Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Matthew K. Gold

Committee Members

Stephen Brier

Sondra Perl

Subject Categories

American Literature | Digital Humanities | Rhetoric and Composition


Walt Whitman, Digital Humanities, Mobile Technologies, Digital Media, American Literature


Vanishing Leaves is a location-based mobile experience (LBME), which employs mobile devices equipped with GPS and high-speed wireless internet capabilities to take users to Brooklyn Heights to learn about the poet Walt Whitman and his connection to the neighborhood where he lived, worked, and published the first edition of his masterwork Leaves of Grass. Through this active first-person immersive learning experience, Vanishing Leaves embraces experimental scholarly methods that extend outside the classroom and off the page in order to engage learners and invite them to create meaningful, personal connections to writers and their literary works.

The following white paper details the core concepts and inspiration underlying the development of Vanishing Leaves, including Whitman’s mobile composing practices and the importance influence of walking on his work, as well as ecocomposition theory and its exploration of the dynamic relationship between the writer, their discourse, and the environment. Following this groundwork, a detailed examination of the capabilities of mobile devices relevant to this project is offered. This analysis highlights important research, concepts, and existing projects that illuminate the potential for LBMEs to help us better understand cultural figures, their historical contexts, and the important connection between place and discourse surrounding cultural texts. Finally, an overview of the development of Vanishing Leaves will provide details regarding its methods and objectives, as well as some of the major challenges and lessons learned throughout the process.

This white paper, instructions for playing Vanishing Leaves, and access to supplemental materials will be made available online at:


Online component:

Preservation copies of files listed in the Appendix are available separately upon request via email to the library.