This essay applies rhetorical analysis to the semantically loaded locations at trailheads, parks, and nature preserve entryways. Using the trailhead markers of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore as a field-based case study, I identify six common rhetorical frames in the trailhead -- location distinction, danger, sacrifice, stewardship, prescribed activity, and tactical disruption -- and discuss how each perpetuates a problematic everyday nature-culture divide. In analyzing the rhetorical functions of physical places, I advocate for embodied critical methods and revisions to the rhetorics of nature preserves and conservancies.

The original "webtext" can be viewed on the Internet Archive Wayback Machine.

About the Author(s)

Casey R. Schmitt is Assistant Professor of Communication at Lakeland University. He teaches rhetoric and communication, with a personal research focus in environmental narrative, ecological debate, and ethnographic fieldwork, especially in stories of wilderness and natural spaces. His secondary research includes studies on the social import of American folk narrative and popular culture. He is the author of 12 peer-reviewed articles and chapters and is currently preparing his first full-length book on environmental communication. Outside of research and teaching, Schmitt is a frequent writer and editor, having served in editorial positions for several academic journals, including New Directions in Folklore, the Oral History Review, and Western Folklore. From 2014-2015, he also served as Communications Specialist for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources' Waste and Materials Management Program. He is an active member of the National Communication Association, Rhetoric Society of America, American Folklore Society, and Western States Folklore Society.



Persistent Identifier


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License.

Included in

Rhetoric Commons



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.