By Catrin Gersdorf
This learn explores the ways that the desolate tract, as topographical area and cultural presence, formed and reshaped recommendations and pictures of the USA. as soon as a territory outdoor the geopolitical and cultural borders of the us, the deserts of the West and Southwest have due to the fact emerged as canonical American landscapes. Drawing at the severe recommendations of yank stories and on questions and difficulties raised in fresh debates on ecocriticism, The Poetics and Politics of the desolate tract investigates the spatial rhetoric of the USA because it constructed in view of arid landscapes because the mid-nineteenth century. Gersdorf argues that the combination of the barren region into the USA catered to the complete spectrum of ideological and political responses to the background and tradition of the USA, protecting that the Americanization of this panorama was once and is still staged in the idiomatic parameters and in response to the discursive authority of 4 spatial metaphors: backyard, desert, Orient, and heterotopia.
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Extra resources for The Poetics and Politics of the Desert: Landscape and the Construction of America. (Spatial Practices)
Neither Mary Austin, nor Joseph Wood Krutch, Richard Misrach, or Alfredo Vèa, Jr. make any reference in their work to the desert as heterotopia. Yet the concept most effectively describes the operation of the poetics and politics of the desert in their respective artistic work. All of them employ the trope of the desert as a site of discursive resistance against the cultural authority of those ideas and concepts that traditionally represent America. Austin challenged the intellectual and aesthetic hegemony of the metropolitan East as the place that defines American literature.
It demonstrates that understanding and appreciating a topographical and ecological Other such as the desert de- 36 The Poetics and Politics of the Desert pends on pre-existing discursive paradigms and images. In the second chapter of this book I will argue that 19th-century Orientalist painting and literature, with their prominent cultural positions in fin-de-siècle America, provided non-fiction authors such as Charles F. Lummis and John C. Van Dyke with narrative and iconographic models for representing the American desert as a historically, culturally, and aesthetically valuable landscape.
Frederick Jackson Turner’s influential frontier thesis would amalgamate more than a century of dominant American thought and perpetuate the ideas of writers such as Thomas Jefferson and Hector St. John de Crèvecœur for whom frontier society, that conglomerate of men and women transforming an uncultivated wilderness into a landscape of farms and gardens, was the epitome of America. Accordingly, and in contrast to European concepts of progress as a universal process which, over time, would result in a betterment of the human condition and in the creation of social justice, American notions of progress, de- Garden 47 spite their focus on the future, were spelled out in spatial rather than in temporal terms.