Spatial Salvage: The Materiality of Region in Literature of the American West

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Publication Type dissertation
School or College College of Humanities
Department English
Author Mathias, Elizabeth Barclay
Title Spatial Salvage: The Materiality of Region in Literature of the American West
Date 2017
Description At the end of the nineteenth century, many literary narratives of the American West repeated historical assumptions and genre tropes while material objects from the West indexed commodity flows and a national fetish for ethnography. Writers like John Wesley Powell, Elizabeth Bacon Custer, Owen Wister, and Mary Austin turned from plots and props to techniques of material assemblage to depict the diverse relations and dynamic tensions of the West. These writers engage in a practice of salvage, in which they separate materials from prior contexts of production or sentiment and combine them in new associations. Their salvage work appears as assemblages-scrapbooks, taxidermy animals, clothes, and weavings-and extends the methods and materials of these assemblages to the structures of their texts. Each work's composition foregrounds the incongruities of its elements, and each text becomes a borderland, or selvage, in which conflicts remain unresolved. The assemblages expose readers to "affective regionality," the feelings of "contingency, precarity, vulnerability," that occur between geographic places and rhetorical explanations. Each text, then, presents the writer's experience of "westness," of the fantastic and real, speculated and remembered, vast and intimate American West.
Type Text
Publisher University of Utah
Subject American history; Literature; American literature
Dissertation Name Doctor of Philosophy
Language eng
Rights Management (c) Elizabeth Barclay Mathias
Format Medium application/pdf
ARK ark:/87278/s6jd9gnb
Setname ir_etd
Date Created 2019-08-19
Date Modified 2019-11-14
ID 1440392
Reference URL
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