Date of Award:

7-25-2012

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

English

Advisor/Chair:

Melody Graulich

Abstract

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.

Comments

This work made publicly available electronically on July 30, 2012.

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