Dissertations, Theses and Capstone Projects

Date of Award

Fall 12-2010

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Professional Writing (MAPW)



First Advisor

Laura Dabundo

Second Advisor

Todd Harper


I argue that quilts should be considered as visual texts, one to which theories of visual rhetoric and rhetoric in general can be applied. In drawing together the worlds of academia and quilting, I will use a variety of theoretical lens to explore quilts as texts. As a text, quilts contain units of meaning much like words. These units of meaning will be explored in Chapter 2 “Quilt Talks: How Quilts Communicate.” In this chapter I will follow the model of Elsley and propose a semiotics of quilts, one that can then be applied to any quilt. This semiotics is possible because the quilt is a text. Extending the analysis of quilts beyond their surface, Chapter 3 “Quilt Works: Rhetorical Tasks of Quilts” will explore quilts made by quilters who wanted to state a message, one that could be a political position, an encomium, a synthesis, an analysis, or even an argument in Blair’s narrow definition. The act of quilting and its resultant meaning will be explored in Chapter 4 “Embodiment: How the Act of Quilting Makes Meaning,” which will discuss meaning in relation to quilts that in some way memorialize either the quilter, her relationships or her departed loved ones. The chapters begin with the description of a quilt that serves as an icon, illuminating the difficulties of interpretation and the rhetoric of the quilts described therein. In each chapter, I present these attributes as examples of quilts behaving as texts.