Gaining Ground: The Politics of Place and Space in U.S. Women's Literature and U.S. Culture, 1959-2001.
Abstract: My study employs an interdisciplinary approach bridging the
humanities and social sciences. It combines literary analysis, women's studies,
environmental justice research, and cultural geography theory. I draw on this methodology
to analyze U.S. literary, visual, and cultural narratives of place and space in the latter
half of the twentieth century and into the twenty-first century t... read moreo discover how these
narratives impact eco-social injustice for marginalized groups, especially women of color.
Specifically, I focus on texts by multicultural U.S. women writers working in a range of
literary genres: Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun
(1959), Adrienne Rich's Your Native Land, Your Life (1986),
Helena María Viramontes' Under the Feet of Jesus (1995), and
Louise Erdrich's The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No
Horse (2001). I argue that this literature exposes how mainstream narratives
of place and space in the U.S., disseminated through the media, advertising, and other
dominant cultural discourses, often elide social and environmental injustice for poor and
working-class women of color. Each chapter investigates how the cross-cultural, feminist
perspectives of these writers view place and space as political sites of oppression and
rebellion, and how they offer more egalitarian societal views on place, space, and gender
than those traditionally accepted in the U.S. My cross-disciplinary scholarship contributes
to a growing movement in environmentally focused literary studies to develop viable links
between the humanities and social sciences with which to examine environmental and
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Tufts University, 2011.
Submitted to the Dept. of English.
Advisor: Elizabeth Ammons.
Committee: Modhumita Roy, Christina Sharpe, and Lawrence Buell.
Keywords: American Literature, Women's Studies, and Environmental Justice.read less