Title of Oral/Poster Presentation

Pictographs and Petroglyphs in Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian

Presenter Information

Cami DilgFollow

Class

Article

Department

English

Faculty Mentor

Victoria Grieve

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

Abstract

Author Cormac McCarthy is interested in the landscape his characters appear in, and his particular attention to pictographs and petroglyphs throughout his southwestern texts is fascinating. Because the depicted rock art in his novels can be seen in the actual locations described-Hueco Tanks, Texas; Caborca, Mexico; Cedar Springs, Texas; and the Texas Franklin Mountains-McCarthy is able to tie the narratives to place. While there has not been extensive study or conversation about these images, I believe by referencing them in his texts, Cormac is making an observation on the "destruction of the Native America nations of the Southwest" (Harold Bloom viii). My purpose is to address this observation and initiate a conversation on the importance of these images. My focus in this presentation will be on the obliteration of images in McCarthy's novel Blood Meridian, a historical novel set just after the Mexican-American War when a filibuster army of scalp hunters (Apache) terrorized the Mexican borderlands. Images appear in the text on Comanche warriors and horses, and at Hueco Tanks, a site near El Paso Texas known for hundreds of rock paintings, as well as etchings. McCarthy uses these images as trappings to illustrate the ease of erasure and appropriation of American Indian place, and therefore histories-typically oral traditions and largely ignored and disvalued-that is the disgraceful heritage of United States history. My second proposal stems from the first: these images also work as non-static characters that move the action of the narrative forward, much like the power of American Indian oral history which is often understood as taking place in the present time.

Start Date

4-9-2015 10:00 AM

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Apr 9th, 10:00 AM

Pictographs and Petroglyphs in Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian

Author Cormac McCarthy is interested in the landscape his characters appear in, and his particular attention to pictographs and petroglyphs throughout his southwestern texts is fascinating. Because the depicted rock art in his novels can be seen in the actual locations described-Hueco Tanks, Texas; Caborca, Mexico; Cedar Springs, Texas; and the Texas Franklin Mountains-McCarthy is able to tie the narratives to place. While there has not been extensive study or conversation about these images, I believe by referencing them in his texts, Cormac is making an observation on the "destruction of the Native America nations of the Southwest" (Harold Bloom viii). My purpose is to address this observation and initiate a conversation on the importance of these images. My focus in this presentation will be on the obliteration of images in McCarthy's novel Blood Meridian, a historical novel set just after the Mexican-American War when a filibuster army of scalp hunters (Apache) terrorized the Mexican borderlands. Images appear in the text on Comanche warriors and horses, and at Hueco Tanks, a site near El Paso Texas known for hundreds of rock paintings, as well as etchings. McCarthy uses these images as trappings to illustrate the ease of erasure and appropriation of American Indian place, and therefore histories-typically oral traditions and largely ignored and disvalued-that is the disgraceful heritage of United States history. My second proposal stems from the first: these images also work as non-static characters that move the action of the narrative forward, much like the power of American Indian oral history which is often understood as taking place in the present time.