The romantic perception of the American Southwest as a wild and dangerous frontier where heroic settlers prove their endurance has often responded to a common human desire to escape from the pressures of civilization and experience an “authentic” relationship with nature. This idealized notion about life in the Southwest, however, has contributed the subjugation of the indigenous populations and the natural world while helping rationalize the conquest of both. In Myth and Environment in Recent Southwestern Literature, Theda Wrede brings contemporary Southwestern American literature under the microscope to examine the ways in which the mythic narrative has influenced attitudes toward the land in the region. Focusing on popular novels by Corrmac McCarthy, Barbara Kingsolver, Leslie Marmon Silko, and Denise Chávez, Wrede explores the psychology behind the myth and discusses the ways in which the four authors deploy the mythic narrative, interrogate its validity, and offer visions for alternative modes of inhabiting the Southwest. In combining ideas from a culturally sensitive ecofeminist theory, psychoanalysis, postcolonial studies, and literary studies, the study offers an innovative conceptual framework for discussions about environmental responsibility in the twenty-first century. Finally, it also encourages its readers to partake in the process of mythogenesis by imagining “sustainable” narratives to help rescue the promise of the Southwest for the new millennium.
About the Author
Theda Wrede is associate professor at Dixie State University.
Table of Contents
Chapter One: The Myth and Contemporary Reappraisals of the Southwest
Chapter Two: Renewal and Regression in Cormac McCarthy’s Western All the Pretty Horses
Chapter Three: Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal Dreams: Ecofeminist Subversion of Western Myth
Chapter Four: “It’s a Matter of Transitions”: Nature, Self, and Community in Leslie Marmon Silko’s Ceremony
Chapter Five: Liminality in Denise Chávez’s The Last of the Menu Girls: Mapping Female Landscapes on the Border
About the author