The Rhetorical Ecology of an Urban Wetland Complex

Thumbnail Image

Persistent link to this item

View Statistics

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


The Rhetorical Ecology of an Urban Wetland Complex

Published Date




Thesis or Dissertation


The Hackensack Meadowlands, a feature of the Hackensack-Passaic Watershed, is a thirty square-mile urban and estuarine wetland in northeastern New Jersey on the outskirts of New York City. As urban wetlands have become a priority in the field of environmental management, this dissertation traces the rhetorical ecology of one such contested site (the Meadowlands), highlighting the role of public and professional texts as agents of both knowledge production and landscape change. To that end, I offer two analyses in this dissertation. The first is a genre analysis of technical descriptions derived from a reading of a large collection of texts, including analytical reports, field guides, natural resource inventories, primary scientific literature, and public-facing narratives. The second is an examination of the rhetorical conditions that precipitated the proposed listing of the Lower Hackensack River to the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (US EPA’s) National Priorities List. The methods used in this study are grounded in writing studies scholarship (with a dual focus on technical communication and rhetoric), but this work also engages fields as diverse as human geography, literary studies, the environmental humanities, studies of science and technology, environmental planning, and environmental sociology. In the conclusion of the dissertation, I reflect on associated questions of land justice and environmental justice efforts in upstream/downstream relationships and explore the theoretical, practical, and pedagogical implications for technical communication and public writing in the environmental sector.



University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. 2022. Major: Rhetoric and Scientific and Technical Communication. Advisors: Donald Ross, Daniel Card. 1 computer file (PDF); 258 pages.

Related to




Series/Report Number

Funding information

Isbn identifier

Doi identifier

Previously Published Citation

Suggested citation

Dsouza, Evelyn. (2022). The Rhetorical Ecology of an Urban Wetland Complex. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy,

Content distributed via the University Digital Conservancy may be subject to additional license and use restrictions applied by the depositor. By using these files, users agree to the Terms of Use. Materials in the UDC may contain content that is disturbing and/or harmful. For more information, please see our statement on harmful content in digital repositories.