural history and human history. By ‘‘regenerative/transformative,’’ we mean moving (1) from natural states to human-constructed states and back again to nature, and (2) from one state of understanding to another. The capacity to create spaces of attention that call forth particular experiences reveals the potential rhetorical impact and reach of the Museum Park’s material forms. (173)

The framework established here is specifically most affective when discussing these specific spaces—not every material space will have an inside/outside which would lend itself to phenomenological observation. However, for the purposes of this project, I find it important to reflect on how the "static/dynamic" enactments produced by the space harboring Banksy's work functions as a method to produce the "concrete/utopia" enactment by détourning expectations of space via messages whose kairotic nature—its location in time and place—and content create a specific psychogeography which can revolutionize our expectations and engagement with the world.