Date of Award:
Master of Science (MS)
The writings of Wendell Berry and Edward Abbey are often read for their environmental ethics only. This approach blinds readers to the social significance of their texts. In order to recover some of that social significance, I read both writers' most popular works with an attention to how labor, occupation, and class are represented. The great array of material this approach uncovers demonstrates that nature cannot be considered apart from class and economy. Using four works by Wendell Berry--Hannah Coulter (2004), Remembering (1988), The Unsettling of America (1977), and Nathan Coulter (1960)--I demonstrate how Berry's mixed-class background allows him to celebrate manual labor by putting it at the center of his philosophy and obscuring the material problems faced by professional farmers. Using two works by Edward Abbey--The Monkey Wrench Gang (1975), Desert Solitaire (1968)--I show how class-identity inflects Abbey's ironic poetics and approach to nature.
Nickl, Tyler Austin, "Farmer, Miner, Ranger, Writer: Interpreting Class and Work in the Writing of Wendell Berry and Edward Abbey" (2012). All Graduate Theses and Dissertations. Paper 1283.
Copyright for this work is retained by the student.