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A River of Voices: Confluences and Cross-Currents in the Discourse of the Colorado River


Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1928/20819

A River of Voices: Confluences and Cross-Currents in the Discourse of the Colorado River

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Title: A River of Voices: Confluences and Cross-Currents in the Discourse of the Colorado River
Author: Formisano, Paul
Advisor(s): Harrison, Gary
Committee Member(s): Norwood, Vera
Kells, Michelle
Lynch, Tom
Department: University of New Mexico. Dept. of English
Subject: Colorado River, watershed, American West, bioregionalism, ecocriticism, rhetoric, discourse, literature, Southwest deserts, Grand Canyon, Mexican Delta, Craig Childs, rafting, collaboration
LC Subject(s): Colorado River (Colo.-Mexico) -- In literature
Nature in literature
Wilderness areas in literature
Water use -- Colorado River Watershed (Colo.-Mexico) -- In literature
Degree Level: Doctoral
Abstract: This dissertation argues that the Colorado River and its watershed face a crisis of representation as privileged nineteenth-century myths portraying the American West as a frontier, garden, and wilderness have limited an understanding of what and whom the river is for. It examines the contribution of “tributary voices” or the lesser known perspectives from the region to reveal new lines of thinking about this river and its surroundings as they engage the traditional views of the river shaped by these myths. The voices examined at length in this study include contemporary nature writer Craig Childs, recent female boating narratives by Patricia McCairen, Laurie Buyer, and Louise Teal, and AEURHYC, a Mexican water-users association from the Colorado Delta region. Through an interdisciplinary “watershed” approach that draws on ecocritical, bioregional, and rhetorical frameworks, this project considers how these tributary voices appropriate, complicate, and often reject the discourses and genres that have traditionally represented the river and watershed. Negotiating these conventional viewpoints, the tributary voices offer new lines of thinking that reveal the river’s importance to a broader range of stakeholders. As impending water shortages threaten the region, this dissertation initiates a much needed conversation about the role literary and rhetorical production has in shaping attitudes and behaviors toward the Colorado and its finite resources.
Graduation Date: May 2012
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1928/20819

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