Document Type



Master of Arts



First Adviser

Brooke E. Rollins


This thesis examines the origins of town-gown tension between Lehigh University and Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, specifically the area of the city called South Bethlehem. Chapter one provides a history of the relationship, highlighting the role that student discourse has played in circulating disparaging narratives about South Bethlehem that espouse a worldview wherein the university is superior to the surrounding neighborhood. I argue that student texts have addressed the public that they seek to create, ultimately resulting in the maintenance of this worldview both textually and physically. Chapter two examines several physical spaces shared by Lehigh and South Bethlehem, wherein the university exerts power through spatial design and architecture. Similar to the texts discussed in chapter one, these spaces produce a subject that maintains university power and superiority. I finally argue that attempts to ameliorate town-gown tension that do not make full considerations of how tension manifests both spatially and epistemically in overlapping ways will be futile.

Available for download on Saturday, February 26, 2022