Chad D. Wriglesworth
- The University of Iowa
Geographies of Reclamation: A Literary History of the Columbia River Basin
Generations of literary critics recognize that place plays a prominent role in Pacific Northwest literature; however, as it stands, this observation is little more than a cultural platitude, a well received assertion that lacks analysis as to why geography matters to literary studies or people of the Northwest. This dissertation addresses this interpretive void from historical and spatial perspectives, using literary arts as a means of navigating and mapping ways that religious and national narratives transformed the Columbia River Basin into a federally managed Promised Land, a mechanized monument of social and economic progress that is currently being undermined and re-inscribed by bioregional writers and activists, those who establish social and spiritual identities through more localized commitments to place.
Geographies of Reclamation: Writing and Water in the Columbia River Basin, 1855-2009
This project revises the literary history of the Pacific Northwest by putting the national and local histories of the Columbia River Basin at the center of this inquiry on the Pacific Northwest’s diverse body of place-centered literature. It argues that local and national narratives from the late nineteenth and early twentieth century worked alongside the Bureau of Reclamation to transform the Columbia River Basin into an awaiting Promised Land, while bioregional writers and activists, since the 1960s, have used prose and poetry to expose the social and ecological consequences of the federal reclamation process through a spiritually inflected discourse that calls readers to actively reclaim the watershed through more localized and sustainable methods of inhabiting the Pacific Northwest.