Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Chair(s)

Melody Graulich


Melody Graulich


Keri Holt


Lawrence Culver


"In From Eden to Dystopia: An Ecocritical Examination of Emergent Mythologies" "in Early Los Angeles Literary Texts, ecocriticism and critical regionalism were utilized" "alongside other American Studies practices to analyze nineteenth- and early-twentieth-" "century depictions of nature in Los Angeles. Specifically, these tools were applied to" "travel guides and narratives of the 1870s and 1880s, the turn-of-the-century magazine" "The Land of Sunshine, Upton Sinclair’s Oil! (1926) and Raymond Chandler’s The Big" "Sleep (1939), and other non-fiction publications of the 1920s and ’30s to track an" "evolving narrative of Los Angeles as a paradise and later as a place perched on the edge" "of ecological ruin. Key themes included nature as aesthetic or health-related amenity vs." "exploitable resource, along with both subtle and overt class- and race-based" "environmental exclusions. The chief aim of this thesis was to elucidate how Los Angeles" "went from a “new Eden for the Saxon home-seeker” to the place where its river was" "paved with cement and virtually forgotten for decades. This thesis concluded that with" "the Los Angeles River’s recent revitalization efforts, there could be future gains made for" "other aspects of the city’s environment, with the hope that uncovering past idea-shaping" "narratives of nature in Los Angeles may help illuminate how current ideas of Los" "Angeles as a place without nature came to be and how that city-versus-nature dichotomy" "can be both damaging and false."