Reading the Stanford Campus

Reading the Stanford Campus

Overview: This activity invites students to close read a space on campus by identifying the space's audience and purpose and determining which parts of the space are private/public and welcoming/unwelcoming to visitors. This activity helps students understand the rhetoric of spaces and how people shape interactions within spaces.

Activity title: Reading the Stanford Campus

Authors: Meg Formato & Ashley Newby

Activity brief description: For this activity, students are asked to pick a space on campus (e.g. the Stanford Bookstore, Windhover, and create:space in Lathrop Library) and learn about that space on its website. After figuring out what can be learned about the space on the website, students then walk through the space for about 20 minutes and take photographs of its interesting details. Students then write a short paragraph that responds to some questions about the space, including its intended audience, its purpose, and its organization. Students then return to class to analyze the spaces they visited, interrogating the meaning of the space and who/what the space values.

Course: PWR 1 (though could be adapted for PWR 2)

Activity Length & Schedule: 40-50 minutes, beginning of the quarter (Weeks 1-4)

Activity goals:  Through this assignment, students will

  • Learn about the rhetorical situation
  • Understand how rhetoric can be applied to physical spaces
  • See the relationship between visual, spatial, and textual rhetorics
  • Identify spaces of equity/inequity on-campus

Activity details:

See a handout designed for the Leland Scholars Program and a handout designed with a technology focus for Meg Formato's PWR 1 class.