Fieldwork Practice: Reading Public Space

The first assignment of the quarter involves field practice in observing a public space and enumerating its various texts. For this exercise, we define text broadly and liberally as not only traditional, written textual elements but also as any non-traditional agents of communication. We chose the Husky Union Building (HUB) on the UW campus because it was close and accessible to everyone. Additionally, we reasoned that observing the same space would allow everyone to experience, and report on, very different types of texts... thus learning from one another.


Your assignment is to compile a list of 15-20 types of communication texts that you find at the HUB. By texts we mean more than just written language. Texts can be signs and other written artifacts, but they can also be other forms of communication like arrangements of furniture, architecture, lighting, seating, etc. - anything that somehow communicates a message.

Suggested Methodology

Spend a couple of hours over the next week documenting some examples. Be creative in what and how you document. Take notes, pictures, look for existing artifacts; collect whatever you can think of. Explore, this is an investigative process.




The following short reports were turned in by each student. In addition to listing the types of texts that were encountered, we asked students to identify themes and patterns, speculate on possible motives, and reflect on their own research methods.

Spring 2005

Finally, because we emphasized engagement and fun, we pasted examples of individual students' reports into a unified document. The resultant document included everyone's observations