First Advisor

Kathyrn Comer

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in English and University Honors




Vanport (Or.) -- History, Narration (Rhetoric), Oral history, History -- Social aspects, Collective memory




This thesis analyzes representations of the history of Vanport, Oregon, through the lens of narrative rhetoric. It examines two mainstream texts, one academic and one written for the general public, to establish a foundation for Vanport's dominant representation, before exploring how local nonprofit Vanport Mosaic works to revise that history through community voices. Histories of Vanport have largely focused on its success as a public housing project before the 1948 flood that destroyed the city. In these accounts, the experiences of the residents themselves, including the flood’s devastating effects on their community, were overlooked. This neglect inspired the oral history project of Vanport Mosaic, which uses digital media to provide both an alternative historical account of life in Vanport and to disrupt the normative power dynamics of who creates narratives in a way previously impossible. Taken together, these representations demonstrate the subtle erasure of community members’ voices in mainstream narratives, as well as the powerful potential of grassroots digital storytelling to complicate those accounts. This case study of Vanport documents contemporary efforts to revise dominant histories and enrich local communities, thereby contributing to future research and advocacy work.


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An undergraduate honors thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Bachelor of Arts in University Honors and English and Communications.

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