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Writing the memory of rivers, story, ecology and politics in some contemporary river writing

by Dawson, Charles Robert

Abstract (Summary)
Despite watershed damage, pollution and the construction of various kinds of barrîer, rivers continue to carry figurative freight in the late twentieth cenhiry. This dissertation reads a number of contemporq texts (personai essays, fiction and poetry) that focus on rivers and insist upon contextual. literary and ethical processes of river reflection. The Introduction sites such writing in cycles of recirculation involving author, watershed and comrnunity. Chapter One takes up these issues. looking at essays by Lance Kinseth. Scott Russell Sanders, Joan Didion, Edward Abbey (Down The River, 1982) and Kathleen Dean Moore (Rivenoalking:Reflections on Moving Water, 1995). examining questions of memory. ecological change and the limits of language and observation. in order to demonstrate some links between subject and meandering forrn. Chapter Two records how, by troping the river as a site of revision and healing. Bas > Lopez, David James Duncan and Richard Flanagan localise versions of philosopher Hans Jonas's "imperative of responsibility." In put, Duncan's The River Why ( 1982)and Flanagan's Death of a River Guide ( 1993) braid persona1 or regiond neoîolonial memory to cal1 Lopez's River Notes ( 1979) to account. Chapten Three and Four then read the psychic, political and ecologicai reach of the 'fallen river' through Ivan Iilich's cornmentary on water. Analysis of further fiction by Duncan and Flanagan provides a context for a considerûtion of Thomas King's Green Grass, Rimning Wmr ( 1993) and a discussion of literary representations of the effect of large dams on indigenous communities and the natural environment. By extension. Cornac McCarthy's Suttree (1979) and London psychogeographer Iain Sinclair's Downrîver ( 1991) track two distinct wban riverscapes (by the Tennessee and Thames), figuring them. in Sinclair's words, as "ribbons of memory" in an age of amnesiac capital accumulation.
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Source Type:Master's Thesis

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Date of Publication:01/01/1999

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