Summer 2020, 50.4, pages: 268-282
A Rhetoric of Walking and Reading: Immersion in Environmental Ambient Literature
Duncan Speakman’s ambient literature, It Must Have Been Dark by Then (2017), is a paperback book that is read in tandem with a smartphone app to create an immersive experience for readers. Readers walk local landscapes and create an individual map via the Global Positioning System, while listening to narratives of climate change from Latvia, Louisiana, and Tunisia. This essay completes a rhetorical critique and econarratologically close reading of Speakman’s book, and refers to rhetorical theories on walking by de Certeau, Mountford, Topinka, and Kalin and Frith. The essay concludes that Speakman’s readers immerse themselves in print, digital narrative, and actual environments, becoming performers and cocreators of individual narratives. The readers’ embodied immersion in the story allows it to transport them into distant environments affected by climate change.