Date of Award:

2014

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Arts (MA)

Department:

English

Advisor/Chair:

Steve Siporin

Abstract

At one time, Providence, Utah, was well-known for its fruit production, especially on the north and south benches, but changes in population growth patterns, technology, and local economy have dramatically reduced reliance on agriculture and have completely eliminated fruit farming on the benches. In order to capture a slice of Providence history which is quickly disappearing from public memory, this thesis relies on a series of interviews I conducted with former workers on the fruit farms in the Providence bench area. Through their memories of their work and childhoods, I set out a folk history which focuses on family and worker relationships, gender roles, and work techniques. Throughout the entire body of work, I pull from a variety of genres and themes within the field of folklore to answer my research question of what fruit farming entailed and the importance it played in the lives of the farmers, their families, the workers, and the community.

I begin with sections of historical ethnography in order to transport the reader into a time past and to convey the nature of these farmers’ and workers’ lives and occupations. The voices of my informants have a large role in shaping the history through their commentaries and personal narratives about this period. I continue with further textual analysis of the informants’ personal narratives about work and childhood, using theories of children’s folklore and oral narrative to discuss trickster tales and their role in my informants’ lives and their life histories. This analysis further focuses on power relationships and gender roles, while acting as a collection of occupational and children’s folklore as revealed through my informants’ interviews. I also draw on psychoanalytic interpretations of gender roles within work. I also discuss teenage relationships, flirting, and jokes about sexuality during this time period through this theoretical lens. My analysis concludes where it started: with the stories and their nostalgic themes, drawing the body of this thesis back to a discussion of life, land, and family and the nature of the stories told about these themes now. Throughout, this folk history relies on the present to understand the past, and by way of the nostalgic quality of all of the stories told by my informants, the past defines the present.

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