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PAGE 1

LOOKING AWAY: THE EVASIVE ENVIRONMENTAL POLITICS OF AMERICAN LITERATURE, 1823 By LLOYD ELLIOTT WILLIS A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLOR IDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2006

PAGE 2

Copyright 2006 by Lloyd Elliott Willis

PAGE 3

To Windy and Hailey

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I wish to thank my committee members for everything they have contributed to this project. I am deeply indebted to Jack Davis and Phil Wegner for changing the ways I think about literature, critical theory, and politics. Sid Dobrin has been a constant source of reassurance and guidance throughout this project and my entire graduate career, and Stephanie Smith, who has been a constant and patient source of support and encouragement, has been just what I believe every dissertation director should be. I also wish to thank my parents, my siblings, and my whole family for supporting my academic work and enduringwith incredible understandingthe separation it has entailed. Most of all, I am indebted to Windy for taking every step of this journey with me, and to Hailey for making the year I spent writing Looking Away better than anything I could ever imagine. iv

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TABLE OF CONTENTS ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS...........................................................................iv ABSTRACT...................................................................................................vi i CHAPTER 1 THE ENVIRONMENTAL UNCONSCIOUS OF AMERICANIST CRITICISM FROM HENRY NASH SMITH TO LAWRENCE BUELL......................................................................1 From Revisionist History to Ecocritical Recidivism..............................4 Unearthing the Evasive Politics of American Literature........................9 Notes.......................................................................................................14 2 JAMES FENIMORE COOPER, AMERICAN CANON FORMATION, AND THE ERASURE OF ENVIRONMENTAL ANXIETY...........................................................16 Removing Cooper from History.............................................................17 Rehistoricizing Cooper...........................................................................22 Notes.......................................................................................................41 3 THE INSTITUTION OF EMERSONIAN ENVIRONMENTAL IMPERIALISM...................................................46 Emerson, Gender, and Natures Gender.................................................48 The Nature of Emersons Imperialism...................................................52 The Consequences and Endurance of Emersonian Nature.....................58 Thoreau and the Continuation of Emersons Abstract Spatial Imperialism.................................................................................64 Notes.......................................................................................................71 4 HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW, UNITED STATES NATIONAL LITERATURE, AND THE AMERICAN CANONS ERASURE OF MATERIAL NATURE..............................78 Longfellows Literary Manifestoes........................................................79 Longfellow and the Nineteenth Century American Literature Debates...................................................................................82 Longfellows Un-Emersonian Nature.....................................................88 v

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The Nations Shifting Sense of Nature and Longfellows Hedge against the Future....................................................................................91 Erasing Longfellow and Naturalizing American Literary Personality in the Early Twentieth Century............................................94 Notes.......................................................................................................105 5 WILLA CATHER AND JOHN STEINBECK, ENVIRONMENTAL SCHIZOPHRENIA AND MONSTROUS ECOLOGY....................................................................111 The Progressive Conservation Movement, The Hetch Hetchy Debate, and Cather in New York City....................................................112 Environmental Desire and Environmental Schizophrenia......................115 Cathers Canonically Modulated Environmental Schizophrenia...........119 Steinbeck, Ecology, and American Culture............................................129 Steinbeck and Monstrosity.....................................................................133 Steinbecks Monstrous Ecology.............................................................136 Notes.......................................................................................................146 6 RECLAIMING BLACKSPACE: ZORA NEALE HURSTON, THE POWER OF HARLEM, AND THE PROMISE OF FLORIDA.........................................................................................151 Hurston, Harlem, and Power..................................................................153 Creating a Floridian Blackspace.............................................................160 Notes.......................................................................................................183 7 THERE WILL ALWAYS BE A LAST GOOD COUNTRY, OR ERNEST HEMINGWAY AND AMERICAN LITERATURES LEGACY OF ENVIRONMENTAL DISENGAGEMENT...................188 The Circular Trajectory of Environmental Openness in In Our Time....190 Bad Faith in Green Hills of Africa..........................................................195 Notes.......................................................................................................200 LIST OF REFERENCES...............................................................................204 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH.........................................................................225 vi

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Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy LOOKING AWAY: THE EVASIVE ENVIRONMENTAL POLITICS OF AMERICAN LITERATURE, 1823 By Lloyd Elliott Willis August 2006 Chair: Stephanie Smith Major Department: Department of English Looking Away: The Evasive Environmental Politics of American Literature combines the history of American environmentalism and the institutional history of American literature studies with theories of periodicity and spatiality to argue that American literature has always been invested in the condition of the North American environment. This environment has been, indeed, a site of political struggle in American letters since the mid-nineteenth century, and I show how the American critical tradition has worked to erase American literatures environmental anxieties since the early twentieth century. Looking Away investigates the environmental commitments of James Fenimore Cooper, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow; the roles that critics from Margaret Fuller to Van Wyck Brooks, F. O. Matthiessen, and Leslie Fiedler have played in the creation of an environmentally disengaged body of American literature; and the ways that early-twentieth-century authors like Willa Cather, Zora vii

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Neale Hurston, and Ernest Hemingway brought the natural world into the new century as a serious site of literary and critical conflict. Chapter 1 argues that Coopers Leatherstocking Series, which expresses radical doubt about the permanence and illimitability of North American nature, marks a significant break from the environmental rhetoric of the colonial and early republican periods. Chapter 2 argues that Coopers environmental anxieties were eclipsed by the abstract and imperialist vision of nature that Ralph Waldo Emerson defines in Nature, and Chapter 3 explains that Henry Wadsworth Longfellow promoted an environmentally determinist vision of American literature that could have produced a much different relationship between the nations nature and its literature than the one that in fact developed along more Emersonian lines. Chapter 4 argues that the environmentalist sympathies of both Willa Cather and John Steinbeck were held in check by literary and cultural resistances to any type of environmentalist radicalism. Chapter 5 presents Hurston as an author who steps outside of both cultural and literary expectations by theorizing Florida as a vibrant and organic space ideally suited for African American life, and Chapter 6 presents Hemingway as the author who takes U. S. literatures paradoxical relationship with nature to more absurd lengths than any other. viii

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CHAPTER 1 THE ENVIRONMENTAL UNCONSCIOUS OF AMERICANIST CRITICISM FROM HENRY NASH SMITH TO LAWRENCE BUELL In National Identities, Postmodern Artifacts, and Postnational Narratives, Donald Pease offers a compelling description of the mainstream American culture and the critical tradition that he and other New Americanists had already been working to subvert for nearly a decade by the time he included the essay in National Identities and Post-Americanist Narratives (1994). 1 Deliberately describing the national narrative of the United States in the terms of R. W. B. Lewis, Henry Nash Smith, and Perry Miller, he writes that the nations unconscious sense of itself combines an exceptional national subject (American Adam) with a representative national scene (Virgin Land) and an exemplary national motive (errand into the wilderness) (3). Together, Pease writes, this triangulation of the national subject, scene, and motive produces a mythological entityNatures Nation that believes itself to be governed by natural law and a set of ruling principles (Liberty Equality, Social Justice) [that] could be understood as indistinguishable from the sovereign power creative of nature (3). The brilliance of this passage lies in the way it simultaneously describes American culture, defines the foundational texts and concerns of American Studies, and asserts (by remaining always in the present tense) that both the cultural and critical situations that he describes are and ongoing. When National Identities, Postmodern Artifacts, and Postnational Narratives was first published in boundary 2 in 1993, Pease felt that the narratives of exceptional Americans, virgin land, and ordained voyages into 1

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2 wilderness had not been entirely displaced from either the nations sense of itself or the critical institutions operating assumptions despite the fact that significant revisionist work had already been done. He was writing, after all, in response to Frederick Crewss famous 1988 Whose American Renaissance? which granted the New Americanists their name and condemned their work while defending the claims of the old guard. Today, 17 years since it was published and 15 years since Pease first rebuked it in New Americanists: Revisionist Interventions into the Canon, Whose American Renaissance? still stands as the last major challenge to American Studiess transformation into the historically (rather than mythically) oriented, politically engaged, and postnational field that it is today. Even as Pease was responding to Crewsand embracing the New Americanist label that Crews had used pejorativelythe field was changing quickly and the old critical narratives, which Pease in National Identities believed to still retain some currency, were rapidly losing whatever capital they still had within the culture of Americanist criticism. Despite the drastic changes in Americanist criticism over the past decade and a half, however, and despite the fact that the old national narratives have been largely dismissed, at least one significant portion of Peases broad disciplinary unconscious remains largely unchallenged. The American critical institution has generally failed to explore the environmental politics that it has practiced along with the American authors it has canonized since the mid-nineteenth century. Even despite the revisionist work of those like Annette Kolodny and Richard Slotkin, the critical community still, largely unconsciously, draws a false boundary between environmental politics, literary production, and critical practices. To put it a bit differently, the critical community has

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3 still not recognized that the formation of an American canon entailed an unconscious (and evasive) environmental politics; it has not recognized that the apolitical, ahistorical, and monolithic Nature that operates in the narratives of Smith and Marx is an extension of this canonically endorsed politics of environmental evasion; and it has not recognized that ongoing debates about American cultures relationship with naturemost frequently carried out under the banner of ecocriticismcontinue to misread environmental politics as a contemporary development that can therefore have no bearing upon the history of American literature and criticism. It is the purpose of Looking Away to suggest that the particular vision of nature that lies within American literatures field-imaginary is the product of a long tradition of evasive environmental politics that involves authors ranging from James Fenimore Cooper, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and Ralph Waldo Emerson to Willa Cather and John Steinbeck, and critics from Cornelius Mathews, Margaret Fuller and Mark Twain to George Santayana, Van Wyck Brooks, and Leslie Fiedler. In this archaeology of American Literatures evasive environmental politics, I will argue that James Fenimore Cooper resisted federalist narratives of illimitable virgin land and that Henry Wadsworth Longfellow envisioned a U. S. national literature that was invested in the condition of the North American environment. I will argue that Emerson, who has been canonized as the American nature philosopher of the nineteenth century, replaced the environmental visions of Cooper and Longfellow with an abstract vision of Nature that would serve as the fields standard idea of nature well into the twentieth century. Finally, I will explain how Willa Cather, John Steinbeck, and Zora Neale Hurston resisted the Emersonian idea

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4 of nature throughout the early twentieth century and how Ernest Hemingway granted it its fullest expression. From Revisionist History to Ecocritical Recidivism Annette Kolodnys 1975 The Lay of the Land opens with this description of the books central motive: The original impetus for the following investigation was my growing distress at what we have done to our continent (ix). Ten years later, Richard Slotkins The Fatal Environment, which makes no specific claims about an environmentalist motivation, still advanced a portion of Kolodnys project by insisting on a more historically and politically engaged vision of American history than is offered in Virgin Land and Machine in the Garden. After the passage of yet another decade and after the narratives of Smith, Marx, and the other Old Americanists had been effectively displaced, scholars like Lawrence Buell and Cheryl Glotfelty, operating under the newly organized aegis of ecocriticism would restate Kolodnys original environmentalist motivations but, unwittingly perhaps, promote an ecological aesthetic and a critical mission that would once again remove the question of naturewithin the critical fieldfrom the realms of history and politics. For Pease in New Americanists, The Lay of the Land and The Fatal Environment effectively subvert the Virgin Land narrative. Kolodny, of course, argues that North American environmental destruction is the unfortunate result of the way that nature has been gendered since the beginning of European colonization, that by turning the new land into a female virgin land Europeans placed North American nature into the category of the exploited and exploitable. To this, Slotkin adds that the vision of the frontier that operates in the work of both Frederick Jackson Turner and Henry Nash Smith (Smith, for his part, was trying to correct Turner by arguing that the myth, or

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5 public perception, of the frontier was just as important to American culture as the actual frontier itself) absolutely neglects the history of bloody conflicteven genocide, which is the true history of the westward expansion of the United States. Kolodny and Slotkin did effectively shift the disciplinary unconscious of Americanist criticismit is now impossible to think of virgin land or of a triumphant westward march of American civilizationbut, as if they exhausted a whole line of inquiry as they subverted the Smith-Marx paradigm, their work has not been significantly advanced by subsequent critics. They demonstrate how the mainstream (white, male) culture of (primarily) the United States extended patterns of gendered violence on a female nature and replace optimistic if wrongheaded narratives of American expansion with a new but still mythical and archetypal narrative of violent imperialism, but they say very little or nothing about the roles that literature and canon formation played in the creation of these national myths. With the problem of revising national narratives effectively solved, Americanists of any stripe (New, Old, etc.) spent very little time considering any issue relating to nature until it became the special subject of ecocriticism in the mid-1990s. Just like Kolodnys The Lay of the Land, this ecologically oriented mode of criticism developed, as Cheryl Glotfelty states the case in her introduction to The Ecocriticism Reader, in response to the most pressing contemporary issue of all, namely, the global environmental crisis (xv). Despite the fact that most ecocritical work shares a common [environmentalist] motivation, however, as a body it neglects the types of political and historical critique that Kolodny and Slotkin had used so effectively. In some cases ecocriticism reinstitutes the focus on pastoralism and the nature/culture or

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6 nature/technology binaries that Kolodny and Slotkin had resisted in Smith and Marx; it often acts as if environmentalism itself is an illegitimate critical concern that lacks a substantive history; and in the place of the environmentalist concerns that it seems so invested in, ecocriticism tends to turn ecology and its philosophical implications (holistic worldviews, metaphors of connectivity) into a new interpretive matrix that its critics can then deploy in what is essentially a retooled New Critical method that dives beneath the surface of texts in search of ecological truths. In fact, Glotfelty captures the degree to which ecocriticism neglects environmental politics and limits environmentalism to the contemporary moment when she offers this summation of what ecocritics do: Ecocritics and theorists ask questions like the following: How is nature represented in this sonnet? What role does the physical setting play in the plot of this novel? Are the values expressed in this play consistent with ecological wisdom? How do our metaphors of the land influence the way we treat it? How can we characterize nature writing as a genre? In addition to race, class, and gender, should place become a new critical category? Do men write about nature differently than women do? In what ways has literacy itself affected humankinds relationship to the natural world? How has the concept of wilderness changed over time? In what ways and to what effect is the environmental crisis seeping into contemporary literature and popular culture? What view of nature informs U.S. Government reports, corporate advertising, and televised nature documentaries, and to what rhetorical effect? What bearing might the science of ecology have on literary studies? How is science itself open to literary analysis? What cross-fertilization is possible between literary studies and environmental discourse in related disciplines such as history, philosophy, psychology, art, history, and ethics? (xix, emphasis added) Ecocriticism as Glotfelty defines it here, then, identifies the ecological wisdom that texts may contain, it strives to identify a relationship between ecology and literature, it privileges a concept of wilderness, and it thinks of environmental crisis as a phenomenon that seeps only into contemporary literature and popular culture. Lawrence Buell, the most prominent scholar of American literature to venture into ecocriticism, shares the environmentalist motivations expressed by Kolodny and

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7 Glotfelty, and his 1995 The Environmental Imagination performs precisely the type of work that Glotfelty describes. Buell is clearly interested in what he describes as the full-fledged emergence of environmentalism as a topic of public concern in America in the three decades have passed since the publication in 1962 of Rachel Carsons Silent Spring,he even spends a paragraph in the second page of the books introduction meditating upon Senator Albert Gores pronouncement that we must make the rescue of the environment the central organizing principle for civilization (2). The quickening environmental crisis of the late twentieth century, he explains, is what caused him to rethink the environmental awareness of much earlier writers. As he puts it, the more environment looms as a self-evidently fundamental problem, the more problematic it seems to minimize its importance for our precursors. If our present concern may tempt us to overstate their concern, our past unconcern may have tempted us to ignore theirs (14). Characteristically, however, and as the title of his book suggests, Buell moves steadily away from environmental politics and into an explication of American literatures environmental imagination, an analysis of literary ecocentrism, and a celebration of Henry David Thoreau, whom Buell considers the greatest American nature writer of the nineteenth century because he anticipates the ecocentric worldviews that gained a degree of prominence (particularly through the work of deep ecologists like Arne Naess, George Devall, Bill Sessions) through the last decades of the twentieth century. Considered within the tradition of Americanist revisions of the virgin land myth since the 1970s, the unconscious project of The Environmental Unconscious is to construct a new and triumphant primal scene (to again turn to Peases language) for

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8 American literature that for the first time is entirely confined to the mind, contained within the literary archive, and, by virtue of its immateriality, thoroughly protected from another wave of revisionist critique that illuminates the disparity between a cultural mythology and reality. Buells primal scene, after all, is neither the idea of virgin land that fueled European and American expansionism nor the narrative of Virgin Land that grounded American Studies for thirty years, but the environmental imagination of American literature itself. And the environmental imagination of American literature, Buell argues over the course of his critical narrative, is best embodied in the visionary work of Thoreau, which is ecocentric enough to suggest that American literature and culture, in its heart of hearts, has resisted an environmentally destructive self-indulgent anthropocentrism since the mid-nineteenth century. Buell arrives at his idea of an environmental imagination while attempting to redirect the focus of a metropolitan-based enterprise of academic criticism, which reads literature about nature for its structural or ideological properties, toward nature writings experiential or referential aspects (36). In abandoning such a metropolitan criticism, though, Buell disclaims the subversive politics, the forceful and revisionist historical focus, and the disciplinary self-reflexivity that had become fundamental to American Studies when he migrated into ecocriticism (where he has largely remained since the mid-1990s). 2 In accordance with these critical decisions, The Environmental Imagination pursues its exploration of literary ecocentrism while admitting but not engaging the long history of environmental politics or the relationship between it and the U. S. literary-critical tradition. For Buell, the American natural environment . during the last five centuries has been constructed thrice over in a tangled ideological

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9 palimpsest. . it was constructed in the image of old world desire, then reconstructed in the image of American cultural nationalism, then reconstructed again in a latter-day scholarly discourse of American exceptionalism, but real environmental politics always and only takes place, as I have already mentioned, after the publication in 1962 of Rachel Carsons Silent Spring and the passage [in 1970] of the Wilderness Act (5, 10). Unearthing the Evasive Politics of American Literature The ideological palimpsest of nature that Buell identifies is undeniably the product of a very real environmental politics that does indeed stretch back five centuries to the beginning of European involvement in North America. 3 My objective in Looking Away is to describe the ways that authors and critics, particularly in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, have created and remained faithful to a vision (or palimpsest) of nature that silences and forgets those who question the nations faith in perpetual environmental illimitability and virginity, critique the course of American empire, or even imagine an American Literature that depends upon the continued existence of an exceptional natural world. Because of its disciplinary politics and its reliance upon revisionist histories that grant environmentalism a history beyond the late twentieth century, this is a project that in many ways shares more with the early New Americanist studies than more recent work in ecocriticism. It strives to recapture the vibrancy of the New Americanist work of the 1980s and 1990s and it picks up the lines of self-reflexive questioning about American literatures relationship to nature that have largely lain dormant, despite the burgeoning of ecocriticism, since Kolodny and Slotkin initiated them more than twenty years ago.

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10 Now that the narratives like those of Virgin Land and The Machine in the Garden have been thoroughly displaced, the question that drives me is how the myth of virgin land still held cultural capital within American literature and criticism as late as the mid-twentieth century. In the end, my answer to this question is that the American literary institution maintained a vision of virgin land through centuries of evasive environmental politics that it practiced with particular strength from the early republic throughout the first half of the twentieth century. My investigation of American literatures environmental politics begins with a re-examination of James Fenimore Coopers Leatherstocking Series. Despite the fact that he has been devalued in a critical tradition that stretches from Mark Twain to Leslie Fiedler, I argue that Coopers novels constitute a significant intervention into American cultures vision of the natural world by breaking from a federalist rhetoric of environmental inexhaustibility that was pervasive in the early republic. Rather than continuing a tradition of federalist optimism practiced by those like William Cooper (his father), and Timothy Dwight, James Fenimore Cooper argues that the United States is expanding into a limited environment, that the dominant capitalist culture of the United States is environmentally ruinous and unsustainable, that the continent has always already been a contested space rather than a virgin void, and that language and science are transparent mechanisms of a Euro-American imperialism that was much more complex than the squatters, squires, and outcasts that populate Coopers romances. As I argue in Chapter 2, however, Coopers vision of the natural world is not the one that critics like George Santayana and Van Wyck Brooks canonized in the early twentieth century. For these critics, it was Ralph Waldo Emerson who offered American

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11 literatures quintessential theory of nature, and the theory that they recognize in his work replaces Coopers emphasis on environmental scarcity and destructibility with an abstract idea of nature that was complicit in American expansionism, imperialism, and environmental destruction. In Nature, Emerson disposes of natures physical, female, and destructible qualities in a process of redefinition that imagines nature as an abstract and masculine intellectual field that contains the female. In the end, Emersons abstraction of nature, which Thoreau carries forward in Walden and Walking, constitutes a logic of imperial environmental domination that denies any sense of environmental limitation or destructibility and evades the moral and representational crises that attend the destruction of environments that would otherwise amount to virgins, mothers, and/or virgin mothers. In Chapter 3, I return to the question of what was lost in the process of constructing a U. S. national literature around the figure of Ralph Waldo Emerson, this time focusing on Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, the nineteenth centurys most famous American poet, and his involvement in an early nineteenth century debate about the future of American literature. Longfellows poetic project, as he defines it in three manifestoes that he published between 1823 and 1839, was to create an internationalist American literature that based its exceptionality upon the uniqueness of the North American continent. Longfellow promoted his plan for an environmentally determined national literature through the 1850s, with the help of other powerful critics like James Russell Lowell, against Young Americans like Cornelius Mathews who were vehemently promoting a drastically different American literature rooted in nativist patriotism, and he attempted to fulfill his vision of an environmentally determined national literature in

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12 Evangeline and The Song of Hiawatha. Longfellows plan for the development of a legitimate American literature depended upon the continued existence of a pristine and culturally significant North American environment. By the time that Santayana and Brooks formulated their vision of American Literature in the early twentieth century, any lingering notion of an environmentally determined national literature had largely vanished, and American Literature had become the product of an inclusive Whitmanian personality that was clothed in naturalistic rhetoric but freed from any dependence upon material nature itself. Chapter 4 argues that Willa Cather and John Steinbeck, who recognized American culture as an environmentally destructive force, reacted to environmental crisis with an Emersonian environmental vision that suited the literary expectations of a national audience that they believed would not tolerate any declaration of an unequivocally environmentalist position. As Emerson does in the nineteenth century, the fictional characters of Cather and Steinbeckand in some instances the authors themselvesfix their environmental gazes upon metonyms of environmental health and viability. Cathers characters maintain their faith in the permanence and permanent virginity of nature by fixing her environmental gazes upon horizons and vast environmental cycles, while Steinbeck and his characters contemplate whether scientifically preserving small bits of the natural world from beneath the eaves of industry can provide a satisfactory hedge against widespread environmental destruction. Although Cathers refusal of environmental activism may be excused as a function of her general belief that literature should abstain from politics, there were plenty of reasons to stay within the Emersonian paradigm of abstract nature during the early twentieth century. Steinbeck seems to speak

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13 for both of them, and for the historical moment in general, in fact, when he suggests that launching a pointed environmentalist attack on American culture would subject anyoneauthors includedto the social ostracism and group violence that befalls outcasts and monstrous figures throughout his body of work. Drawing upon the spatial theories of Gilles Deleuze and Flix Guattari and Michel de Certeau, Chapter 5 pursues two goals: it offers a revisionist account of Zora Neale Hurstons relationship with the Harlem Renaissance and it suggests that her work, read in the context of her letters and biographies, offers one way out of the Emersonian tradition of environmental abstraction. Although she is often portrayed as a central figure in the Harlem Renaissanceas the fun-loving, brash, life-of-the-party ZoraI argue that Hurston resented the system of patronage that she experienced in Harlem and that she viewed the South, and Florida in particular, as a place where the abjection of patronage could be avoided, where an alternative black art community could be formed and sustained, and where a vibrant black life could be practiced without impediment. From Richard Wright to Hazel Carby, Hurstons critics have claimed that she refused to engage the Great Migration and the desperate situation that the South offered to African Americans at the turn of the twentieth century. Against this line of critique, though, I suggest that Hurstons work is a bold act of spatial reterritorialization that uses fiction to reclaim a highly organic and immanently physical natural space within which a rich and vibrant African-American life can be practiced without fear, humiliation, or apology. I close Looking Away with an afterword that presents Ernest Hemingway as the fulfillment of American literatures politics of environmental evasion. Particularly in texts like In Our Time and Green Hills of Africa, Hemingway admits the reality of

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14 widespread environmental destruction but simultaneously proclaims that there will always be a last good country somewhere for those who have the knowledge, desire, and means to pursue it. He projects unpenetrated environments into indeterminate futures and retreats into imperialist quests for wild nature in Africain all cases maintaining an ahistorical, illimitable, and indestructible simulacrum of nature that comes to him from Emerson and promoting a Thoreauvean program of environmental imperialism that lacks Thoreaus claim that the self is the wilderness most worthy of pursuit. Notes 1 Several points warrant clarification from the beginning. First, New Americanists has become something of an empty term because the type of criticism to which it refers has come to dominate the field of Americanist criticism. I am using the name, however, to refer to a group of critics who were among the first to break from the myth/symbol school of criticism that dominated American Studies during the mid-twentieth century, and I generally accept the boundaries of the field as Pease describes it in New Americanists: Revisionist Interventions into the Canon. Here, Pease offers this list of the fields master-texts: F. O. Matthiessens American Renaissance (1941); Henry Nash Smiths Virgin Land (1950); R. W. B. Lewiss The American Adam (1955); Richard Chases The American Novel and Its Tradition (1957); Harry Levins The Power of Blackness: Hawthorne, Poe, Melville (1958); Leslie Fiedlers Love and Death in the American Novel (1960); Marcus Bewleys The Eccentric Design (1963); Leo Marxs The Machine in the Garden (1965); Richard Poiriers A World Elsewhere (1966); Quentin Andersons The Imperial Self (1971); Sacvan Bercovitchs American Jeremaid (1973) (12). As Peases argument develops he makes it quite clear who the New Americanists are and exactly how they are working to change the field of American Studies: Smiths Virgin Land gives way to Annette Kolodnys Lay of the Land and Slotkins Fatal Environment; R. W. B. Lewiss American Adam becomes Myra Jehlens American Incarnation, Carolyn Porters Seeing and Being, or Henry Louis Gatess Figures in Black; Chases American Novel and its Tradition ends up Russel Resings Unusable Past; Roy Harvey Pearces Continuity of American Poetry translates to Paul Boves Deconstructive Poetics, while Bercovitchs American Jeremaid finishes as Frank Lentricchias Criticism and Social Change (32) Secondly, the essay that I am discussing in the first paragraph of my introduction, National Identities, Postmodern Artifacts, and Postnational Narratives, is one of several pieces by Donald Pease that I will engage here. Because they have complex publication histories, I believe a brief explanation from the outset may eliminate any confusion. National Identitites is included in the second of two essay collections,

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15 edited by Pease, that were published in 1994. The first of these volumes, Revisionist Interventions into the Americanist Canon, was originally published as boundary 2 17.1 (1990), and the second, National Identities and Post-Americanist Narratives, was originally published as boundary 2 19.1 (1993). As I will mention later, Pease opens the first volume with his own New Americanists: Revisionist Interventions into the Canon, which critiques Frederick Crewss Whose American Renaissance? and he begins the second volume with National Identities, which continues his critique of Crews while also revising the position that he stakes out in his earlier New Americanists. The publication histories of these volumes are important, I believe, because it reveals two critical moments in the late twentieth-century transformation of American Studies. When Pease first wrote New Americanists, the state of the discipline was still very much in conflict, the course of the future was uncertain, and he was attempting to shape that uncertain future. By 1994, however, Pease and the other New Americanists had all but completed their revision of the field and the re-printed issues of boundary 2 are two of what Kramer recognizes as several taking-stock volumes that New Americanists produced as their particular methodswhich had seemed radical to those like Crewsbecame mainstream (109). 2 Since he published The Environmental Imagination, Buell has continued to publish explicitly ecocritical workWriting for an Endangered World : Literature, Culture, and Environment in the U.S. and Beyond (2001) and The Future of Environmental Criticism: Environmental Crisis And Literary Imagination (2005)and he has become something of a figurehead for ecocriticism. He served as the plenary speaker for the 2003 meeting of the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment, and in a short review of Writing for an Endangered World, Ulrich Baer offers this quick description of Buells status within the field, which is particularly effective for the way that it straddles accuracy and overstatement: Buell . is godfather to the academic field of ecocriticism (emphasis added). 3 As I will discuss throughout Looking Away, Recent histories of environmentalism, such as Robert Gottliebs Forcing the Spring: The Transformation of the American Environmental Movement insist upon a similarly long view of environmental politics.

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CHAPTER 2 JAMES FENIMORE COOPER, AMERICAN CANON FORMATION, AND THE ERASURE OF ENVIRONMENTAL ANXIETY In his most enduring body of work, the five novels of the Leatherstocking Series, published between 1823 and 1841, James Fenimore Cooper argues that the United States is expanding into a limited environment, that its dominant capitalist culture is environmentally ruinous and unsustainable, that the continent has always already been a contested space rather than a virgin void, and that language and science are transparent mechanisms of a Euro-American imperialism that was much more complex than the squatters, squires, and outcasts that populate his romances. James Fenimore Cooper, his writings, and his environmental awareness, however, have all been written out of the field of American literature by generations of critics whose aesthetic projects and political interests differ drastically from his own. During his own lifetime, Cooper was tremendously successful in commercial terms, but he had his difficulties. He was born into a federalist family and held federalist sympathies as the nation turned toward Jeffersonian, and later Jacksonian, democratic politics. He was a voice of cultural reflexivity that maintained an internationalist perspective in the face of growing American nationalism and artistic nativism. During his lifetime, however, he never faced the type of sustained critical dismantling that really begins with Mark Twains famous 1895 Fenimore Coopers Literary Offences, which Jonathan Arac accurately describes in Nationalism, Hypercanonization, and Huckleberry Finn as an attempt to remove literature from history and politics. Beginning shortly 16

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17 after the publication of Twains essay and throughout most of the twentieth century, major critics of American literature and culture including George Santayana, Van Wyck Brooks, D. H. Lawrence, F. O. Matthiessen, Henry Nash Smith, Richard Chase, Leslie Fiedler, even Leo Marx, have fulfilled Twains vision an ahistorical and apolitical literature through the institution of a literary aesthetic that is based upon what Jane Tompkins calls the modernist demands of psychological complexity, moral ambiguity, epistemological sophistication, stylistic density, formal economy (xvii). The critics who have endorsed this modernist aesthetic have devalued works whose stated purpose is to influence the course of history, and which therefore employ a language that is not only not unique but common and accessible to everyone, and in the process they have drastically devalued Cooper and almost entirely silenced the environmental anxieties that are a part of his vision of a historically and politically embedded natural world (125). Removing Cooper from History When Twain issued his 1895 mockery of James Fenimore Cooper, George Santayana had already earned his B. A. at Harvard in 1882 and was working toward the Ph.D. and faculty appointment that he would earn from the same institution in 1889. Five years later, in 1904, Van Wyck Brooks enrolled at Harvard. T. S. Eliot followed in 1906. Before Santayana emigrated to Great Britain in 1912, he had made lasting impressions on Brooks, who graduated in 1907, and Eliot, who, after earning his B.A. in 1910 and his M.A. in 1911, had begun working toward the Ph.D. in philosophy that he would never complete. In the early decades of the twentieth century, Santayana and Brooks offered critiques of American literature and culture that would clear the historical stage of all but a few figures around whom later critics, like Lawrence, Matthiessen, Chase, and Fiedler

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18 would construct a coherent and relatively compact American canon that culminated in the aesthetic systems of modernists like Eliot. 1 In The Genteel Tradition in American Philosophy, an address that he delivered and published in 1911, Santayana makes a series of claims that resonate throughout the Americanist criticism of the twentieth century. He argues that from a time shortly after its beginning the American cultural scene has been hamstrung by a dominance an intellectual system, derived from bastardized forms of Calvinism and Transcendentalism, that is outdated, weak, passive, and feminine. This genteel tradition, he argues, is the product of a Calvinism that has lost its convictions and its sense of rigor and a Transcendentalism that has lost its focus on systematic thought (61). It is a lazy, decadent, and doubly artificial intellectual foundation that precluded the development of any legitimate national literature with the exception of a few rare masters whose genius could not be squelched by the meager culture that produced them (61). American literary history, for Santayana, is limited to Poe, Hawthorne, and Emerson, authors who would not retail the genteel tradition but who were starved by a national culture that could notor would notsupport them, and Walt Whitman, the one American writer who has left the genteel tradition entirely behind (43, 52). Cooper, of course, was not starved by the nineteenth-century reading public, he did not disdain the femininity of his audience, and he was not ashamed of writing to satisfy it, none of which is lost on Leslie Fiedler, who repeats Santayanas gender bias in Love and Death in the American Novel when he states, in a scandalized tone, that Cooper began his career imitating an English gentlewoman . . It is disconcerting to find him impersonating a female (186). 2 After Santayanas The Genteel Tradition in

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19 American Philosophy and before Fiedlers Love and Death in the American Novel, however, it was Van Wyck Brooks who was the most committed to undoing Coopers critical reputation. Brookss foundational critique of Cooper appears in his 1915 Americas Coming of Age, a text that F. O. Matthiessen describes in American Renaissance as Brookss most rigorous, most intellectually engaged, and most critically discriminating volume of criticism (Matthiessen xvii). In his analysis of American culture, Brooks recapitulates Santayanas emphasis on a divided American mind using two of the historical figures that are central to Santayanas analysis. For Brooks, American national culture is composed of an original puritanism that split into a highbrow current of Transcendentalism that reached its nadir in the philosophies of Jonathan Edwards and Ralph Waldo Emerson before becoming feminized, passive, and intellectually lazy, and a lowbrow current of catchpenny opportunism that coalesced in the figure of Benjamin Franklin before ultimately producing the atmosphere of contemporary business life (10). Brooks argues that this bifurcated culture, this slightly redefined genteel tradition, has stifled cultural and literary development in the United States, that even in the second decade of the twentieth century the nation is still like a vast Sargasso Seaa prodigious welter of unconscious life, swept by ground-swells of half-conscious emotion from which very few authors of merit have been able to emerge (164). Following Santayana, Brooks regards Emerson, Hawthorne, and Poe as qualified successes whose writings can do no better than present a fastidiously intellectual shadow world . in which only two colors exist, white and black, while hailing Walt Whitman as the only American literary figure who has been able to transcend the

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20 strictures of his native culture (113). Whitman, Brooks argues, was a great vegetable of a man, all of a piece in roots, flavor, substantiality, and succulence, well-ripened in the common sunshine who offered America, for the first time . something organic in American life (112). Within his organic self, the hitherto incompatible extremes of the American temperament were fused; he cast into a crucible all those things which had been separate, self-sufficient, incordinate in American culture, and they emerged, harmonious and molten, in a fresh democratic ideal, which is based upon the whole personality (112, 118). As critical as they were to establishing the centrality of Emerson, Poe, Hawthorne, and Whitman within an emerging American national literature, these arguments of Santayana and Brooks alternately exclude and dismiss Cooper. Never a subject of discussion in Santayanas work, where he looms as a silent and unacknowledged specter of the genteel tradition that disgusts him, Brooks describes Cooper as a participant in a womanish and domestic literature of necessity (47). Entirely secondary to a higher absolute literature, Coopers variety of literature, Brooks argues, was simply a cog in the machinery of life whose practitioners, like prudent women who, having moved into a new house, energetically set to work laying down carpets, papering walls, cutting and hanging the most appropriate window-curtains, and pruning the gardenmaking it, in short, a place of reasonable charm and contentment (47 emphasis added). Authors who participated in this literature of necessity, Brooks argues, were moralists . shot through with all manner of baccalaureate ideals who produced texts that were rendered barren by ulterior objectives of success or

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21 salvation that were as ruinous to literary production as the ulterior object of making money (50, 53 emphasis added). Brookss patronizing claim that Coopers art performs the womans work of a more masculine and absolute American literature is clearly meant to demean, as is his quick but stabbing suggestion that any awareness of market forces produces a debased literature. The more lasting violence that Santayana and Brooks exact against Cooper, however, is their almost entire erasure of the literary and political situations that surround his work. As two of his early twentieth-century defenders, Robert Spiller and Vernon Louis Parrington, argue, Cooper emerged from a federalist political tradition and he grappled with the federalist/democratic binary throughout his career. Coopers father was a federalist, he attended Yale during the reign of the arch-federalist Timothy Dwight, and as a landowner who wished to maintain his holdings against the wishes of an increasingly democratic populous, he had deep federalist sympathies during his own lifetime. 3 The political system that the Santayana/Brooks train of Americanist criticism endorses, however, is clearly democratic. Brooks glorifies Whitman, after all, because he embodies a fresh democratic ideal and the critics who have shaped the field after Brooks have followed his lead. D. H. Lawrence opens his 1933 Studies in Classic American Literature with a discussion of Benjamin Franklin and continues on to Crvecoeur, whose yeoman agrarianism anticipates Jeffersonian democracy, and arrives at Cooper with no more historical or political context than this. The first sentence of the prologue to Henry Nash Smiths 1950 Virgin Land is Crvecoeurs question, What is an American? From there, Smith opens his book with a discussion of Jefferson and follows

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22 a democratic trajectory that culminates in a chapter on democracys bard, Walt Whitman, before ever engaging Cooper. Even Leo Marxs 1964 Machine in the Garden, which one might reasonably expect to engage Cooper, opens with a discussion of Hawthorne, proceeds into a discussion of Shakespeare, and then entirely overshoots Cooper and his historical moment as it moves from discussions of Robert Beverly and Jefferson to Emerson, Thoreau, Melville, Twain, Henry James, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. Rehistoricizing Cooper A century-old tradition of ahistorical criticismpunctuated only by the rare historical emphasis of a Spiller or Parrington until the paradigm-shifting work of Nina Baym, Jane Tompkins, Jonathan Arac, and Donald Pease in the 1980s and 1990sstands in the way of historicizng Cooper in any fashion, but to suggest that Coopers famous lamentations of environmental abuse should be taken seriously as moments of legitimate environmentalist resistance is to stack roadblock upon roadblock. 4 When Leo Marx initially published The Machine in the Garden, critics argued that his basic thesis transposed a twentieth-century technological anxiety onto nineteenth-century texts, that his work was anachronistic or presentist, and the threat of such criticism seems to continue to hang over any investigation of environmentalist sentiment in pre-contemporary American literature. 5 Americanist scholarship in general and Cooper criticism in particular have each worked to squelch any suggestion that legitimate environmentalist sympathies can be read in Coopers texts. One of the first major critical texts to suggest such a reading, Annette Kolodnys The Lay of the Land, was met with almost immediate refutation. 6 Kolodny argues that young James Fenimore Cooper saw with dismay the gutting of forests and the increase of the population, that his creation of Templeton in The

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23 Pioneers was a deliberate attempt to correct some of the abuses he had witnessed, and that his landowning aristocrat, Marmaduke Temple was a well-intentioned conservationist for his attempts at regulating fishing and hunting seasons and for his interest in similar means of protecting forests (72, 91). In her 1979 New World, New Earth, Cecilia Tichi attempts to sweep the feet from under Kolodny by arguing that the recognition of conservationist sentiments in pre-contemporary authors is nothing more than an act of mistaking palpable present effects for past intentions (xvii). Far from heedlessly vandalizing the environment, Tichi argues, early Americans saw its modificationin fact, its reformas an ideological imperative that must proceed together with Americas moral regeneration (viii). Within this frame, Tichi argues that In Coopers fiction, environmental reform is a national imperative authorized by the American gentleman who is Coopers national paragon. While the Leatherstocking Tales collectively affirm the aesthetic and ethical values of the pristine wilderness, principally through the character of Natty Bumppo, the novelists American gentleman mandate environmental reform in the name of civilization. (169) The essential differences between the interpretations of Kolodny and Tichi lie in their critical and cultural politics. Kolodny is engaged in defining strains of dissent whereas Tichi, as this long passage demonstrates, only grants legitimacy to dominant or mainstream ideologies. Because Cooper was skeptical about the national project of transforming the New World into a New Earth, Tichi interprets Coopers entire artistic project as a failure that ends in moral allegory and diatribe unleavened by satiric skill, a fecal commemoration of a rotten New Earth (187). 7 In essays that focus exclusively on James Fenimore Cooper, Richard Godden and Charles Swann follow Tichi in rejecting Coopers environmental anxieties by deconstructing the innocence of Marmaduke Temples game laws in The Pioneers. In a

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24 statement that aligns his critical perspective with that of Tichi in New World, New Earth, Godden writes that Temples game laws are too often taken ecologically. Temple as conservationist arises exclusively from twentieth-century misreading; his interest in deer, maple and bass, like his interest in coal and canals, expresses a preoccupation with development (125). And while Swann does not entirely discredit the conservationist aims of Temples game laws in such a manner, he recognizes that the history of game laws is a history of class laws, and he argues that Temples game laws constitute a democratic rhetoric referring to the rule of law which conceals the way in which a would-be American aristocracy is in danger of replicating an aristocratic Europe (97, 100). Tichi, Godden, and Swann submit Kolodnys initial claims about Coopers environmentalist concerns to valuable scrutiny, but they perform their own misreadings by dismissing environmentalism as a strictly contemporary movement and by failing to read Coopers environmental interventions against the much different environmental attitudes of the federalist tradition out of which he emerged and for which we all know he held deep sympathies. Although environmentalism is popularly periodized as the product of the 1960s and 1970s (the decades that produced Rachel Carsons Silent Spring in 1962, the passage of the Wilderness Act in 1964, and the celebration of Earth Day in 1970), historians of the movement agree, almost unanimously, that the movement has much older origins. Some scholars, such as Max Oelschlaeger and Carolyn Merchant, locate the origins of environmental crisis in Judeo-Christian, or Abrahamic, land ethics (Oelschlaegers terms) and the European Enlightenment while they locate points of environmentalist resistance throughout their telescopic historical narratives. Oelschlaeger and Merchant offer the most radical histories of environmental crisis and

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25 environmental resistance, but even the consensus among more conventional historians of environmentalism such as Samuel P. Hays, Roderick Nash, William Cronon, Stephen Fox, Robert Gottlieb, and Jack Davis, however, holds that the roots of American environmentalism, which is my most immediate concern here, were planted well before the nineteenth century, that since the colonial times, there were those who perceivedand some who lamentedthe dramatic transformation of a pristine continent as a result of European migration, European technology, European economics, and European values (Shabecoff 2). 8 From a historical perspective that grants environmentalism a deep history, it is perfectly reasonable to situate American federalism in a long history of environmental destruction and environmentalist resistance, but situating Cooper in such a history is more difficult. Any sense of environment in mainstream American literary criticism has been thoroughly depoliticized and transformed into discussions of landscape, symbol, or myth, while the dominant critical traditionas it has been shaped by those like Santayana, Brooks, and Lawrencehas created a literary teleology of democracy that finds its earliest articulation in a Crvecoeur whose goal of defining a new and culturally autonomous American in largely optimistic terms has always suited the literary institutions critical objectives. Through the work of those like Lawrence and Henry Nash Smith, Crvecoeurs 1784 Letters from an American Farmer has simply become an American master text that provides a familiarbut not necessarily the best or the most completecontext for all that surrounds it. In Coopers Leather-Stocking Novels, Geoffrey Rans attempts to situate Cooper in the context of American federalism by the trenchant republicanism of the opening of

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26 The Pioneers as a continuation of Hector St. John de Crvecoeurs faith in the happy effects which constantly flow . from sobriety and industry, when united with good land and freedom (6). While I find Ranss concern with republicanism well directed, I do not believe that Crvecoeurs text is the best point of entry into Coopers art. In his own day, Crvecoeurs 1784 Letters from an American Farmer would have hardly seemed more literary than several federalist histories of American settlement that were written by figures close to Cooper. Fenimore Coopers father, William Cooper, and Timothy Dwight, who was president of Yale University while Fenimore Cooper was a student there, both published texts that pay close attention to the relationship between American culture and the North American environment. 9 Following the methods and concerns of Jeremy Belknaps History of New Hampshire (published in three volumes between 1784 and 1792), William Coopers 1810 A Guide in the Wilderness and Dwights Travels in New England and New York (published in four volumes during 1821 and 1822) record the history of the United States in environmental, social, and religious terms, and they devote significant space to describing United States expansionism as a wholly benevolent process that nonetheless needed strict guidance to prevent it from becoming wasteful and environmentally unsustainable. 10 When Fenimore Cooper discusses processes of European settlement and the North American environment in the Leatherstocking series, he writes in conversation with these textssometimes extending their arguments and sometimes rejecting them. The most obvious difference between the federalist histories and Coopers historical romances are Coopers deep misgivings about the environmental consequences and sustainability of American expansionism. The federalist histories envision United States expansionism as

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27 the extension of individual enterprise into a virgin void, and they identify environmental exhaustion as a real but remediable threat to the progress of national expansion. In the Leatherstocking series, on the other hand, Cooper presents American expansionism as a much more complex and insidious national project involving the military, linguistic, and scientific subjugation of a socio-politically embedded un-virgin space, and he rejects the managerial optimism of his father and Timothy Dwight to present resource exhaustion as an unsolvable impediment to the expansion of American civilization. Throughout the four volumes of his Travels in New England and New York, Dwight explains that settlement involves unattractive phases characterized by tree stumps and burnt tree trunks like the ones that snow obscures from Elizabeth Temples view at the beginning of The Pioneers. None of the ugliness involved in the process, however, prevents Dwight from declaring that newly settled valleys in the bloom of cultivation present the richest prospect in New England, if not in the United States, that North America is filled with inexhaustible resources, and that the transformation of wilderness into civilization can be accomplished using methods that are alternately good and bad (1: 257). In one of his most ecstatic moments, for instance, he views the Connecticut River valley from the summit of Mount Holyoke and finds that A perfect neatness and brilliancy is everywhere diffused, without a neglected spot to tarnish the luster or excite a wish in the mind for a higher finish. All these objects united present here a collection of beauties to which I know no parallel. When the eye traces this majestic stream, meandering with a singular course through these delightful fields . it will be difficult not to say that with these exquisite varieties of beauty and grandeur the relish for landscape is filled. (1: 259) This vision, one of the most enraptured of Dwights entire four-volume travel narrative, is surely a legitimate response to a remarkable place, but its effect is aided by

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28 the elevated, panoramic, and godlike perspective of Dwights gaze. 11 At ground level, however, Dwight, like Belknap and William Cooper, cannot avoid the fact that such idyllic scenes depend on the perpetuity of the immanently exhaustible natural resources that make them possible. Of these three authors, only Belknap, in the earliest of the texts I am discussing here, entirely avoids issues of resource scarcity. Belknap never admits any real limits to natures resources, but he does suggest that human impactdeforestation in particularmay result in permanent climate change, and he offers detailed advice on rural economy, or how to make the best use of whatever natural resources may be available at any particular location (Belknap 3: 248). 12 William Cooper and Dwight, writing slightly later than Belknap, are deeply anxious about the durability of environmental resources. Coopers text is written in direct response to a letter from William Sampson that suggests Cooper should boast of having cut down two millions of trees, only before asking Cooper, several pages later, if too great zeal for clearing may render [timber] in some time as scarce as it is now abundant (4). The best Cooper can do is confirm that forest exhaustion is a real threat, but Dwight, who is reluctant even to make this concession, demonstrates more clearly that the only response to environmental depletion within a federalist vision of American society is a faith in the regenerative capacity of the natural world that he weds to a laissez faire faith in the ultimate triumph of the type of good federalism that Cooper spells out in his Guide. In his most vehement critique of deforestation, Dwight writes that The people of Newbury appear to have cut down their forest with an improvident hand: an evil but too common in most parts of this country. Unhappily it is an increasing evil, and may hereafter put a final stop to the progress of population long before it will have reached to the natural acme. Almost every person

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29 complains of this imprudence; and yet not a single efficacious nor hopeful measure is adopted to lessen or even check it. . Forecast is certainly no predominant trait in the character of man, else an evil of this magnitude would create very serious apprehensions. (2: 238) It may be obvious, but the particular vigor of this statement is worth emphasizing. Dwight considers this improvident destruction of forest evil, and he recognizes that the situation in Newbury is merely representative of a much larger problem. The consequences, for Dwight, are clear and drastic: the misuse of resources hay hinder population growth, and, to read what I think runs just beneath the surface of Dwights statement, may prevent the nation from reaching the natural acme that Dwight clearly believes throughout his Travels to be total transcontinental domination. Dwight is clearly troubled by the fact that in Newburys representative situation not a single efficacious nor hopeful measure is adopted to lessen or check the course of environmental destruction, but he does nothing to suggest any regulatory measures. His most common response, to the contrary, is to emphasize that forests renew themselves (1: 75). In the first volume of his Travels, for instance, Dwight writes to his imagined British reader that it may seem strange to you, accustomed as you are to see forest trees planted in great numbers and preserved with great care, that the inhabitants of this country should so soon after its colonization have cut down their forests in this extensive manner . . this wanton manner without any apparent reason (1: 74). To explain this strange phenomenonand to diffuse the environmental anxiety that I believe neither William Cooper nor James Fenimore Cooper can entirely ignoreDwight explains that the wood of this country is its fuel and that the trees of New England renew themselves in a manner and by a process totally superior to any contrived by the human mind; they are furnished by the Author of Nature with the means of perpetual self

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30 restoration (1: 75). Good grounds, he continues yield a growth [of wood] amply sufficient for fuel once in fourteen years and with proper husbandry the forests of New England become in a sense ever living and supply plentifully the wants of the inhabitants (1: 75). The only solution to environmental depletion for Dwight is natures regenerative capacity, which he believes to be greater in North American than anywhere else. William Cooper, however, mounts an argument in his Guide that Dwight would absolutely affirm: the only way to ensure a prosperous and sustainable settlement (in social, economic, and environmental terms) is to institute a benevolent federalist social and political plan. Where Cooper sees failed settlements (among which I believe Dwights Newbury would qualify), he sees the failure of plans in which large landlords have reserved favorite tracts, retained mill sites in their own hands; . opened expensive roads, and built costly bridges at their own charge. They have too early insisted with rigor upon payment, and forced the purchaser to surrender a part or the whole of his possession (37). Coopers plan, which he promotes throughout the Guide, involves large landowners granting land to both rich and poor settlers, actually selling rather than leasing tracts of land, and cultivating goodwill and a sense of community among settlers by practicing extreme patience with lien holders and accomplishing large-scale improvements through communal effort. William Cooper and Timothy Dwight feel that an ill-managed federalist settlement governed by greedy and speculative patricians can produce results just as devastating to the raw materials of national prosperity as the type of thoroughly self-serving democratic mob that Fenimore Cooper represents in the pioneering Ishmael Bush

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31 clan of The Prairie. Despite the fact that he always harbored deep misgivings about democracy, Fenimore Cooper breaks from the federalist faith of his father and Timothy Dwight. In structuring the central conflicts of The Pioneers around the looming spectre of environmental exhaustion that his forefathers ignored or downplayed, Fenimore Cooper demonstrates that he has no faith that any social or governmental system can control the environmental rapacity that he recognizes to be a fundamental component of an essentially violent and imperialistic Euro-American culture. Scholars like Godden and Swann have certainly identified the self-interest involved in Marmaduke Temples creation of game laws, but such arguments fail to recognize that the federalist vision that William Cooper and Timothy Dwight promote relies upon a benevolent aristocratic self-interest and that in several key places Fenimore Cooper extends the problem of resource exhaustion beyond any sense of personal interest as he implies that it impinges on regional and national prosperity. In his A Guide in the Wilderness, William Cooper is quite clear that the best interests of landowners should also serve the best interests of their tenants, and Judge Temples laws represent an attempt at fulfilling the type of managerial perfection that William Cooper envisions. And when the game laws emerge flawedthey not only solidify a class system but, at least in the case of the fishing regulations, work against their own stated conservationist goals, 13 they signal not only the failure of Judge Temple but also the failure of the entire federalist system that extends back to Cooper and Dwight. The failure of Temples game laws is all the more painful for the fact that throughout The Pioneers Cooper stares environmental destruction in the face as neither Dwight nor William Cooper ever could. Where Dwight and Cooper ignore or explain

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32 away alarming forms of environmental destruction, in the 1832 introduction to The Pioneers, Cooper foregrounds his text with a footnote that calls particular attention to environmental destruction. Using language that could not be more direct, he writes that the Otsego is beginning to be a niggard of its treasures, and in the body of the novel itselfand significantly outside the dramatic pigeon-shooting and fishing scenes that garner so much critical attentionCooper defines environmental scarcity as a problem with regional and national implications that extend beyond any sense of personal self interest (9). When Temple remarks that settlers are already felling the forests as if no end could be found to their treasures, nor any limits to their extent . twenty years hence we shall want fuel, he presents a strident definitionagainst the resistance of Richard Jones, who constantly preaches natures illimitabilityof the natural world as limited and threatened by destruction at human hands, and he offers this comment in a tone vague enough to suggest that the problem extends well beyond the bounds of Templeton (105). More than two hundred pages later, when the novel again turns to a discussion of the state of forests, Cooper absolutely rejects Dwights faith in forests regenerative capacity when he has Temple remind Billy Kirby that the maples he is damaging are the growth of centuries, and when once gone, none living will ever see their loss remedied (228). By the time that Natty Bumppo flees Templeton for the uninhabited wilds where he reappears in The Prairie, he and Cooper have both abandoned any faith in federalisms ability to ameliorate environmental destruction. When Natty turns westward, he concedes that not even a federalist patrician like Oliver Edwards, who has been trained by Natty himself in the bosom of the nations nature and who has married a woman in

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33 Elizabeth Temple who appreciates natures beauty, can quell either his own rapacious impulses or those of such reckless individuals as Richard Jones and Billy Kirby. Ultimately, Cooper cannot see a way out of the patterns of environmental destruction that he confronts in The Pioneers, but his rejection of established federalist modes of viewing the environment and avoiding environmental crisis develop, as Leatherstocking series continues, into a thorough critique of the U. S.s orientation toward the natural space it occupies. Although his engagement with the problem is often less explicit than it is in The Pioneers, throughout the rest of the Leatherstocking tales Cooper sustains a critical counternarrative against any triumphalist notion of North American environmental virginity or illimitability. From The Last of the Mohicans to The Deerslayer (the second and final novels of the series), Cooper situates American expansionism as the product of military, linguistic, and scientific violence taking place in a wholly unromantic space that does not constitute virgin ground so much as an already bloody field that Europeans and white Americans have recently come to occupy simply as the most violent, insidious, and numerous forces in play. In The Spy, Cooper presents the North American environment as contested space, or neutral ground, but beginning with The Last of the Mohicans, he begins to mount a more radical rejection of the virgin land myth. Rather than empty or virgin space, in each of the Leatherstocking tales after The Pioneers (The Last of the Mohicans, The Prairie, The Pathfinder, and The Deerslayer) Cooper consistently describes the North American environment as a space of bloody conflict. As the first novel of the Leathestocking series to descend into the prehistory of The Pioneers, The Last of the Mohicans describes the North American continent as a space that has been shaped by

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34 violence since European settlement. Cooper insists that there was no recess of the woods so dark, nor any secret place so lovely, that it might claim exemption from the inroads of those who had pledged their blood to satiate their vengeance, or to uphold the cold and selfish policy of the distant monarchs of Europe (11). He recognizes, as Rans explains, that European arms represent a clear threat to nature, powerful though the presence of the forest is, and that the European imperial adventure has at its end the defilement of nature (Rans 109, 108, 107). The village of Templeton, Cooper suggests at the outset of The Last of the Mohicans, is not simply the product of what Timothy Dwight would describe as equivocal, or mysterious, generation; it is built, much to the contrary, in a region that was first a bloody arena, a scene of strife and bloodshed (Mohicans 13). The Last of the Mohicans suggests that North American space has been a zone of contest since the European incursion, but Cooper makes more radical claims in The Prairie and The Deerslayer. In both of these novels, he denies any sense that the North American continent had ever, at least within human history, constituted a virgin or empty space. As Ishmael Bush and Thomas Hutter push their predictable ideas of property ownership into various frontier zones, Cooper emphasizes that their claims of ownership are not the first but merely the newestthat every North American space has always existed under military and political mediation. Through the voice of Natty Bumppo in The Prairie, for instance, Cooper insists that The Teton and the Pawnee and the Konza, and men of a dozen other tribes claim to own these naked fields that Ishmael Bush is attempting to possess, and in his own undisguised narratorial voice Cooper adds that Bushs attempt at legitimizing his land-grabbing is a wild conceit (78).

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35 Coopers rejection of the virgin land myth is more radical in The Deerslayer by virtue of its deconstruction of the myth in an even more remote historical moment. Here, in a novel set in 1745 and well beyond the geographical boundaries of regular European settlement, in a scene that William P. Kelly receives uncritically as a virgin wilderness, Cooper punctures the myth of virgin land by planting a fortified house, Muskrat Castle, in the middle of the most unspoiled natural space that he ever describes (39). The very fact that Tom Hutters castle, which Kelly does recognize to contain contains numerous symbols of European power and violence, has come to be stationed in the middle of the lake in the first place is a constant reminder that this seemingly primitive location is already overwritten with conflicts of ownershipHutter has built the castle in the lake because native Americanswho do not recognize Hutters claim of ownershiphave repeatedly burnt him out of the homes he built on dry land. As Natty and Hurry Harry discuss the implications of this fortified house that seems to float in the middle of the lake, they enumerate the claims of ownership that hang over the place: they mention that the only lawful owner of the place is the King, but that Tom Hutter . has got possession and is like to keep it as long as his life lasts, while at the same time Native Americans come and go but leave the impression that the country seems to belong to no native tribe in particularall of this despite the fact that Mohawks are in a position to cede the land should a heavy enough buyer emerge (37). From particular points of viewparticularly those that read Coopers engagement with issues of property and class in the context of his own loss of property and statusit is certainly possible to interpret Coopers rejection of the virgin land idea as little more than a legitimization of Europes bloody involvement in what was always a violently

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36 negotiated space. Within the frame of federalist historiography and Coopers engagement with it, however, his rejection of the virgin land myth forces violent European (and later, American) imperialism to appear as the violent acts that they are without being distorted by a screen of cultural myth that transforms the acts into a sanitized and ambivalent expansion into empty space. This argument is further supported, I believe, by evidence that Cooper understood European and American imperialism to be vast and complex mechanisms composed of seemingly innocuous forcesnamely, language and science. Cooper invests language with significant spatial agency in The Last of the Mohicans and The Deerslayer, while he places sciencein the form of natural historyin the vanguard of American expansionism in The Prairie. In The Last of the Mohicans and The Deerslayer, Cooper does something in his place descriptions that Timothy Dwight and William Cooper never do in their historical works: he peels away the layers of language that have been superimposed over particular places over spans of time, and he associates the most recent layers of language as racially and environmentally destructive. Cooper performs this archaeology of place names at the outset of The Last of the Mohicans. In a passage that would seem horribly and unnecessarily circumlocutious to Lawrence, Fiedler, or Chase, Cooper refuses to simply state that the action of the story occurs around Lake George, a place that Dwight visited and described in his Travels without any sort of equivocation whatsoever. Cooper explains, instead, that the central action of the story will occur around a lake that the French had named du Saint Sacrement, that the English had named Lake George, and that the Native Americans had named Horican (12). The process of naming, Cooper recognizes, erases not only

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37 a Native American name but also the act of the violent act of renamingthe names Lake George and du Saint Sacrement were only established, Cooper writes, because European nations had united to rob the untutored possessors of the wooded scenery of their native right (12, emphasis added). Cooper finds this history of naming significant enough to expand it into a footnote where he suggests an even deeper linguistic history of the place (since the Indians have multiple languages and dialects, the lake may have even more names), where he translates the Indian name Horican into The Tail of the Lake (which is significantly devoid of the religious and nationalist connotations of the French and English names) and where he cheapens the enduring and legal Lake George appellation by describing it as vulgar (12). This same attention to place names (which loosens the coherence of Coopers plots and adds a layer of complexity that would never improve his standing in the main line of Americanist criticism) also appears in The Deerslayer, with the added caveat that here the arrival of an English name is clearly understood to herald a places destruction. One of Nattys reactions to seeing Glimmerglass lake is to ask Hurry Harry, Have the governors, or the Kings people given this lake a name (44). Natty feels that to give a place an English name is to disturb natur, and he is relieved to find that the place has no pale face name, for their christenings always foretel waste and destruction (45). Despite finding pleasure in the absence of an official English name, Natty understands that the place still exists in a historical and social matrix involving red skins, who would have their own modes of knowing it and who would be likely to call the place by something reasonable and resembling, even if he does not know the names himself (45).

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38 Cooper clearly understands that language is an agent of imperial violence and erasure, and he describes language as one of the first mechanisms of imperialism to affect a place after European incursion. In The Prairie, however, Cooper draws science into the vanguard of American expansionism through his treatment of Obed Battius, whom Richard Chase dismisses as a scientist-pedant who has stepped out of the pages of Smollett or Fielding to investigate the flora and fauna of the plains who is tiresome and who appears in comic passages that are incredibly bad (59). 14 Regardless of the literary history that may have influenced Coopers development of the character, Battius is also a significant representative in The Prairie of natural science, a science that has been complicit with imperialist expansion since its inception. Numerous scholars have unpacked the politics of natural science since Michel Foulcaults groundbreaking critique of European rationalism in The Order of Things. By now, however, it is fairly commonplace to recognize, as Lee Rust Brown does in the context of Ralph Waldo Emersons interest in natural history, that natural science emerged in the early sixteenth century and grew along a course parallel to that of European exploration and colonial expansion (97). Mary Louise Pratt, who deals with natural science more directly than Brown, argues that natural science is actually deeply complicit with European imperialism, and she offers a much more vivid picture of the projects that natural science shared with European empire. Natural sciences drive toward the total systematization of nature, she writes, coincides with the height of the slave trade, the plantation system, colonial genocide in North America and South Africa, slave rebellions in the Andes, the Caribbean, North America, elsewhere (36).

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39 In the Leatherstocking series, Battius, as a natural scientist, amounts to an image of a European bourgeois subject simultaneously innocent and imperial and the science that he brings into the American West asserts a seemingly harmless hegemonic vision that instills no apparatus of domination (Pratt 34). The scientific apparatus of domination that Battius represents is certainly less bloody than the military means of domination that appear in The Last of the Mohicans, The Pathfinder, and The Deerslayer, but it is far more insidious. In The Prairie, this imperial natural science has penetrated the continental interior far beyond the reach of any significant military power, and even if Bat is a failure of a naturalist, his presence points to the fact that natural science has already reached and moved beyond the ground that he occupies with the Bush clan. As soon as Battius enters the novel, Cooper uses him to explain that even though Ishmael Bush and his family have penetrated the continent far beyond the bounds of civilization, they have notand perhaps cannotmove into territory unknown to science. Battius, after all, has just completed a two-day walk in the wilderness without seeing even a blade of grass that is not already enumerated and classed (69). The place has already been penetrated, and every organism in it classified, by a quick-moving science that is already pushing into the Wests outer reaches, even as Battius speaks, with explorers like Lewis and Clark (whose expedition is, after all, the reason that Duncan Uncas Middleton enters the novel in the first place). Battius brings to The Prairie the natural scientists ability to read a placeand to read the scientific knowledge that has already been cast over it. Battius never finds any organisms that are unknown to science, but everywhere he looks he finds evidence of sciences presence, and by constantly articulating the otherwise invisible presence of science Battius offers a reminder that the

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40 entire continental span has already been penetrated, classified, and brought to order by a scientific force that would otherwise remain invisible. In the end, Coopers engagement with environmental crisis, which eventually becomes a critique of imperialist Euro-American culture, has hardly counted for anything for the better part of a century. Shortly after the turn of the twentieth century, Robert Spiller and Vernon Louis Parrington recognized that Cooper may have been the most incisive critic of American literature and culture of his day, but their interpretations have been overwritten by a dominant mode of criticism that dismisses history and politics altogether. Coopers abandonment of a federalist faith in environmental inexhaustibility, his deconstruction of the American mythology of virgin land, and his recognition of American culture as a destructive and bloody imperial force have all gone unrecognized within a critical tradition that has considered him, in the words of Leslie Fiedler, an ultimate failure of an author who had all the qualifications for a great American writer except the simple ability to write, whose works are monumental in their cumulative dullness, nearly unreadable because of their hysteria and piety, appropriately read . .in large print and embellished with pictures, and remembered if at all, as childrens books, exciting and incredibly boring by turns (191, 180). As Rans recognizes, the gap between the publication of The Prairie and The Pathfinder wrought a difference in Cooper (173). Where the opening passages of the earlier three Leatherstocking novels begin with descriptions of nature overlaid with historical, ideological, or political implications, the opening scenes of The Pathfinder and The Deerslayer feature landscapes that are deliberately mythicor

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41 ahistoricaland explicitly defined in terms of the sublime, the picturesque, and the beautiful (Rans 173). Although, as I have demonstrated, the critique of American expansionism that Cooper develops throughout the first three novels makes its appearance in both The Pathfinder and The Deerslayer, these novels, the final two of the series, present markedly different visions of a natural world. Here, for the first time, Cooper explicitly describes nature as sublime, a term that Cooper never uses in the Leatherstocking series until 1841 in the opening pages of The Pathfinder. While it is possible to explain the shifts that occur between The Prairie and The Deerslayer as Coopers efforts to finally turn Natty Bumppo into a mythical hero, Coopers turn away from the highly historically and politically enmeshed natural world of The Pioneers, The Last of the Mohicans, and The Prairie toward the deliberately mythical and self-consciously sublime landscapes of The Pathfinder and The Deerslayer also participates in a national movement toward the abstract vision of nature that Ralph Waldo Emerson articulated in his 1833 Nature. As I will discuss in the following chapters, it would be Emersons vision of a wholly abstract, ahistorical, and apolitical Nature that would become, to the critical detriment of Cooper and Longfellow (whom I will also discuss at length later in Chapter 3), the only legitimate notion of nature within the American literary canon that began to take shape, at the hands of critics like George Santayana and Van Wyck Brooks, in the early decades of the twentieth century. Notes 1 I may have never become interested in Harvards impact on American literary history had I not encountered Frank Lentricchias The Modernist Quartet, which situates Santayana, John Dewey, William James, and Josiah Royce as chief influences of T. S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, Wallace Stevens, and Robert Frost.

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42 2 William Charvats discussion of Cooper in The Profession of Authorship in America: 1800-1870 is still a foundational study of Coopers commercial success and his understanding of both his audience and the nuances of the nineteenth-century publishing industry. James D. Wallaces Early Cooper and His Audience, however, offers a longer and more comprehensive analysis. 3 While William Cooper often garners a passing mention in James Fenimore Coopers critical biographies, as is the case in Donald A. Ringes standard James Fenimore Cooper, he has received very little sustained attention since Robert Spillers Fenimore Cooper: Critic of His Times and the second volume of Vernon Louis Parringtons Main Currents in American Thought. In a significant exception to this tradition of silence, however, Wayne Franklin spends a bit more space on William Cooper in The New World of James Fenimore Cooper, but, on the whole, 4 Although it stands a bit apart from the tradition of American criticism that I am discussing, George Lukcss The Historical Novel also grants Cooper in an incredibly insightful reading. For Lukcs, Cooper is inferior to Walter Scott, but he still argues that Coopers greatest achievement lies his use of Natty Bumppo to demonstrate that the enormous historical tragedy of those early colonizers who emigrated from England in order to preserve their freedom, but who themselves destroy this freedom by their own deeds in America (65). 5 Marxs study was first accused of presentism by Bruce Kuklick in Myth and Symbol in American Studies. More recently, this charge has been reanimated by Jeffrey Louis Decker in Disassembling the Machine in the Garden: Antihumanism and the Critique of American-Studies. Even ecocriticism, the theoretical school that seems most prepared to investigate American literatures engagements with environmentalism, seems to have been stymied by just such accusations of presentism. Although ecocriticism has flourished since the mid-1990s, it has largely failed to engage the history of environmentalism. Texts that are central to ecocriticism, such as Cheryll Glotfeltys introduction to The Ecocriticism Reader and Lawrence Buells The Environmental Imagination: Thoreau, Nature Writing, and the Formation of American Culture readily admit environmentalist motivations, but tend to focus their attention on ecological science and its philosophical implications (holistic worldviews, metaphors of connectivity) as an interpretive frame rather than investigating the intricacies of the history of the environmental movement that could legitimize the environmentalist sentiments that they identify but struggle to confront in pre-environmentalist literature. In short, I feel that up to this point ecocriticism has largely operated from the popular and highly limited of idea of environmentalism as a movement with little history beyond the late twentieth century, which meshes fairly easily with the ahistorical modes of literary criticism that have dominated the latter half of the twentieth century. One notable exception to ecocriticisms tendency toward ahistorical and apolitical criticism is Buells second ecocritical work, Writing for an Endangered World: Literature, Culture, and Environment in the U.S. and Beyond, which is much more rooted in the nuances of the history of environmentalism.

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43 6 Kolodny is not the first scholar to discuss Coopers interest in conservation, but she is the one who sparks the backlash of the critics I will discuss in the next several paragraphs. For an earlier treatment of the issue, see E. Arthur Robinsons Conservation in Coopers The Pioneers. In the next several paragraphs I will discuss a protracted critical discussion between Annette Kolodny, Richard Godden, and Charles Swann, and I must give credit to Geoffrey Rans for first identifying the interplay between these texts in his Coopers Leather-Stocking Novels: A Secular Reading. Rans suggests that Godden and Swan effectively silence Kolodnys acceptance of Cooperand Marmaduke Templeas a conservationist figure, but through the rest of this essay I hope to revitalize Kolodnys initial assertion of Coopers environmentalism by suggesting a broader vision of environmentalisms history and by slightly shifting the historical context in which we usually read Cooper. 7 By the very theoretical rubric that she establishes at the beginning of her text, in which no form of environmentalism can play any part in any pre-contemporary text, Tichi prevents herself from finding anything but failure in Coopers skeptical view of the American project of environmental modification. In staging her argument, Tichi uses scenes from The Chainbearer and Wyandotte to argue that Cooper has no essential problem with the destruction of wilderness but that the central thrust of his engagement with national expansion concerned who would authorize the use of the American axe (172). Tichis use of The Chainbearer and Wyandotte to suggest that Cooper really supports the clearing of wilderness allows her to flatten out the environmental tensions of the Leatherstocking series and reduce any sense of environmental anxiety in these novels into a discussion of class. In a similar manner, she uses Coopers bitterly satirical description of apocalyptic environmental disaster in The Crater (1847) (in which a massive earthquake swallows up the entire nation and all of its agrarian improvements) to condemn all of his environmental criticism as ridiculous. In accusing Tichi of burying Coopers environmental anxieties in a discussion of class, I do not want to be misunderstood. My goal is not to merely replace her theoretical rubric with my own environmentally sympathetic approach. The real problem of Tichis argument is that it drastically reduces the environmental problems that Cooper engages in The Pioneers and the other novels of the Leatherstocking Series by transforming what is clearly a multivocal discussion of land ethics into a single narrative of cultural and political power that does not explain, as I will in the rest of this chapter, that the federalism of Cooper and Marmaduke Temple is significantly different from the earlier federalist discussions of the environment. 8 Of the recent historians of environmentalism, only Kirkpatrick Sale in The Green Revolution argues that late twentieth-century environmentalism possesses a moment of pure origin in the 1960s and 1970s. The question of every other historian is not whether or not environmentalism possesses a history but where its origins lie and how it is to be periodized. Some of the earliest historians of environmentalism, like Samuel P. Hays and Roderick Nash, recognized that late twentieth-century environmentalism had historical precedents but they emphasized its difference from the earlier conservationist and preservationist movements. William Cronon, Stephen Fox, Robert Gottlieb, and Jack Davis offer a slightly different interpretation of the history of environmentalism. They do

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44 not abandon periodization as entirely as Carolyn Merchant in The Death of Nature and Max Oelschlaeger in The Idea of Wilderness but they do emphasizes continuities between late twentieth-century environmentalism and earlier forms of environmentalist resistance. This mode of environmentalist historiography, which limits itself largely to the history of environmentalism in the United States, is perfectly comfortable extending the history of environmental crisis and corresponding forms of dissent to the colonial period, as Peter Shabecoff recognizes in the statement that I have already quoted. 9 In an effort to reduce any undue confusion, when I discuss William Cooper and James Fenimore Cooper in close proximity, I will refer to James as Fenimore Cooper. 10 Belknaps History of New Hampshire is a clear antecedent to Dwights History of New England and New YorkDwight refers to it repeatedly throughout his text. The fact that Cooper would have been familiar with his fathers A Guide in the Wilderness is rather obvious considering the paternal connection, but the fact that Coopers 1838 The Chronicles of Cooperstown, is a deliberate revision of his fathers Guide stands as further evidence of a sustained intellectual engagement with the earlier text. It is also easy to downplay Coopers engagement with Timothy Dwight. Cooper was quite young when he attended Yale Universityhe was admitted at the age of thirteen and he was expelled for mischief at sixteenand he publicly downplayed the impact of his formal education. During his presidency, however, Yale was in almost every way Dwights university, and it seems that it would have been impossible to attend the university during this period without coming into some sort of contact with him. He taught classes, preached sermons, and presided over public student disciplinary courts like the one that expelled Cooper from Yale after his junior year. Although we have no evidence that Cooper ever said or wrote anything about Dwight, he did strive to maintain contact with several of his Yale professors, particularly Benjamin Silliman, whose hiring was one of the most important events of Dwights tenure. The first volume of Parringtons Main Currents contains a concise overview of Timothy Dwight, but Robert Spillers Fenimore Cooper offers the best description of Dwights Yale and Coopers engagement with it. Spiller discusses Coopers relationship with Silliman, but the best evidence of the relationship are the Coopers letters to the professor, which have been collected in The Letters and Journals of James Fenimore Cooper, edited by James Franklin Beard. 11 For a detailed examination of how this particular type of elevated, panoramic gaze became commonplace in late eighteenth and early nineteenth-century American culture, see Donald A. Ringes The Pictorial Mode: Space and Time in the Art of Bryant, Irving, and Cooper. 12 Belknap believes that deforestation will have a beneficial moderating effect on the climate. It is worth nothing, I believe, that Belknap is so far from condemning the clearing of forested land that he spends a great deal of the third book of his History describing the methods of clearing land and recommending the most efficient techniques. The rural economy promoted by Belknap combines the particularly American problem of clearing forested land and draining bogs with established practices of European

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45 agriculture like enriching fertilizing cultivated fields with animal manure and planting grass in old fields to restore their fertility. 13 As Swann and Rans both recognize, the fishing laws that Judge Temple has procured from the legislature allow fishing when the fish of Lake Otsego are spawning, which is actually when fishing causes the worst ecological damage. 14 Natural history is not the only science that Cooper critiques. He also places the science of surveying in the vanguard of American expansionism in The Prairie and The Deerslayer before devoting an entire novel to it in The Chainbearer. I am not treating surveying at any great length, however, because natural science seems to be the most invisible and invasive science in the North American continent that Cooper imagines in the Leatherstocking Series.

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CHAPTER 3 THE INSTITUTION OF EMERSONIAN ENVIRONMENTAL IMPERIALISM While the American critical institution dismissed Cooper as a writer who had . all the qualifications for a great American writer except the simple ability to write, it formed a new American canon rooted in a modernist aesthetic and the authors, like Emerson, Thoreau and Whitman, who anticipated it (Fiedler 191). For those like Santayana and Brooks who helped establish this ethic and form and national canon around it, it was Emersonnot Cooper or Longfellow, who had both established their cultural capital in terms of popularity and commercial successwho marked the emergence of a legitimate American literature. In Emerson, for instance, Santayana found a truly unique philosopher of nature, an author who found nature all beauty and commodity, who while operating on it laboriously, and drawing quick returns . began to drink in inspiration from it aesthetically (42). Continuing Santayanas appreciation, Brooks regarded Emerson as a follower of Jonathan Edwardss Puritan traditionpuritanism before it became corrupted, in Brookss formulationat whose death something in the American mind really did come to an end (COA 39). For Santayana and Brooks, and for F. O. Matthiessen who would continue this argument several decades later in his American Renaissance, Emerson is most important because he laid the groundwork for the achievement of Walt Whitman. In Brookss words, Emerson provided a skeleton outline . in black and white that Whitman filled in with color and set in three dimensions (COA 119). 1 46

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47 Scholarship up until this point has simply not admitted that the definition of the natural world Emerson presents in Naturehis first and most enduring treatise on the subjectdoes not arise ex nihilo so much as it abstracts, masculinizes, and depoliticizes existing notions of natural space to create a vision of nature that serves the purposes of the ahistorical and apolitical aesthetic program that Twain launched in his famous 1895 critique of Cooper. The reconfiguration of natural space that Emerson accomplishes in Nature renders a traditionally terrestrial, tactile, female gendered, and immanently destructible spacethe type of natural space that operates in the work of Cooper and Longfellow, whose treatment of nature I will discuss in Chapter 3into an abstract and masculine intellectual field that contains female nature in the drastically different form of disembodied, indestructible, and perpetually available essences that Emerson frequently ties to astronomical signifiers. Emersons re-theorization of nature offers, in other words, a logic of imperial environmental domination that denies any notion of environmental limitation or destructibility as it evades the central moral and representational crises inherent to the destruction of what is always regarded as a female space: the rape of a virgin nature, mother nature, or (perhaps the most frightening possibility) a simultaneously pure and generative virgin mother nature. 2 Emersons imperialist theorization of an abstract nature is important for what it accomplishes in its own right, but also for the particular impact that it has had on American letters since shortly after its publication in 1833. As I will argue in the latter portions of this chapter, shortly after Emerson theorized a way to imagine nature masculine, illimitable, and indestructible, Henry David Thoreau would offer a praxis to Emersons environmental abstraction by suggesting that an imperialist quest for pure

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48 wilderness is a legitimate method of preserving masculinity. And as I will argue in the final chapters of Looking Away, Emersons idea of naturebacked as it was by the literary, critical, and cultural institutionswould offer environmentally attuned twentieth-century authors like Willa Cather, John Steinbeck, and Ernest Hemingway a very powerful method of mediating the cultural and psychic loss that attend American expansionsisms environmental toll. 3 Emerson, Gender, and Natures Gender The lives of James Fenimore Cooper and Ralph Waldo Emerson intersected at odd points. In the 1840s, for instance, they both had dealings with Horace Greeley: Cooper won a libel suit against him and was awarded a judgement of two hundred dollars in 1842 while Greeley and his New York Times were simultaneously declaring Emerson the most important and original mind of his generation (Teichgraeber 202). 4 As this detail demonstrates, however, such points of intersection often constitute points of drastic personal, political, and critical divergence, and no such point of divergence is more central to the lives and work of these men than the relationships that they cultivated with female intellectuals, female audiences, and, ultimately, a natural world that was always gendered female in the first half of the nineteenth century. Cooper, after all, did indeed write his first bookto Fiedlers horrorin a deliberate attempt to outwrite a female British writer, and he consistently oriented his work, without any sense of shame (and tremendous commercial success), toward a popular audience that included a daunting number of moderately educated women. 5 Beyond the issue of audience, though, Cooper consistently genders natural space female and does very little to mediate the implications of sexual crime that attend its destruction, and he consistently values womens responses to nature. Only his female characters, like The Pathfinders Mabel Dunham, after all, can

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49 discuss the natural world outside of the language of ownership and domination that even Natty Bumppo cannot escape, and he found his daughters volume of nature writing, Rural Hours, a throughly feminine and therefore highly marketable response to the natural world. 6 Emersons relationship with women and nearly all things feminine moved in quite a different direction. As numerous scholars have argued, Emerson conflated femininity with nature, devalued them both, and deconstructed the legacy of his one-time confidant, Margaret Fuller, who had offered counter-interpretations of nature, femininity, and female nature before her early death in 1850. 7 Emerson, Stephanie Smith recognizes, asserts in Nature but believed throughout his lifetime that Truth in Art is a purely abstract and therefore masculine production that cannot be produced by a concrete or material maternal nature he understands to be vital but ultimately ancillary to man (69). Emersons entire philosophical project, in Smiths language, metaphorized the material maternal as that which, through the alembic of spirit, would be abolished; his objectiveparticularly in Natureis to consign matter, which he repeatedly associates with the past and the natural and hence with the mother, to a discardable memory that may be overcome through the future-oriented potency of individual mind (77). Margaret Fuller, with whom Emerson was incredibly intimate for a time, offered a thorough counter-narrative to Emersons hyper-masculine drive toward abstraction and the devaluation of the feminineincluding female nature. As Smith also understands, for Fuller, Truth was best figured by the body of a nursing woman; she repeatedly expressed a desire to salvage the material and represent Mother Nature not simply as a frame for man, nor as blind form waiting to be seen, but as a creative force with a vision

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50 of her own (69, 70). Despite the fact that Fuller was Emersons intellectual equal, Emerson refused to take her arguments seriouslyhe even claimed that she did not make senseand shortly after her death he subjected Fullers legacy to dual forms of erasure: he deconstructed her significance privately in his journal and publicly through his deeply flawed editing of her Memoirs (Berkson 25). 8 In an attempt to explain Emersons fundamental disconnect from Fuller, Lindsey Traub suggests that Woman Thinking may simply have been inconceivable to him (288). Emersons inability to conceive of Fuller, however, is less a case of simple nineteenth century gender prejudice than it is a studied replication of the approach to the female that Emerson found in natural science. In 1827, in The Prairie, James Fenimore Cooper placed natural science in the vanguard of a destructive United States expansionism; for Emerson, however, the science was a messianic force capable of wedding the visible to the invisible, and the impact that the science had on him in 1833 at the Paris Musum dHistoire Naturelle was so strong that he proclaimed that he would become a naturalist. Emersons interest in natural science has intrigued scholars because it holds a key to how and why Emerson wrote. 9 He wrote as a scientist and he equated his own organization of thought and language with the organizing and classifying work of natural scientists. I wish to suggest, however, that natural science bears cultural and ideological significance to Emersons body of work outside of its usefulness as a hermeneutic tool. Natural science was based on an intellectual commitment to classifying and ordering a female nature, and it was politically inseparable from imperialist enterprise. It offered Emerson the hyper-masculinist and imperialist philosophical system that would

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51 ultimately manifest itself in Nature as he defines the natural world away from femininity and destructibility and toward an illimitable, permanent, and perpetually available field that serves the ideological ends of empire. The natural science that Emerson encountered at the Musum dHistoire Naturelle was, in the words of Lee Rust Brown, one of the Old Worlds most complex and capable means of coming to adequate terms with the outlandishness of the New, which Europe was uncovering, of course, through exploration and colonization. And the methodology of natural science consisted of selecting, eviscerating, and hollowing out objects belonging to visible nature (the form of nature always gendered female) into abstract (and therefore masculine and more valuable) intellectual horizons (97). At the Paris Musum that had such a life-shaking impact on Emerson, natural science had achieved a severe aesthetic fulfilled in . sequences of glass-doored armoires lining the . galleries and . .in the subordinated, pagelike surfaces of the formal gardens where all nature . yielded itself to the conceptual graphics of outline, series, and hierarchy (65). It was a place where feminine nature, including raw materials and exotic specimens procured from the New World through the actions of empire, was splayed out, pinned down, stuffed, mapped, and classed; a place where the staunchly anti-feminine Enlightenment science of those like Francis Bacon found its most perfect embodiment. 10 Emerson admired the Paris Musum because it wedded the physical and the abstract, but it was also a site of the aggressive-defensive activity of empire: it fused the gender politics of the Enlightenment with European imperialism while helping create the image of the naturalist that Emerson ultimately became for American literature and

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52 culturethe bourgeois subject simultaneously innocent and imperial, asserting a harmless hegemonic vision that instills no apparatus of domination (Pratt 34). The Nature of Emersons Imperialism Recognizing that Emerson was thoroughly committed, in a sense even wedded to this innocent and imperial science, it is less surprising that he ultimately rejects such an unclassifiable trouser-wearing and intellectual unwomanly woman as Margaret Fuller, just as it is less surprising, to return to Smiths language, that his philosophical project in Nature and throughout the rest of his career consigns feminine and/or maternal matter to a discardable memory (Berkson 25, Smith 77). Emersons rejection of the feminine, which I find to be made possible by his investment in natural science and made manifest in his treatment of Margaret Fuller, plays a significant role in the thorough redefinition of nature that he accomplishes in Nature. 11 Numerous scholars have recognized that Emerson, in Nature and in his other writings, legitimized the development of U. S. industrial capitalism and imperialism through what Jenine Abboushi Dallal has described as disembodied discourse and rhetorical circumvention (50). 12 The imperial project of Emersons Nature, where it concerns the actual environment itself, though, involves neutralizing the economic, moral, and gender crises that were already understood to attend environmental destruction by the early nineteenth century and to therefore facilitate the continuation of United States expansionism regardless of its real human and environmental costs. In Nature, which would achieve canonical status as his fame grew throughout the course of the nineteenth century, Emerson completely reconfigures the meaning of nature in a way that ignores the environmental anxieties that slip into texts as early as Jeremy Belknaps The History of New Hampshire and Coopers Leatherstocking series.

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53 Emersons act of redefinition offers American literature and culture a mode of circumventing any awareness of, or any sense of guilt over, the destruction of natural space, and it accomplishes this by totally abandoning the commonplace functional definition of nature as a physical, terrestrial, and feminine space in favor of a Nature that is a disembodied, abstract, and masculine space composed of essential qualities locatable anywhere but often in an astronomical realm that is always available and always located beyond the reach of destructive human agency. The re-theorization of the natural world that Emerson launches in Nature is, to some degree, a function of his own personal development and his own prejudicesit clearly bears the marks of his feelings on gender, for instance, but it is also a significant political engagement into the nineteenth century politics of environmental vision. Emersons intervention into how nature should be understood amounts to a deliberate hedge against narratives of environmental scarcity, fragility, and destructibility that were gaining currency throughout the nineteenth century. He begins his refutation of these narratives by identifying a way to recover environmental purity and by reasserting claims of human environmental benignity that were already beginning to appear dubious by the 1830s. In the final paragraph of Natures introduction, Emerson offers these two fundamental claims that are couched in a differentiation that he draws between art and nature: Nature, in the common sense, refers to essences unchanged by man; space, the air, the river, the leaf. Art is applied to the mixture of his will with the same things, as in a house, a canal, a statue, a picture. But his operations taken together are so insignificant, a little chipping, baking, patching, and washing, that in an impression so grand as of the world on the human mind, they do not vary the result (8).

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54 In these three sentences, Emerson establishes a logic of environmental abstraction that runs throughout the rest of his essay. He recovers a natural world that is not only unchanged by man but absolutely unchangeable because it is no longer defined by its tactile, physical, or material qualitiesthe qualities associated with femininity. Nature is defined, rather, by its abstract and therefore masculine essences that endure despite whatever chipping, baking, patching, and washing may be performed on its feminine, material, and mortal body. Within this frame, the actual health and/or perpetuity of the feminine material nature is not so important as the endurance of the impression or essence that the feminine/material signifier makes on the human mind. It is a sweeping set of claims that privileges disembodied, abstract, masculine, and indestructible essences over the material, feminine, and destroyable body of nature that locates environmental health in, of all places, the human mind. With verbs like chipping, baking, patching, and washing that largely evoke female domestic work, Emerson feminizes and dismisses the environmental activity of what he ordinarily believes to be a masculine culture. The phrase inverts the gender of a penetrative male American culture so that the cultures environmental interventions can be cast as thoroughly nonthreatening female work upon a female body. Read against the rest of Nature, though, the gender inversion that Emerson performs here is simply disingenuous. Emerson might recognize American masculinity as threatened, but it still exists, and it needs to continue to exist, in Emersons formulation, so that American men can reassert their masculinities by penetrating itnot washing or patching it. Men, and particularly men in the streets of cities, need nature to help them believe and adore a thoroughly masculine Christian God (8, 9). It is so needful to

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55 man, he continues, that it is a healing commodity capable of restoring mind, body, masculinity and sense of self: To the body and mind which have been cramped by noxious work or company, nature is medicinal and restores their tone. The tradesman, the attorney comes out of the din and craft of the street and sees the sky and the woods, and is a man again. In their eternal calm, he finds himself. (13) In the shorter Nature that he included in his 1844 Essays, Second Series, Emerson makes it even clearer than it is in Nature that this restorative meeting between men (and, as always, particularly with city men) and nature is an act of penetration, not chipping, baking, patching, and washing. In this essay, nature is again explicitly medicinal, particularly for men threatened by cities that give not the human senses room enough, but regeneration is available at the gates of the forest (312, 311). Here, Emerson writes, the city man . is forced to leave his city estimates of great and small, wise and foolish. The knapsack of custom falls off his back as he penetrate[s] bodily this incredible beauty before regaining a state after penetration that is not only embryonic but parasitic: we nestle in nature, and draw our living as parasites from her roots and grains, and we receive glances from the heavenly bodies, which call us to solitude (311, 313, 312, emphasis added). Emersons theory of nature is at conflict with itself. The gender categories upon which it is based slip and slide depending upon the argument Emerson needs to make, but Emersons argument in Nature faces two critical obstacles outside of its own logic: first, how can faith in natures medicinal, curative capabilities be maintained in the face of growing concerns about its destructibility or exhaustibility, and, secondly, how can an increasingly urbanized population maintain contact with the type of space that restores its atrophied masculinity? One half of Emersons response to this problem is, as I have

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56 already argued, to create an abstract and disembodied idea of nature that evades the threatened status of material nature. The other side of Emersons project, however, is to revise the national environmental gaze by replacing a Cooper-eque gaze that necessarily encounters tree stumps and threatened species with a metonymic one that locates environmental health and perpetuity in exceptional specimens and celestial objects that lie beyond the reach of human activity. Emerson creates this new method of seeing the natural world in the same moments that he champions natures ability to salvage a threatened masculinity. When, in Nature, Emerson confronts the problem of the man in the streets of cities, he does not find it absolutely necessary that the man, with his masculinity collapsing under the weight of an urban crush, drop his knapsack at the gates of the forest and regain himself in the tempered light of the woods, which is one way that he suggests masculinity may be regained in his later Nature (Nature 8, Nature 311). His primary move, much to the contrary, is to simply elevate his environmental gaze so that he literally looks over the problems that threaten terrestrial natureit is a visual move that mirrors what Dallal has described as a widening of the lens that displaces imperialist conquest, violence, and deathand locates the essential qualities of nature in absolutely indestructible and immaterial astronomical bodies (49). Throughout Nature, Emerson locates nature in woods, horizons, sunrises and sunsets, and the sky in general, and he claims that all natural objects make a kindred impression, when the mind is open to their influence (9). Over the course of the essay, however, stars emerge as especially effective signifiers of nature. Nature and all of its medicinal qualities may be found, Emerson writes, by simply look[ing] at the stars (8).

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57 The mere visual presence of stars, according to Emerson, grants solitude; the rays that they emanate separate between him and vulgar things; and they offer the perpetual presence of the sublime (8). If . stars should appear one night in a thousand years, Emerson continues, how men would believe and adore; and preserve for many generations the remembrance of the city of God which had been shown! (8). They are envoys of beauty that light the universe with their admonishing smile and, perhaps most important, they awaken a certain reverence, because though always present, they are always inaccessible (9). By creating an environmental gaze that is fixed on astronomical space, Emerson finds a way to see everything that he wants to see in nature. This particular gaze presents a natural world that is uncontained, immortal, always present, and always inaccessible; entirely beyond the impact of any destructive human agency. With this environmental gaze, Emerson consolidates the qualities that he associates with the natural world into stars, which function in the essay as discrete and ultimate metonyms for all that his vision of nature encompasses, and he protects this move toward an abstract metonymic nature by suggesting again that the actual presence and viability of natures material phenomena are not so important as the disembodied impression of presence and viability that they offer the human mind. In the rhetoric of current critical discourse, Emerson creates a situation in which the continued existence of a signifier of natural health and perpetuity is dispensable so long as the signification of natural health and perpetuity endures.

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58 The Consequences and Endurance of Emersonian Nature The process of abstraction that Emerson carries out in these passageswith its consolidation of meaning and its transformation of the physical and feminine into the masculine and symbolicis one that leads, as Henri Lefebvre has theorized, to the absolute erasure of the natural world. Emersons involvement in this process, moreover, is critically important to the formation of the spatial experience and practice of nature in the United States for two interconnected reasons: the peculiar power of narrative to shape spatial experience and practice, and the immediate and enduring influence of Emerson in numerous fields including literary and cultural production. Considering the sustained cultural and institutional power that Emerson has been granted throughout the past 150 years, his theory of abstract natural space has been central to the development of a largely unconsscious national politics of environmental evasion that developed with particular intensity throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In The Production of Space, Henri Lefebvre writes that everyone wants to protect and save nature; nobody wants to stand in the way of an attempt to retrieve its authenticity. Yet at the same time everything conspires to harm it. The fact is that natural space will soon be lost to view. . nature is resistant, and infinite in its depth, but it has been defeated, and now waits only for its ultimate voidance and destruction (3031). Lefebvre blames this situation on capitalism and neocapitalism, but he does not attribute the destruction of natural space to the march of technological industrialism (53). The exploitative power of capitalism resides, rather, in processes of abstractionlike Emersonsthat Lefebvre believes to begin with the transformation of natural space into systems of signs and symbols.

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59 For Lefebvre, abstract space does not occur outside of state or otherwise institutional power; As a product of violence and war, he writes, abstract space is political; instituted by a state, it is institutional, and it is created, in large part, through the deployment of institutionally sanctioned signs and symbols (285). Just as there is a violence intrinsic to abstraction, and to abstractions practical (social) use, moreover, signs and symbols have something lethal about them (288). Any space infused with value by a symbol, Lefebvre remarks, is also a reducedand homogenizedspaceit is removed from the realms of physicality and history as it is rendered abstract (289). Emerson immediately reduces and homogenizes space at the opening of Nature when he invokes community knowledge to claim that Nature, in the common sense, refers to essences unchanged by man (8). Such a claim denies the fact that nature was a site of contention in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, and it neutralizes the voices of those like James Fenimore Cooper who might have replied that a definition of nature based on a claim of environmental purity was already deeply flawed. Emersons most important and most lasting act of environmental violence, though, lies in the symbol-making project that he follows throughout the essay. When Emerson argues that an essential naturethe type of nature that he really valuescan be found at any time and at any place by looking toward the heavens, he removes the power of signification from earthly natural space and thoroughly reduces its value. Through Emersons process of environmental abstraction, terrestrial, material, and feminine natural space undergoes the very voidance that Lefebvre suggestsit becomes fundamentally emptied of meaning and value as it is emptied of the essences that Emerson privileges. As Donald Pease recognizes, Emersons process of symbolization empties objective Nature of all

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60 meaning and brings it to an end so that any appreciation of natures beauty requires a taste for the beauty of the morbid (53, 52). As helpful as I believe his work is in uncovering the method and results of Emersons abstraction of natural space, Lefebvre cannot explain the special importance of Emersons role in shaping spatial practice in the United States, which I believe lies at the nexus of narratives unique spatial agency and Emersons celebrity status. Although Lefebvre seems to imply it (particularly when he discusses the destructive power of signs and symbols), he does not spell out, as Michel de Certeau does in The Practice of Everyday Life, that narratives are a particularly powerful agent in the formation and modification of spatial practices. As he works to differentiate between place, which he defines as a static configuration of subjects and objects, and space, which he defines as a the dynamic intersection of mobile elements, de Certeau argues that narratives perform a function that constantly transforms places into spaces or spaces into places (117, 118). Narratives, according to de Certeau, are culturally creative act[s] that found spaces just as they register the loss of space where stories are disappearing (123). 13 In surprising fashion, the act of spatial abstraction that Emerson carries out in Nature inverts and darkens de Certeaus claims. Emersons culturally creative act founds an abstract space that philosophically effacesand justifies the actual destruction ofa physically defined space upon which (as Lefebvre recognizes) cultures themselves are constructed. This narrative of spatial abstraction possesses a measure of inherent spatial agency, but this agency is tremendously amplified by the enormity of Emersons celebrity, which is so powerful and so carefully guarded that it approximates the type of

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61 institutional or state power that Lefebvre associates with all processes of spatial abstraction. Emerson cultivated his own celebrity during his lifetime, by the time of his death he had become an icon of American-ness, and in the twentieth century his influence infiltrated fields as diverse as American politics, economics, architecture, and music as his literary-critical reputation underwent successive renewals that prevented him from ever slipping into a period of Melvillian obscurity. 14 Whenever Emerson has come under critical assault, his centrality to American culture has remained unquestionable. Whether his influence is regarded as positive or negative, it is impossible, it seems, to step outside of a series of assumptions that Harold Bloom reaffirms in his often reprinted Mr. America: Emerson is the mind of our climate, the principal source of the American difference in poetry, criticism and pragmatic post-philosophy. . Emerson, by no means the greatest American writer . is the inescapable theorist of all subsequent American writing. From his moment to ours, American authors either are in his tradition, or else in a counter-tradition originating in opposition to him. (section I, emphasis added). Blooms comments leave no room for a plurality of American mind, experience, or expression, butand this is a discomfiting facteven critics who work against the grain of affirmative Emersonian criticism accept a similar vision of Emersons cultural centrality. In an age that aims to question hegemony, this appears to be one of the most undebatable phenomenon in American literary and cultural history. The only remaining line of inquiry for Emerson criticism is whether this representative American is to be regarded as the source of cultural success or cultural failure; whether the consequences of his influence are a radical form of selfhood and a tradition of literary exceptionality that flows through Thoreau and Whitman, or a logic of colonialism, imperialism, and

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62 environmental destruction that has produced war, the subjugation of numerous subaltern populations, and the erasure of natural space on a global scale. Harold Blooms 1982 defense of Emerson is a direct and acknowledged response to the claim of Bartlett Giamatti, in his1981 Yale baccalaureate address, that it is Emerson who freed our politics and our politicians from any sense of restraint by extolling self-generated, unaffiliated power as the best foot to place in the small of the back of the man in front of you (101). In less direct ways, Blooms essay also rejects Donald Peases 1980 Emerson, Nature, and the Sovereignty of Influence, which introduced Emerson to deconstructive theory. Although he never names him in the essay, Peases deconstructive method is precisely what Bloom attacks when he jeers at the European modes [of interpretation] . currently touching their nadir in a younger rabblement celebrating itself as having repudiated the very idea of an individual reader or an individual critic, and the Marxist literary groups and Lacanian theory circles that he believes to have generated such cockeyed criticism (Mr. America section III). This debate between Bloom, Giamatti, and Pease has been kept alive throughout the 1980s and 1990s in a series of essay collections that sharply defend the institution of positive Emersonianism. Since Blooms initial reaffirmation of Emersons cultural centrality, Bloom himself, Lawrence Buell, and Joel Porte and Saundra Morris have published collections of Emerson criticism that maintain his positive institutional status against what they clearly understand to be the rising threat of revisionist scholarship in the vein of Giamatti and Pease. 15 Blooms Mr. America has been republished three times under the title Emerson: Power at the Crossingin a collection of his own essays, in the collection of Emerson criticism that he collected, and in Buells collection of

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63 Emerson scholarshipand where it is not reprinted Porte and Morris repackage his defense in their own words. Although Giamattis essay is mentioned in Blooms response and in Porte and Morriss introduction, neither it nor Peases essay, nor any of the later criticism that has carried their project forward is included in any of these collectionseven in their (highly) selective bibliographies of Emerson scholarship. Responses to such re-interpretive work range, in these collections, from silent omission in Buells volume (where only Blooms reprinted essay performs any critique of the course of Emerson scholarship) to an outright assault from Porte, whose editorial introduction undercuts postcolonial interpretations of Emersons legacy without ever even speaking the names of the scholars who have posed these arguments. 16 Despite such strong commitments to preserving his status as a positive cultural icon, the body of Emersons work and the uses to which it has been put contain a powerful, if often painful and nearly unspeakable dark side that legitimizes, to return to Lefebvres language, multiple forms of violence and war. Emersons abstraction of natural space, without doubt, is an essential part of this dark heritage. It fulfilled the desires of the merchant class audiences that Emerson encountered on his speaking tours in the nineteenth century, and, as I will discuss in later chapters of Looking Away, it met the needs of a twentieth century American culture that had to cope with the constant erasure of natural spaces that it relied upon for claims of national exceptionality, for the expression of an autonomous selfhood, and for the construction and maintenance of masculinity. 17 As natural space consistently fell under the thrall of twentieth century progress, Emersonian abstraction offered a way of maintaining natures transcendental availability and permanence just as Emersons elevated and metonymic environmental

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64 gaze offered convenient and established methods of looking away from unsettling terrestrial situations. Thoreau and the Continuation of Emersons Abstract Spatial Imperialism While I obviously believe that Emersons abstract, astronomically oriented environmental vision is the one that was adopted by mainstream American culture until the environmental awakening of the late twentieth century, other critics have ignored or devalued Emerson to promote Thoreau as the real locus of significant nineteenth-century environmental thought. 18 For scholars like Max Oelschlaeger in The Idea of Wilderness and Lawrence Buell in The Environmental Imagination, who are both interested in tracing the roots of environmentalist and ecological thought, Thoreau is an environmental hero because his writing is less anthropocentric than Emersons, because he is more interested in strict environmental observation than Emerson, and because his ephasis on environmental wholeness is more well defined than Emersons. In a move that illustrates the new hegeomony of ecocritical praise that has sprung up around Thoreau, Oelschlaeger literally proclaims Thoreaus environmental sainthood in Environment and the 21 st Century: A Thoreauvian Interlude that proclaims Thoreau St. Henry (13). 19 Despite such rhetorical excesses, critical work in the mode of Buell and Oelschlaeger has performed the necessary tasks of expanding the history of environmentalism and connecting it with literary history. Still, however, it has largely ignored the uglier and more embarrassing aspects of Thoreaus treatment of the natural world. Even while scholars like Andrew McMurry and James McKusick have worked against the grain to reinstate Emerson as the central figure of environmental thought in American literature, only Ira Brooker, Paul Giles, and Karl Kroeber have extended any

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65 sort of postcolonialist critique into Thoreaus work or suggested that the entire Emersonian-Thoreauvian tradition of environmental writing overwrites or obscures alternative traditions. Writing against the cult of St. Henry, Brooker suggests that Thoreau imperializes Walden pond by converting it into an intellectual commodity that he sold to the masses as a wilderness lifestyle and sensibility, while Giles recognizes such patterns of intellectual commodification as part of an overarching tendency in Thoreaus writing to to sublimate historical and political conflicts into a narrative conflating nation with nature that, when Thoreaus attention turns to the natural world, amounts to a continuation of Emersons imperialist environmental vision (Giles 69). To Brooker and Giles, Kroeber adds that the Thoreaus institutional power obscures an un-Thoreauvian tradition of nature writing, made up of authors like William Bartram, Susan Fenimore Cooper, Aldo Leopold, and Rachel Carson, that is more scientifically oriented, more scientific in mode, and more focused on long-term, noncyclic natural changes (313). In Walden, upon which his sainthood has been constructed more than any other text, Thoreau, like Emerson, finds natural space absolutely critical to the maintenance of masculinity, but he cannot maintain his faith in natures regenerative capacityas Emerson doesby merely restricting his environmental gaze. Thoreau, rather, keeps the faith alive by adopting an imperialist perspective of global environmental availability. In Walden, which in one sense is all about his own personal need to experience the natural world, Thoreau argues that our village life would stagnate if it were not for the unexplored forests and meadows which surround it. We need the tonic of wilderness . we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be infinitely wild . we must be refreshed by the sight of inexhaustible vigor, vast and titanic features . of Nature. (298)

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66 Almost everything that Thoreau identifies as fundamentally important in this passageunexplored forests and meadows, even wilderness itselfis either an object of Euro-American fantasy or, by the middle of the nineteenth century, deeply threatened. His own simulacral wilderness at Walden Pond, after all, bore the scars of settlement. To keep the revitalizing presence of wilderness alive, however, Thoreau poses two divergent arguments: locate wilderness in the self, and find wilderness in the corners of the globe where it has not been entirely effaced. In Walden, Thoreau argues that the Emersonian inquest is the best method of experiencing wilderness in an age of environmental destruction. In typically epigrammatic fashion, Thoreau writes, One hastens to southern Africa to chase the giraffe; but surely that is not the game he would be after. How long, pray, would a man hunt giraffes if he could? Snipes and woodcocks also may afford rare sport; but I trust it would be nobler game to shoot ones self (300). As he advocates this turn into the self, however, Thoreau calls upon the language of imperialism. Be rather the Mungo Park, the Lewis and Clark and Frobisher, of your own streams and oceans; explore your own higher latitudes, he commands, be a Columbus to whole new continents and worlds within you, opening new channels, not of trade, but of thought (300). Despite all the emphasis that Thoreau places upon exploring interior wildernesses, his entire discussion is rife with exotic locations (Tierra del Fuego, Africa, China, Japan) and the explorers, like Mungo Park, who opened them to the West. At the very least, the presence of these places and explorers underscores the fact that imperialism was a very real force in Thoreaus world. In Walden imperialism offers a secondary but still powerful avenue of nature experience that is entirely different from the inquest that

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67 Thoreau simultaneously promotes. Explorers and exploration usually appear in Walden as metaphors for this inquest, but Thoreau confesses that actual colonialist adventuring is a real and viable way to come into contact with a curative nature. It is not worth the while to go round the world to count the cats in Zanzibar, he writes, Yet do this even till you can do better, and you may perhaps find some Symmes Hole by which to get at the inside at last (302 emphasis added). On his way to discussing exotic manifestations of wilderness in Waldens Conclusion, Thoreau mentions the wilds of Canada, Ohio, Colorado, and the Yellowstone, but the trajectory of his narrative moves without hesitation toward Tierra del Fuego and the other extra-continental locations that offer purer wildernesses. Walden itself does not explain why Thoreau would overshoot the American West as he maps the globes wildest regions, but eight years later, in Walking (1862), Thoreau hints that he has consigned natural space in North America to obliteration. In almost the same breath, he touts wildness, wilderness, and fertile soil as the primary sources of national power, he praises more explorers, and he glorifies the regions they have penetrated, and he unequivocally endorses the logic of imperialism. Thoreau never explicitly discusses the fate of nature on a national or continental scale, but his comments upon New England land use contain a sense of environmental anxiety that is as representative and expansive as it is particular. He writes, for instance, that A hundred years ago they sold bark in our streets peeled from our own woods. In the very aspect of those primitive and rugged trees there was, methinks, a tanning principle which hardened and consolidated the fibres of mens thoughts. Ah! Already I shudder for these comparably degenerate days of my native village, when you cannot collect a load of bark of good thickness, and we no longer produce tar and turpentine. (648)

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68 In typical fashion, Thoreau associates environmental health with intellectual health, but his concern with the state of the New England mind should not obscure the fact that he clearly understands the natural environment of New England as degenerate[d] in its own right. The state of environmental degeneration, though, is not the whole story for Thoreau. It is equally disturbing for him, I believe, that the entire situation is taken as a matter of course. When he returns to the topic of ecological degeneration later in the essay, he writes that We are accustomed to say in New England that few and fewer pigeons visit us every year. Our forests furnish no mast for them . . and there is scarcely a twig left for them to perch on (660). In my reading at least, the most compelling element of this passage is its opening, which centers the entire anecdote around the communitys response to the disappearance of the pigeons. The objective of the passage, it seems, is not to simply relate an ecological fact but to register the communitys apathy. The disappearance of the pigeons is merely a custom that has woven itself into the fabric of the community, and the way that Thoreau treats this communal indifference suggests that he understands this attitude as the problem facing nature in North America. It is this combination of environmental destruction and communal apathy, I believe, that causes Thoreau to concede the ultimate destruction of wild nature in North America. Even though Thoreau seems to acquiesce to the destruction of North American nature, he does not so easily abandon the project of American empire that he understands to depend upon close contact between nation and nature. In Walking, all of Thoreaus examples of national strength simultaneously signify imperial strengthGreece, Rome,

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69 England, and he argues that all such enduring empires have been sustained by the primitive forests which anciently rotted where they stand. They survive as long as the soil is not exhausted (648). Thoreau is suggesting, of course, that national and imperial strength are constructed with very real natural resources, but he also believes that state power depends upon a wild source of a vitality that resides in the nations soil and forests (644). With this combined awareness of a compromised North American natural environment and his sense that nations derive their strength from contact with wild nature, Thoreau faces a critical problem: if the destructive and apathetic culture of the United States destroys the vitality of its environment, how will the nation maintain its strength? As he does in Walden, Thoreau offers two alternatives: inquest or imperialism. In the case of Walking, the inquest involves finding wilderness where you are. For Thoreau in Walden and Walking, every swamp, bog, and patch of woods, in the right frame of mind, can become a revitalizing wilderness. Life itself, he argues, can be viewed as a wildness that refreshes (Walking 646). One who pressed forward incessantly and never rested from his labors, who grew fast and made infinite demands on life, he writes, would always find himself in a new country or wilderness, and surrounded by the raw material of life (646). Amid such transcendental arguments, though, lurk subaltern figures and newly colonized regions that offer the promise of contact with real, rather than imagined, wild natureregions and figures, incidentally, that play no part at all in any of the traditional discussions of Thoreaus work. They raise questions with ugly answers, but they are there in the text nonetheless: Thoreau mentions the Hottentots and our Northern

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70 Indians, as well as the archetypal figures of the African and a Tahitian (644). Just as One who pressed forward incessantly and never rested from his labors, might generate his own regenerative wildness, it seems that in Thoreaus vision one could just as easily find fulfilment (and probably better fulfillment at that) by following the path of the African hunter Cummings, whose clothes even bear the odor of close contact with a revivifying wilderness (646, 644). Every explorer, exotic location, or subjugated population that Thoreau mentions can be dismissed as a metaphor for introspective searching, but these places and figures exist in his work alongside a tacit acceptance of a particularly American colonialist logic that makes any such dismissal much more difficult. In a statement that legitimizes, if it does not endorse, the imperialist quest for contact with soil and wilderness, he writes that It is said to be the task of the American to work the virgin soil, and that agriculture here already assumes proportions unknown everywhere else. I think that the farmer displaces the Indian even because he redeems the meadow, and so makes himself stronger and in some respects more natural (648, emphasis added). It can be argued in his defense that Thoreau promotes non-imperialist methods as the first and best ways to maintain contact with wild nature (however it is construed), but his allusion to the displacement of Native Americans unequivocally endorses the logic of imperialism that stalks Walden and Walking in the specters of Cummings, Park, Africa, and Tahiti. For all of the attention they grant the natural world, for all of their perceptions of ecological wholeness, and for all of their efforts to reconcile the Cartesian binary of the human and the natural, the environmental legacy of Emerson and Thoreau contains an

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71 undeniable dark underside that works against the very forms of space that they each seem to privilege. Their abstraction and dislocation of natural space offered philosophical and artistic legitimacy to the environmentally destructive practices of American culture at large just as they established precedents of environmental evasion that would shape the twentieth century literary response to environmental degradation. As I will argue in the rest of this project, the institutionalization of Emersonian environmental imperialism obscured less destructive methods of nineteenth and twentieth century literary environmental engagement. It devalued Henry Wadsworth Longfellows environmentally determined vision of United States national literature, it offered institutionally endorsed patterns of looking away from environmental destruction that would help authors like Willa Cather, John Steinbeck, and Ernest Hemingway maintain faith in a completely viable natural world well into the twentieth century, and it silently disqualified the narratives of environmental enmeshment offered by African American writers like Zora Neale Hurston and Jean Toomer from the categories of both literature and nature writing. Notes 1 It may seem strange, considering the institutional impact of American Renaissance, that at this juncture I am granting more attention to Santayana and Brooks than I am to Matthiessen, but these two earlier scholars did indeed establish foundational arguments of Emersons centrality to American literature well before Matthiessens landmark textand Matthiessen directly acknowledges Brookss influence while alluding to Santayana several times throughout American Renaissance. If anything, when Matthiessen also writes in American Renaissance that Emersons theory of expression was that on which Thoreau built, to which Whitman gave extension, and to which Hawthorne and Melville were indebted by being forced to react against its philosophical assumptions, he institutionalizes a critical opinion that had already been in circulation since the turn of the century (xii). 2 Terms like virgin nature and mother nature are so prevalent in both casual and academic discourse that they can seem banal and/or meaningless. Louise Westling,

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72 though, offers a concise history of the gendering of nature in The Green Breast of the New World: Landscape, Gender, and American Fiction that reinforces just how long North American nature has been understood as a virginal or maternal force rather than an antagonistic demonic power. Westling identifies two divergent views of the feminine in European culture that she defines as that of the pure virginal or maternal source of life and comfort, and that of the demonic witch, but she arguesfor the very reason that I have left it out of my list of gendered appelationsthat beyond the Puritan era American culture is worried very little by notions of howling wilderness or figurations of nature as demonic witch (36). She argues later that the any sort of demonic female wilderness would have been rather remote to Emerson in New England where by the early nineteenth century, deforestation . was almost complete, and the . Indians were equally devastated, reduced to small bands of ragged paupers by European disease, colonial appropriation of land and natural resources, and ecological transformation that made traditional subsistence impossible (45) 3 While I think that Nature is Emersons most significant discussion of the natural world because of its role in the establishment of his early reputation and because of its continued status as one of his most widely read, most influential texts, Emersons other writingsparticularly Circles (published in the 1841 Essays: First Series), Nature, (a shorter treatise published in the 1844 Essays: Second Series), The Method of Nature (an 1841 address to Colby College) and some of his often neglected poetrydid engage the natural world in drastically different ways. In these essays, Emersons tone is drastically different. He is no longer the all seeing, all knowing part and parcel of God that he is in Nature, and he tends to find the natural world much more of a mystery than an open book. In Nature, Circles, and The Method of Nature, Emerson believes the natural world to be controlled by divine design but nonetheless finds it dynamic and ultimately unknowablein The Method of Nature in particular he suggests that the natural environment is an unobservable stream of perpetual motion (124-25). In poems like Hamatreya, Earth-Song, Woodnotes I, and Woodnotes II, he presents a vision of the natural world that is very similar to Longfellows environmental vision and frequently slips into a form of environmental apocalypticism that anticipates Robinson Jefferss lyrics about the continued existence of the natural world after the demise of the human species. As diverse and compelling as these pieces show Emersons philosophy of nature to be, however, I simply do not believe that they represent, as Nature does, the institutionalized Emerson, which is the Emerson that most interests me. 4 Coopers libel suits have received little critical attention, and his suit against Greeley usually receives nothing more than a passing mention. Considering the power and celebrity that Greeley enjoyed from the mid-to-late nineteenth century, I think that the vastly different relationships that he had with Cooper and Emerson, which I believe are embodied in these otherwise rather esoteric details, illuminates just how early their critical trajectories were beginning to diverge and just how public this divergence was. By the 1840s, as Teichgraeber argues, Emerson was already achieving the status of an icon in American popular culture despite the fact that his works were not printed in large numbers or widely distributed. Teichgraeber differs from earlier critics, like Mary Kupiec Cayton, by arguing that Emersons lecturing was not as important to his rapid

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73 success as his particular knack for networking among powerful literary and journalistic editors like Greeley. Before 1845 at least, Teichbraeber writes, it was Greeley who served as the single most important source of popular knowledge of Emersons name and ideas; although he was in no position to dictate any sort of national consensus regarding Emerson, he did gain and hold institutional power that he used to provide what at that time was arguably a more important service: the continuing publicity needed to make and keep Emersons name and writings visible in American culture at large (211). While Emerson was earning a national reputation, Cooper was rapidly alienating his own audience. Beginning in 1837 he was embroiled in a host of libel suits that all stemmed from the Three Mile Point controversy in Cooperstown (in which Cooper forbade public use of a popular tract of land that he owned). Cooper filed his first libel suit in 1837; the final case was settled in 1843, one year before he took another deeply unpopular stance by defending the landholders in the 1844 New York State anti-rent agitation. During the years that Cooper was defending himself against a libelous press, that same press was deeply supportive of Emerson. 5 In Early Cooper and His Audience, James D. Wallace writes that by the time he published The Pilot in 1823, Cooper was ready to abandon women readers altogether, but he also explains that Cooper feared the possibility of a negative responses from large female audiences. Considering his willingness to engage in womens writing, his recognition of the power of a female reading public, his savvy negotiation of the tenuous early nineteenth-century American publishing market, and the difference between his sometimes ambivalent orientation toward female audiences and the wholly reactionary responses of those like Hawthorne and Melville, Coopers approach seems relatively progressive and open-minded. The discussion of the power of female audiences in the nineteenth-century United States that William Charvat offers in The Profession of Authorship in America, 1800-1870 articulates several facts about nineteenth century female audiences that have come to be taken for granted in much more contemporary literary scholarship. See, in particular, the discussion of Longfellows orientation toward female audiences in chapter eight and the more general discussion of female readers in chapter fifteen. 6 The primary sources for insight into how James Fenimore Cooper understood Susan Fenimore Coopers Rural Hours are his letters to George Putnam, the initial publisher of Rural Hours, which are included in The Letters and Journals of James Fenimore Cooper. Several scholars, however, have recently offered insightful readings of the relationships between Susan Fenimore Cooper and her father and her relationships with other prominent writers of the period. See, for instance, Rochelle Johnsons introduction to the 1998 University of Georgia Press edition of Rural Hours (which excerpts many of the letters that James Fenimore Cooper exchanged with Putnam) as well as her Walden, Rural Hours, and the Dilemma of Representation and Vera Norwoods chapter on Susan Fenimore Cooper in Made from this Earth: American Women and Nature. 7 See, for instance, Stephanie Smiths Conceived by Liberty: Maternal Figures and Nineteenth-Century American Literature, Louise Westlings The Green Breast of the

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74 New World: Landscape, Gender, and American Fiction, Dorothy Berksons Born and Bred in Different Nations: Margaret Fuller and Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Lindsey Traubs Woman Thinking: Margaret Fuller, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and the American Scholar. 8 For two of the most recent discussions of the Emerson-Fuller relationship, see Traub and Berkson. Berkson pays particular attention to the facts that Fuller saw herself as Emersons intellectual equal, that Emerson embarked on a mission of character and legacy assassination after Fullers death that culminated in his disastrous editing of Fullers Memoirs after he death. It is through Emersons management of the Memoirs project, Berkson argues, that many of the myths about Fuller ever gained momentum: that she was a physically ugly, overwhelming, and egotistical woman and that her attraction to Emerson was romantic (24). 9 Laura Dassow Walls, with Emersons Life in Science: The Culture of Truth, and Lee Rust Brown, with The Emerson Museum: Practical Romanticism and the Pursuit of the Whole, have published the two most recent book-length studies of Emerson and his involvement with natural science, but they write in a long tradition of scholarship on the subject. For earlier interpretations of Emersons engagement with science, see Leon Chais The Romantic Foundations of the American Renaissance, H. H. Clarks Emerson and Science, Elizabeth A. Dants Composing the World: Emerson and the Cabinet of Natural History, Harold Fromms Overcoming the Oversoul: Emersons Evolutionary Existentialism, B. L. Packers Emersons Fall: A New Interpretation of the Major Essays, David Robinsons Emersons Natural Theology and the Paris Naturalists: Towards a Theory of Animated Nature,and Carl F. Strauchs Emersons Sacred Science. 10 I am obviously following the critique of the Enlightenment that has been carried out by scholars in fields ranging from the history of science, to environmental philosophy and literary studies. The scholars who have most directly impacted my brief interpretation of the European Enlightenment are feminist historians of science like Carolyn Merchant and Donna Haraway, environmentally oriented philosophers and like Max Oelschlaeger, Fritjof Capra George Sessions, Arne Naess, and environmentally oriented feminist literary scholars like Louise Westling. See, for instance, Merchants The Death of Nature, Haraways Modest_Witness @Second_Millennium.FemaleMan_Meets_Oncomouse, Oelschlaegers The Idea of Wilderness, the essays of Capra, Sessions, and Naess that are collected in Sessionss Deep Ecology for the 21 st Century, and Westlings The Green Breast of the New World. 11 Although the rest of this chapter is going to discuss the imperialist work of Nature (which continues a feminist critique in another form), it is worth noting before this shift that Louise Westling has recognized Nature as the most pure embodiment of the ambivalence Emerson holds toward women. In her own words,The most profound anxiety revealed in Nature is fear of the feminine, with a corresponding need to ensure the subjective distance from it that defines male control. That Nature is feminine is a cultural given, as we have seen. It is everywhere apparent in the essay, from the

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75 consistent use of feminine pronouns to explicit personification of Nature and feminine clothing metaphors. The problem for Emersons persona is an infantile yearning for passive bliss in a maternal embrace. This effiminacy must be fought and overcome by manly assertions of will (41). 12 Two distinct families of criticism have posed these arguments about Emersons quiet justification of American industrial capitalism and imperialism. For discussions of Emersons legitimization of American industrial economics, see Maurice Gonnauds An Uneasy Solitude: Individual and Society in the Work of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Len Gougeons Virtues Hero: Emerson, Antislavery, and Reform, Howard Horwitzs By Law of Nature: Form and Value in Nineteenth-Century America, Barbara Packers The Transcendentalists, Carolyn Porters Seeing and Being: The Plight of the Participant Observer in Emerson, James, Adams, and Faulkner, and John Carlos Rowes At Emersons Tomb: The Politics of Classic American Literature. For discussions of Emersons imperialism, see Eric Cheyfitzs The Poetics of Imperialism: Translation and Colonization from The Tempest to Tarzan and A Common Emerson: Ralph Waldo Emerson in an Ethnohistorical Context, Jenine Abboushi Dallals American Imperialism UnManifest: Emersons Inquest and Cultural Regeneration, Paul Giless Transnationalism and Classic American Literature, and Brady Harrisons The Young Americans: Emerson, Walker, and the Early Literature of American Empire. 13 Throughout this paragraph I modify the language that Steven Rendall uses in his translation of The Practice of Everyday Life. De Certeau, via Rendall, most often uses the word stories in his discussion of the creation and modification of spatial practices, and in some places he discusses a particular type of storythe story of spatial mapping that is centered around the navigation of a particular space (to use my own examples rather than de Certeaus, be this space urban in the guise of J. Alfred Prufrocks experience in London or rural in the fashion of Tess Durbeyfields navigation of Thomas Hardys rural Wessex in Tess of the DUrbervilles). I find, however, that de Certeau oscillates freely between the specific genre of spatial mapping and stories in general, and that he often invokes story with such generality that it would not take him out of context to substitute narrative for story as I do in this paragraph. As I hope is apparent by this point in my argument, I find that Emersons workwhich is, of course, much more easily classified as narrative rather than story,an exceptional narrative intervention into spatial practice that should not be kept from de Certeaus theoretical concerns on the basis of generic classifications that are slippery even in de Certeaus own text. 14 My understanding of Emersons critical heritage owes much to Sarah Ann Widers The Critical Reception of Emerson: Unsettling all Things, Charles E. Mitchells Individualism and Its Discontents: Appropriations of Emerson, 1880-1950, both of which recount the history of Emersons reception since the late nineteenth century, and Mary Kupiec Caytons The Making of an American Prophet: Emerson, His Audiences, and the Rise of the Culture Industry in Nineteenth-Century America, which describes the production of Emersons popularity during his own lifetime.

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76 15 Blooms collection is entitled Ralph Waldo Emerson (1985) and Mr. America appears as its untitled introduction; Buells collection is entitled Ralph Waldo Emerson: A Collection of Critical Essays (1993) and Mr. America appears as Emerson: Power at the Crossing; and Porte and Morriss collection is The Cambridge Companion to Ralph Waldo Emerson (1999) and the spirit of Mr. America is kept aliverecast, in fact, to meet new challenges to Emersons positive heritagein the volumes preface and introduction. I mention these collections of essays with some hesitation. They present nothing new or groundbreaking, after all, but as texts intended for the use of Emerson initiates they seem an exceptional site for the constructionor maintenanceof Emersons status as a positive icon of American literature and culture. 16 In response to postcolonialist interpretations of Emersons work, Porte writes that Emerson would have nothing to do with an American civilization, so-called, willing to cover its crimes with cries of manifest destiny and America first. . [he] was a severe critic of an America capable of invading Mexico, oppressing blacks, and denying women equal rights (11). Although he never explicitly reveals the source of his anxiety, Porte is probably responding to Eric Cheyfitzs The Poetics of Imperialism: Translation and Colonization from The Tempest to Tarzan, (1991), which introduces the thesis about Emersons imperialism that Cheyfitz develops more fully in A Common Emerson: Ralph Waldo Emerson in an Ethnohistorical Context and sets the stage for the more recent arguments posed by Brady Harrison and Jenine Abboushi Dallal. 17 Caytons The Making of an American Prophet discusses the relationship that Emerson developed with the merchant class audiences that funded, publicized, and attended his lectures after the waning of the initial New England lyceum movement. Cayton draws a crucial distinction between the initial lyceum movement, which was begun by John Holbrook in 1929 to promote dissemination of useful information, discussion, and debate and the Young Mens Associations that began to supercede the lyceums by 1840 (83). The Young Menss Associations were different from the lyceums in several ways: they were more deliberately intended to inculcate certain moral values, they were intimately linked to city boosters and businesspeople in ways that lyceums were not, and their reliance upon traveling lecturers cultivated a culture of celebrity (86). One of Caytons central theses is that Emersons later audiences, which cared less about the actual substance of Emersons speeches than they did about experiencing a bonafide celebrity, had already begun to excise the cultural criticism from Emersons lectures to hear only the parts that seemed to support or legitimize their commercial desires. 18 As the rest of Looking Away will demonstrate, I believe that Emersons environmental vision bears an incredibly strong influence on the ways that American authors engaged environmental crisis well into the twentieth century, and much of this influence is the direct result of the tremendous commercial and critical success that launched Emerson into public consciousness very early in his careera level of commercial and critical success, that is, that Thoreau never achieved. In the comprehensive and incisive history of Thoreaus reception that he offers in The Environmental Imagination, Buell suggests that Thoreaus current stature is the result of long-term and determined marketing first by Ticknor and Fields and then by Houghton,

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77 Mifflin (who also published John Muirs books). Buell argues that Thoreau, despite his association with (and the publicity he garnered from) the vastly more famous Emerson, had no real widespread popularity until around the turn of the twentieth century after repeated marketing efforts by his publishers. Ticknor and Fields/Houghton, Mifflin slipped Thoreaus name into introductions to other and newer books, like those of John Burroughs and Charles Dudley Warner in efforts to promote Thoreau as the chief influence of these writers. Despite such efforts, however, the real breakthrough was the appearance of Thoreau in anthologies designed for classroom use that extracted comparatively descriptive and scientific, nonmystical, and non-pugnacious essays (346). The irony of this is that the publication industry essentially turned Thoreau into a Fireside/Schoolhouse figure in efforts to sell his books. Later, of course, he came to supercede Whittier, Longfellow, Holmes, and the other poets who are still derogatorily known as Fireside or Schoolhouse poets in the larger scope of American literary studies. Buell writes that Walden was being vastly outsold by Evangeline as late as 1906 (60,000 copies to 2,500). As Buell states it, Between 1880 and 1903, the sales of Thoreaus books had indeed quadrupled, but his annual thousands were dwarfed by Emersons ten thousands, not to mention Longfellows hundred thousands (342). His ascension into the favor of Houghton, Mifflin corresponded to the companys downgrading of Whittier, whose copyright fees were becoming unattractive while his sales were beginning to erode by the turn of the century. Particularly because of its concision and the attention it grants to Ticknor and Fields/Houghton Miffilin, I am particularly fond of Buells interpretation of Thoreaus publication history. For other accounts, however, see Wendell Glicks The Recognition of Henry David Thoreau, Michael Meyers Several More Lives to Live: Thoreaus Political Reputation in America, Michael Meyer and Walter Hardings Thoreaus Reputation, Raymond R. Borsts Henry David Thoreau: A Reference Guide, 1835-1899, Gary Scharnhorstss Henry David Throeau: A Case Study in Canonization, and Robert Sattelmeyers Walden: Climbing the Canon. 19 Buell and Oelschlaeger are by no means the only scholars to valorize Thoreau as the pre-eminent nineteenth-century philosopher of nature, often to the denigration of Emerson, but the arguments that they pose in The Environmental Imagination and The Idea of Wilderness have had a singular influence on a tremendous amount of recent, often explicitly ecocritical, scholarship on Thoreau. For other declarations of Thoreaus exceptionality as an early environmentalist and visionary ecological thinker, see Daniel Botkins No Mans Garden: Thoreau and a New Vision for Civilization and Nature, Philip Cafaros Thoreaus Virtue Ethics in Walden and Thoreaus Environmental Ethics in Walden, Robert Kuhn McGregors A Wider View of the Universe: Henry Thoreaus Study of Nature, Oelschlaegers Environment and the 21 st Century: A Thoreauvian Interlude, Scott Russell Sanderss Speaking a Word for Nature, William Rossis Thoreaus Transcendental Ecocentrism, and Donald Worsters Natures Economy: A History of Ecological Ideas and Thoreau and the American Passion for Wilderness.

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CHAPTER 4 HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW, UNITED STATES NATIONAL LITERATURE, AND THE AMERICAN CANONS ERASURE OF MATERIAL NATURE When George Santayana and Van Wyck Brooks began constructing an American canon around Emerson and Whitman during the early decades of the twentieth century, they initiated a long fade into obscurity for a range of authors like Washington Irving, James Fenimore Cooper, William Cullen Bryant, John Greenleaf Whittier and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Irvings popularity had always been tenuous, though, and Cooper had damaged his own reputation so badly with his libel suits that the new generation of critics simply finished a critical dismantlement that was already well under way. Bryant supported himself primarily as an editor throughout his career and he never produced a huge body of literary work, and Whittier was remembered as an abolitionist as much as a poet. It was Longfellow, though,the most successful, most widely read American poet of the nineteenth centurywho embodied better than any other literary figure the genteel tradition that Santayana and Brooks sought to overthrow. Ultimately, Santayana and Brooks accomplished their goal of breaking the genteel tradition, and in the process they also broke Longfellow, whose reputation, despite a mild revival over the last fifteen years, has never recovered. 1 Longfellows erasure from the American canon surely marked an extreme shift in literary aesthetics, but it also constituted a pivotal moment in the history of American literatures silent environmental politics. Regardless of how unpalatable Longfellows 78

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79 poetry may have been to early twentieth century poets and critics, and regardless of how foreign it may seem in the twenty-first century, many of Longfellows most enduring artistic productions, like Evangeline and The Song of Hiawatha, were conscious efforts to enact an environmentally determined American literature. This national literature, as Longfellow envisioned it, would draw its uniqueness from a North American environment that he understood in physical and terrestrial termsnature, for him, was a visible, tactile phenomenon, not a set of abstractions like those formulated by Emerson in Nature. Three times during his career, in his 1824 The Literary Spirit of Our Country, in his 1832 Defence of Poetry, and in his 1849 Kavanagh, Longfellow argued that any legitimate national literature of the United States should have to spring from European literary roots but depend upon the influence of North American nature for its uniqueness. 2 After the first of these manifestoes, which establishes the fundamental position that persists throughout subsequent arguments, each restatement of Longfellows position participates in a debate over the course of American literature that drew the support of figures like James Russell Lowell and C. C. Felton and the ire of hypernationalistic and nativist Young Americans like Evert Augustus Duyckinck and Cornelius Mathews. 3 Longfellows Literary Manifestoes When it is mentioned at all, Longfellows theorization of an American literature is regularly reduced to a single essayusually the 1832 Defence of Poesyor dismissed as a voice in the crowd. 4 Admittedly, Longfellow published his first literary manifesto, The Literary Spirit of Our Country, when he was very younghe published it in the United States Literary Gazette in 1825. Regardless of its early date, however, this manifesto is critical to understanding the endurance of Longfellows commitment to an

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80 environmentally determined and Trans-Atlantic American literature. It offers a prehistory to the more fully developed 1832 Defence of Poetry, which has attracted some critical attention, just as Longfellows discussion of United States national literature in his 1849 Kavanagh carries his plan for American literature into mid-century. Over the course of these three pieces, Longfellow remains committed to a middle course between American literary nativism and the imitation of European models, he laments the impediments to literary culture that exist in the United States, and he always argues that the North American environment must be the source of any emergent American national literature. While Longfellows theoretical commitments remain consistent, however, each subsequent argument presents a more vehement engagement with general and critical American cultures. As Longfellow moves from The Literary Sprit of Our Country to The Defence of Poetry and eventually to Kavanagh, he sharpens his critique of print culture in the United States and he takes issue with the New Americans, like Cornelius Mathews, who were arguing at the time for the creation of a nationalistic American Literature that would sever itself entirely from British and European culture. From the very beginning of his career, Longfellow believed that any U. S. national literature would have to base its claims of vitality and originality on the qualities of its natural environment because the new nation could match neither the educational superstructure nor the deep cultural legacies that had produced enduring literary traditions in Europe. In The Literary Spirit of Our Country, for instance, Longfellow resigns himself to the enduring influence of English taste in literature but he claims that the exceptionally sensitive poetic mind would be deeply affected by a North American

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81 nature that is more exquisite than elsewhere (793). On this particular continent, even in the particular country of the United States, Longfellow believes that nature has exhibited her works upon the most beautiful and magnificent scale and that this vast theatre can be the school in which the genius of our country is to be trained (793). Here, the environment bears such an influence upon the mind . that the features of the intellect are moulded after those of nature (793). In his second literary manifesto, The Defense of Poetry, Longfellow seems more representative of what we regard today as mainstream nineteenth century literary criticism; that is, he seems more Emersonian. After summarizing the national zeitgeisthe finds the nation gripped in a pervasive sense of utility, proud of its territorial size, and enraptured with the magnificence and beauty of our natural sceneryhe remarks that the true glory of a nation consists not in the extent of its territory, the pomp of its forests, the majesty of its rivers, the height of its mountains, and the beauty of its sky; but in the extent of its mental power (60). From this point, Longfellow launches into a long rant about a nations power being manifest in the majesty of its intellect,the height and depth and purity of its moral nature . in what nature and education have given to the mind . in the world within us . in the attributes of the soul . in the incorruptible, the permanent, the imperishable mind. True greatness is the greatness of the mind;the true glory of a nation is moral and intellectual pre-eminence (60). It is this keen interest in the mind of the nation that causes Eric Carl Link, in American Nationalism, to conclude that Longfellow envisioned American national literature to be purely a poetry of the mind (revelatory merely of the majesty of the intellect and concerned not in the world around us, but in the world within us) that

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82 was dreadfully stunted by a national spirit preoccupied with materialistic utility (American Nationalism section II). Link overlooks, however, Longfellows continued obsession with the destining power of the North American environment. Regardless of how concerned Longfellow is about the state of American culture or how much he wants to locate national power in the intellect, his belief in environmental determinism is just as strong in The Defence of Poetry as it is in The Literary Spirit of Our Country. Here, as in the previous essay, the natural world offers the best avenue toward a viable and original American literature. Longfellow still believes, in 1832, that nature shapes the character of the mind, the peculiar habits of thought and feeling, and, consequently, the general complexion of literary performances, and he extends this sentiment into a claim that the effects of natural scenery and climate on the mind are the most obvious . in their influence upon the prevailing tenor of poetic composition (70). He supports his argument with claims that the particular environments of England, Italy, Spain, and Portugal have shaped each nations literature, and he ultimately recommends that American authors submit the formation of a new national literature to natures deterministic power. Openly desiring that our native poets would give a more national character to their writings, Longfellow simply suggests that they have only to write more naturally, to write from their own feelings and impressions, from the influence of what they see around them, and not from any pre-conceived notions of what poetry ought to be, caught by reading many books, and imitating many models (74, 75). Longfellow and the Nineteenth Century American Literature Debates Longfellows suggestion in The Defence of Poetry that an American literature would develop on its own due to the influence of the natural world differs drastically from other early-to-mid nineteenth-century manifestoes of American national literature.

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83 No manifesto presents a more different vision, for instance, than Cornelius Mathewss hyper-nationalistic 1847 Nationality in Literaturethe essay, it seems, that caused Longfellow to restate his theory of environmentally determined poetry for a third time in his 1849 prose tale, Kavanagh. In Nationality in Literature, Mathews (who is remembered today as an overzealous member of the Young Americans who often irritated his more conventional associates like Evert Duyckinck) is frustrated to distraction by the fact that this great country . has no native literature, but is, in letters, in a state of colonial and provincial dependency upon the old world (60). 5 The United States, he finds, exists in an old literary domination; it is overmastered by the literature of England and mired in a state of pupilage that can be best overcome through the cultivation of a clear development of the idea and the necessity of nationality (61). American national literature, as far as Cornelius Mathews is concerned, should involve home writers . . home themes, affording opportunity for descriptions of our scenery . events . [and] the manners of the people all penetrated and vivified by an intense and enlightened patriotism (62 emphasis added). Nationalism, Mathews argues, guard[s] the soil and preserve[s] the sacred independence of nations, but it also inspires great literature. (65). Using Greece, Rome and England as examples because their writers have been most penetrated by the sense of nationality, Mathews argues that nationalism, instead of narrowing the domain of . great writers, has made their chief works the peerless gifts and priceless treasures of the whole intellectual world (63). Mathews feels that American authors slavishly adhere to old and foreign models, and he demands that they abandon their unnational spirit to finally create a new American

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84 literature (65). It should be thoroughly independent of Europe, Mathews argues; it should be (quoting a speech that he had earlier presented in New York City) instinct with the life of the country, full of a hearty, spontaneous, genuine home feeling; relishing of the soil of the spirit of the people, and it should sound of the great voices of nature, of which she is full (65). Mathewss Nationality in Literature shares one idea with Longfellows manifestoesit believes that any emergent American literature would require the particularly powerful influence of the North American environment. However, it attacks the internationalism of Longfellow and other like-minded intellectuals like C. C. Felton (the classicist who was Longfellows colleague at Harvard before eventually becoming the colleges president) until it finally arrives at a plan that would have American literature actually look like the literature of, to use the term that Perry Miller made famous, a Natures Nationa nation sui-or-ex natura, composed only from nature without any inheritance from European culture. Beyond simply being angry that the United States has not produced a spectacular nativist literature, in Nationality in Literature Mathews is irritated by the fact that patriotism has been denied in a quarter of respectability by elites like C. C. Felton, who had just written an article in The North American Review disclaiming patriotism as tawdry and counterproductive in the march toward an American national literature. Mathewss entire argument in Nationality in Literature is written in explicit response to the critique of literary patriotism that Felton incorporated into his October 1846 review of Simmss Stories and Reviews. In this review, which strays significantly from its primary subjecttwo works by William Gilmore Simms, Felton argues that national

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85 literature cannot be forced like a hothouse plant while he accuses (through suggestion rather than name-calling) the New Americans of producing merely a good deal of unmeaning talk about American literature without doing anything substantial to bring such a national literature into being (377). Feltons discussion of the New Americans manifests itself in a critique of certain coteries of would-be men of letters, noisy authorlings who waste their time and vex the spirits of long-suffering readers, by prating about our want of an independent national American literature (377). As if this is not a sufficiently direct condemnation of Mathews, Felton adds a damning dismissal of Mathewss The Career of Puffer Hopkins that draws Mathews into the center of his critique (377). Mathews recognized in Nationality in Literature, Felton felt that an intense national self-consciousness, though the shallow may misname it patriotism, is the worst foe to the true and generous unfolding of national genius(377). Any viable national literature must speak to the universal rather than the national or provincial, Felton believes, and the New American dismissal of the English language and its glorious treasures amounts to a calamitous rejection of the nations birthright (377). This dismissal, moreover, requires American authors to limit themselves to American subjects . as if, forsooth, the genius of America must never wander beyond the mountains, forests, and waterfalls of the western continent (377). When Mathews turns Feltons position on its head in Nationality in Literature, he is not merely rejecting the theory of national literature held by a Harvard classicist, but the primary theory of an internationalist and environmentally determined American literature that Longfellow had already once restated since his 1824 The Literary Spirit of

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86 Our Country. And it was Mathewss 1847 reaction against Felton in Nationality in Literature, it seems, that inspired Longfellow to once again redefine his position in his 1849 Kavanagh, a tale that he began writing in 1847 shortly upon the heels of Mathewss essay. Longfellows Kavanagh tells a conventional tale of country romance, but in the center of the tale a new character named Mr. Hathawaymodeled after Cornelius Mathewsenters the scene with no purpose beyond sparking an extended debate about national literature with Longfellows persona in the texta school teacher and aspiring author, Mr. Churchill. 6 Kavanagh cannot be properly classified as either a romance or a novel (historical or otherwise), but it is a self-conscious work of fiction, and as such it is not surprising that Longfellow never actually speaks the name of Cornelius Mathews. Hathaway bursts on the scene, however, attempting to enlist Churchill in a new magazine he was about to establish, in order to raise the character of American literature, which, in his opinion, the existing reviews and magazines had entirely failed to accomplish (754). The journal, which Hathaway plans to call The Niagara is incredibly similar in its plan to The Arcturus that Mathews edited with Evert Duyckinck from 1841 to 1842, and both Hathaways nativist literary vision and his overzealous rhetoric point unequivocally toward the brash Cornelius Mathews whose unchecked passion embarrassed his friends. Over the course of the discussion that springs up between these two characters, Hathaway offers a number of claims that allow Longfellow to methodically refine the theories of national literature that he offered in 1825 and 1832. As he lays out the plan for his new nativist literary magazine, Hathaway explains that he wants an American

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87 national literature that is as grandiose as the North American environment and as wild, uncultivated, and free: We want a national literature commensurate with our mountains and rivers,commensurate with Niagara, and the Alleghanies, and the Great Lakes! . We want a national epic that shall correspond to the size of the country; that shall be to all other epics what Banvards Panorama of the Mississippi is to all other paintings,the largest in the world! . In a word, we want a national literature altogether shaggy and unshorn, that shall shake the earth, like a herd of buffaloes thundering over the prairies! (754-55) Such a literature, for Hathaway, must be absolutely original (or unrelated to any existing literary tradition) and absolutely national (If it is not national, he argues, it is nothing) (756, 755). Longfellow uses this series of claims to explain his own faith in the American environments ability to eventually cultivate a national literature and to reassert the value of European literary models in the face of nativist literary isolationism. While Longfellow essentially agrees with what Hathaway calls the influence of scenery on the mind, he qualifies his earlier manifestoes broad claims of environmental determinism by having Churchillhis own persona in the textexplain that scenery cannot create genius but only develop it (755). It is not so much a concession on Longfellows part so much as a careful qualification made necessary by what he regarded as Mathewss cockeyed and overly emotional hyper-nationalism, which threatened what Longfellow and Churchill believed would be the natural development of an American literature (756). As Longfellow explains through the mouth of Churchill, national literature is not the growth of a day but of centuries; our own is growing slowly but surely, striking its roots downward, and its branches upward, as is natural; and I do

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88 not wish, for the sake of what some people call originality, to invert it, and try to make it grow with its roots in the air (756). Longfellow expects the particular qualities of the North American environment to shape whatever genius arises in the United States, but he wants to allow nature the time it takes to create a national literature that is universal and internationally engaged rather than narrowly nationalistic and mired in a patriotism that is often ridiculous (756). Regardless of natures power to shape the literary mind, in Kavanagh as in each of his previous literary manifestoes, Longfellow neither believes nor desires that American literature will ever be able to exact the clean break from British literature that Hathawayand Cornelius Mathewswant. Churchill, constantly speaking for Longfellow, simply cannot see how our literature can be very different from theirs. Westward from hand to hand we pass the lighted torch, but it was lighted at the old domestic fireside of England (756). Moreover, he does not recognize this extension of the British tradition as an imitation so much as a continuation that we may well be proud of (756). There is nothing in Kavanagh to dilute, in other words, the staunch sense of trans-Atlantic unity that inspires Longfellow to write near the end of his Defence of Poetry that any aspiring American poet should make . the whole body of English classical literature, his study (77). Longfellows Un-Emersonian Nature In the scattered fits and bursts that he devotes to Longfellow in American Renaissance, F. O. Matthiessen argues that Evangeline (1847) and The Song of Hiawatha (1855) demonstrate the chief problem with Longfellows poetry: his poetic forms were not brought into fusion with his native themes (174). Longfellows manifestoes were all but forgotten by the time Matthiessen published American Renaissance and their

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89 approach was thoroughly out of step with the modernist program that Matthiessen promoted. They suggest, however, that Longfellows fusion of European forms and native themes was entirely intentional. In The Literary Spirit of Our Country, Defence of Poetry,and Kavanagh, Longfellow asks that poets turn to American nature for inspiration and for literary subject matter while maintaining ties to European literary traditions, and he argues repeatedly that any American exceptionality in culture or literature would have to be environmentally determined. In Evangeline and Hiawatha Longfellow attempts to carry this poetic project forward, and while he fuses the forms of Scandanavian sagas with North American subjects he presents the natural world in a way that is wholly different from Emersons system of environmental abstraction. Longfellow, rather, consistently represents the natural world as a terrestrial and material, grounded and tactile phenomenon, and in these two long poems he spends tremendous amounts of space describing it because it bears such incredible cultural significance. Nearly half of Evangeline, after all, constitutes a ranging tour of the North American continent, and throughout the poem Longfellow depends upon an environmental gaze that despite it frequent panoramic sweep remains fixed on a physical, terrestrial American environment. 7 After the village of Grand-Pr is burned and its inhabitants are dispersed by the British navy, the poem follows Evangeline Bellefontaines search for her financ, Gabriel Lajeunesse, as she travels down the Mississippi to Louisiana, and from there to the American West. The entire second section

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90 of Part the Second, in fact, catalogs what Evangeline sees as she travels through a wilderness sombre with forests: cotton-trees . broad lagoons, where silvery sandbars / Lay in the stream . china-trees . groves of orange and citron . a maze of sluggish and devious waters . towering and tenebrous boughs of the cypress . trailing mosses . herons . columns of cypress and cedar . the whoop of the crane and the roar of the grim alligator . water-lilies in myriads (43) 8 After Evangeline reaches the Louisiana home of Basil the Blacksmith and finds that Gabriel has sought in the Western wilds oblivion of self and of sorrow, her continued search for Gabriel takes the poem into the West, where Longfellow again presents a sweeping, panoramic representation of the North American continent (47). The poems movement into the West allows Longfellow to cartographically enclose the expansive natural space that he expects to nourish a national literature, and he does this in a language of scale, wonder, beauty, and luxuriance that constantly emphasizes the exceptionality of the North American environment. The same claim of environmental exceptionality motivates Longfellows The Song of Hiawatha, which makes an explicit claim of its own environmental determination. The stories, legends and traditions that the poem will relate, Longfellow explains, have come From the great forests and the prairies, / From the great lakes of the Northland, / From the land of the Ojibways, / From the land of the Dacotahs, / From the mountains, moors, and fen-lands / Where the heron, the Shuh-shuh-gah, / Feeds among the rushes(141). Not from any person in particular, but explicitly from placesgreat forests and prairie, great lakes, ancestral lands, and mountains, moors, and fen-lands.

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91 After his opening claim of natures literary agency, Longfellow claims that Native American oral literature (which he did take seriously) is itself evidence of the natural worlds artistic agency. 9 The legends and traditions that Hiawatha relates, Longfellows narrator explains, have come to him from the lips of Nawadaha, an Indian singer, who, in turn, heard them directly from the natural world (141). Nawadaha, Longfellow writes, found the stories In the birds nests of the forest, / In the lodges of the beaver, In the hoof-prints of the bison, / In the eyry of the eagle (141). In the moorlands and the fen-lands, / In the melancholy marshes All the wild-fowl said them to him; Chetowaik, the plover sang them, / Mahng, the loon, the wild goose, Wawa, / the blue heron, the Shuh-Shuh-gah, / And the grouse, the Mushodosa all sang the stories of Hiawatha to Nawadaha, the Indian singer who pulled a native literature out of the natural world (141). The Nations Shifting Sense of Nature and Longfellows Hedge Against the Future As Longfellow was arguing for an environmentally determined American literature and working to create it, the nations perception of its own environment was undergoing a drastic shift. Over the course of the nineteenth century, in the words of Shawn Leowen, the nations dominant conception of nature shifted from a discourse of abundance to a discourse of scarcity (98). Emerson and his abstract vision of an immortal nature were becoming canonical, but the nations sense of nature was moving closer to the pessimistic environmental vision that Cooper presented in the Leatherstocking Series earlier in the century even as Cooper was being driven into obscurity. Longfellow clearly sensed this shift in environmental perception, which fundamentally threatened his plan for an environmentally determined American

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92 literature. It punctures his narratives of natures grandeur in surprising moments, and it causes him to prepare a series of countermeasures that would preserve his American literature against the possibility of natures ultimate end. All of thisLongfellows sense of an environmental shift and his reaction against itappears in Evangeline. This poem begins and ends with descriptions of the timeless, pristine, and explicitly un-threatened forest that surrounds the Acadian village of Grand-Pr, and it spends incredible space on a panoramic tour of the North American continent; it is punctured, however, almost at its center, by a stark admission of North American natures destructibility. In lines that simultaneously praise American progress and throw the endurance of Longfellows literary program into doubt, Longfellow writes that lands may be had for the asking, and forests of timber / With a few blows of the axe are hewn and framed into houses (6061). The replacement of forests with houses was something that Longfellow could notand would not have wanted todenounce, but it still presented him with a tremendous problem. For all of their positive implications, it was not houses, but nature, forests, that he believed could shape the cultural development of the United States, and as much as he recognized the threatened status of North American nature, Longfellow still needed to believe that the Acadian environment could continue to endure as it does in his poem. The literary program that he had theorized and refined since his youth depended upon it Structurally, Evangline keeps the Acadian environment alive. It is as pure, inexorable, and immutable at the end of the poem when Longfellow returns to it as it is at the poems beginning. But the problem in within the bounds of the United States is different. Here, especially in the final half of the poem, Longfellow becomes adopts an

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93 apocalyptic, even post-apocalyptic, view of the natural world and imagines a way to preserve the cultural force of the natural world even if it meets its actual end. Almost immediately after the iconic pioneering axe punctures Longfellows poem, he narrates a voyage down the Mississippi river and begins interpreting the natural world as a glorious ruinin much the same way that Walter Benjamin relies upon the image of the ruin in The Origins of German Tragic Dramathat that can retain its cultural value even after its destruction as a viable physical entity. As he narrates this voyage down the Mississippi, Longfellow slips into the same discourse of architecture that Benjamin uses to formulate his idea of the ruin. On the Mississippi, for instance, the tenebrous boughs of the cypress, Longfellow writes, met in a dusky arch, and the trailing mosses in mid-air / Waved like banners that hang on the walls of ancient cathedrals (43). Rows of trees are columns, colonnades, and corridors, and when beams of moonlight penetrate the forest canopy, the light shines into broken vaults . as through chinks in a ruin (44). In describing nature with architectural metaphorseven metaphors of ruined architecture, Longfellow is preparing North American nature to become the same type of culturally significant ruin that Walter Benjamin understood to operate in the Trauerspiel, a form of baroque sixteenth-century German drama. In the Trauerspiel, Benjamin explains, ruins and fragments of antiquitythe highly significant fragment, the remnantwere the ideal materials for the creation of new art (178). The ruin embodies history, and as an artistic medium fragments of ruined greatness allow for the creation of new structure[s] that would, even in destruction, still be superior to the harmonies of antiquity, even in its original state of wholeness (177).

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94 In each of his manifestoes, Longfellow argues that Native American cultures grant North America a cultural history that rivals Europe, but he also clearly suggests that Native American culture is most powerful to white culture when the Natives themselves have disappeared. By the same token, if North American nature were to collapse as the viable physical entity that allows him to make claims of American exceptionality and to argue for an American national literature, it could still serve the purposes of U. S. national culture. Even in a ruined state, it could grant the United States a sense of deep history that it lacked. Even in decay it would suggest greatness, perhaps still determine the nations character, and possibly fulfill Longfellows environmentally determinist literary program. After all, as Benjamin recognizes, in the ruins of great buildings, the idea of the plan speaks more impressively than in lesser buildings, however well preserved they are (235). Erasing Longfellow and Naturalizing American Literary Personality in the Early Twentieth Century Longfellow believed that the differences between American and European literatures would ultimately be the function of a distinctly American nature, and he composed poems in Evangeline and The Song of Hiawatha that attempt to offer examples of just such an environmentally determined American literature. These poems map a geographical space that they explicitly define as exceptional; they claim this space as both an artistic subject and arts destining force; they argue that a new national literature can emerge out of the North American continent; they cultivate an environmental gaze that consistently focuses on a natural world that is terrestrial and material nature rather than abstract in the mode of Emerson; and they prepare American literature for an

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95 existence beyond the death of North American nature. In the end, however, none of this held sway into the twentieth century. During his lifetime, Longfellow had his critics. Poe famously accused him of plagiarism. Margaret Fuller, while dismissing Poes claims on the grounds that Longfellows very poetic project cause depends upon poetic borrowing and imitation, argued in American Literature: Its Position in the Present Time, and Prospects for the Future that Longfellow had no style of his own and that the derivative style he did have simply sucked the life out of his poems (154). 10 In her own words, this want of the free breath of nature in his poetry, this perpetual borrowing of imagery, this excessive, because superficial, culture which he has derived from an acquaintance with the elegant literature of many nations and men out of proportion to the experience of life himself, prevent Mr. Longfellows verses from ever being a true refreshment to ourselves (154). It was not Poe and Fuller, however, who excised Longfellow from the American canon. He was firmly entrenched in the American cultural memorystill recognized, in fact, as one of the U. S.s representative authorswhen Santayana and Brooks began their work of canon construction at the turn of the twentieth century. Nearly every aspect of Longfellows literary program ran counter to the goals of these critics. To Santayana and Brooks, Longfellows literary manifestoes were simply unimportantunworthy of discussion, in fact, his vision of trans-Atlantic literary unity seemed weak-minded and unimaginative, his poetry seemed childish and fit for no higher purpose than childrens reading, and he mattered most as the representative figure of an American culture that by the turn of the twentieth century had become soft, feminized, and genteel. 11

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96 The roles of Santayana and Brooks in this canonical intervention cannot be overstated, particularly because they played such central roles in the formation of subsequent American literary criticism. Santayana and Brooks accomplished their erasure of Longfellow from the American literary canon with a veritable blitz of publications between 1911 and 1936. Santayana defined gentility as an American cultural plague in his 1911 The Genteel Tradition in American Philosophy and he explicitly connected this cultural problem with Longfellow in his 1915 Genteel American Poetry, and his 1920 The Moral Background. Considering the iconic statusand tremendous commercial successthat Longfellow had achieved by the late nineteenth century, it is hardly surprising that he would eventually become a representative figure of the genteel tradition that Santayana deplored But when Santayana does finally confront Longfellow, he bridges the gap between nineteenth century critical discussions that concern themselves primarily with the development of a national literature and the twentieth century conversations that finally do accomplish an American canon at Longfellows expense. In The Moral Background, for instance, Santayana describes Rip Van Winkle, Hiawatha, and Evangeline as the best literary productions of New Englands mid-nineteenth century Indian summer of the mind, butcontinuing the sentiments of Mathews and Fullerhe condemns the writings of Irving and Longfellow as unorginal or un-American: they lacked native roots and fresh sap because the American intellect itself lacked them. Their culture was half a pious survival, half an intentional acquirement; it was not the inevitable flowering of a fresh experience (78).

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97 It is precisely this insistence upon new, uniquely American experience that shaped the nineteenth century response to Longfellows work, but Santayana inaugurates a new line of critiquethe line that would be pursued with particular vigor by Van Wyck Brookswhen he condemns Longfellows poetry on gendered grounds in Genteel American Poetry. Here, Santayana deploys the usual critique of antebellum American poetry as a boundless field of convention, prosperity and mediocrity, but for the first time he also describes Longfellows poetry as the expression of an aged and atrophied femininity: it was a simple, sweet, humane, Protestant literature, grandmotherly in that sedate spectacled wonder with which it gazed at the terrible world and said how beautiful and how interesting it all was (73 emphasis added). Longfellows poetry does not merely represent a feminine literature, but, the most negative form of femininity that Santayana can mustera naive and visually impaired femininity that lacks even sexual or generative vitality. To one degree or another, whenever Santayana discusses the genteel tradition Longfellow looms as an omniscient example. For Van Wyck Brooks, however, Longfellow is a subject of direct, persistent, and consistently gendered attack. Brooks finds him, like Cooper (as I explained in Chapter 1), a member of the first generation of American writers who wrote like prudent women preparing a home for habitation (47). The work of both Cooper and Longfellow constitutes a literature of necessity in Brookss formulation, that like the first warm blaze in a newly constructed hearth. . takes away the sense of chill and makes the room . at once cozy and cheerful (47). By no means do either Cooper or Longfellow accomplish what Brooks regards as the primary purpose of a poet: to revivify a people (51).

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98 In the introduction to his 1934 Three Essays on America, which reprints some of Americas Coming-of-Age, Brooks offers an apology to Longfellow and the other authors that he feels he may have treated unfairly in the earlier book. He explains that he his generation were tired of hearing Longfellow called the Just, and we inscribed our shards against him, ultimately confessing that in Longfellows case, and that of most of the others . I attempted no rounded estimates. I meant merely to brush them lightly, with reference to a point of view that seems to me now sufficiently incomplete. But the tone of my remarks was sometimes rash, even to the point of impudence (11). Despite his attempt to apologize for his early treatment of Longfellow, Brooks never really change his opinion of the man he regardedlike Santayanaas a worthless, old, and (certainly not the least of his concerns) womanish, genteel poet. Much to the contrary, just two years after this apology Brooks offers the twentieth centurys most sustained critical dismissal of Longfellow in his 1936 Flowering of New England. In this text, which attempts to mask it disdain for Longfellow by acknowledging that he had an original mind. He was an innovator in metres and rhythms; he introduced new modes of feeling; he touched his world with a magic that was mild but unmistakable, Brooks pins Longfellow down as, once again, a womanish poet, a poet for children and, (in a new twist) an immanently impotent poet (317 or 318). The long concession that I have just quoted is typical of Brookss treatment of Longfellow throughout The Flowering of New England, and while it marks a significant departure from the way that Santayana and Brooks un-apologetically dismiss him in their earlier critiques, each half-praise comes with a swipe at his poems burden of youthful nostalgia or a condescending remark about the fact that Longfellow seemed to write for

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99 the joy of sharing his treasures, as if he were glad to be thought a mere translator, a simple storyteller, a nursery minstrel (168, 317 or 318). 12 Of these pejorative titles, nursery minstrel has the strongest legs. It moves Brooks, in ways that translator and storyteller do not, directly toward his primary problem with Longfellow and his poetry: simply that they are engaged with a wholly feminine and emasculating domestic sphere of human life. Before Brooks leaves Longfellow, he suggests that Longfellows poetic process involved walking in his garden, certainly a feminine place, among the birds, to the trilling of the frogs in his pond composing the stories he was telling his children and passing . on to a larger world that was an extension of his household (510). His compositional process, for Brooks, essentially amounted to womans work (although it may not have been physical labor in the way that domestic womans work is often imagined, the very fact that it happened in a feminine domestic space would have carried strong enough implications for Brooks) that stripped him of his masculinity so that he himself became childlike and told these poetic stories with a childlike air of trust (510). In the end, this male but domestic poet suffered from a flaccidity that debarred him from the front rank of American litterateurs (512). Domestic, and by implication rendered impotent by his domesticity, the Longfellow of Brookss account was essentially little more than a child himselfand child, it is important to remember, bears no positive implication in the scope of Brooks argument, where real poets are first and foremost expected to be menand firm, potent men at that. When he told the stories that he composed as he walked in his garden, after all, Longfellow told them with a childlike air of trust, or in other words, as if

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100 Longfellow was himself a child (510). For all this emasculating domesticity, Longfellow only remains important, for Brooks, as one of the popular New England authors, like Whittier and Holmes (whom he includes in this group earlier in the paragraph), whom every child could understand and whose works remained as classics indeed, but mainly for children (530). Thus, Santayana and Brooks effectively buried Longfellow beneath an attack on domestic literature that stood essentially unchallenged until Jane Tompkinss Sensational Designs defended domesticity and questioned the critical institutions modernist aesthetics. And since David Leverenzs Manhood and the American Renaissance furthered Tompkinss line of inquiry by illuminating nineteenth century dramas of beset manhood, critics have controlled a critical apparatus capable of redeeming Longfellows domesticityand a considerable number of scholars have used it. Despite its critical redemption, however, Longfellows domesticity is just one element of a poetic project that underwent as near a complete erasure as is possible for an author who enjoyed Longfellows nineteenth century status. Longfellows vision of an environmentally determined American literature may have ultimately proven untenable, but in at least one way it was remarkable: it yoked American literature to the North American environment and forced the two to be invested in each other. It marked a high point in American literatures awareness of, and dependence upon, the natural world. When Santayana and Brooks performed their erasure of Longfellow, however, they could not entirely discard nature from the literary sphere. They wrote, after all, in a moment when nature bore particularly high cultural capital and when the new sense of environmental scarcity had sparked a sustained and

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101 very public conservation movement. In the thirty-year period preceding the publication of Santayanas 1911 The Genteel Tradition in American Philosophy, the nation had witnessed the appearance of John Muirs preservationist essays in journals like Scribners, the Atlantic, the Outlook, and the Overland; the creation of the Yosemite, General Grant, and Sequoia national parks; the formation of the Sierra Club with the of Muir and Robert Underwood Johnson; the appointment of Gifford Pinchot as the director of the national Division of Forestry; the formation of the Audubon Society; and the beginning of John Muirs very public battle to save the Hetch Hetchy Valley from being turned into a reservoir for the city of Los Angeles. By the time that Brooks published his 1915 Americas Coming-of-Age, the battle for the Hetch Hetchy had ended, Muir had died, the natural world had been revealed, for a moment, as the field of political conflict that it always is, and the conservation of nature had become a subject of both household and national debate. 13 Santayanas The Genteel Tradition in American Philosophy even participates in the nature-oriented spirit of the early twentieth century by suggesting that Americans turn to nature as a remedy for their own gentility. In this essay, which directly addresses an American audience, Santayana argues that the mountains and the woods should make you at last ashamed to assert the central claim of American gentility, that the conceited notion that man, or human reason, or the human distinction between good and evil, is the center and pivot of the universe (63). Before the essay ends, Santayana goes so far as to claim that the society of nature, can remove the yoke of this genteel tradition itself . from your shoulders; the mountains and woods of North America, which Santayana describes as virgin and prodigious, he writes, allow you, in one happy moment, at

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102 once to play and to worship, to take yourselves simply, humbly, for what you are, and to salute the wild, indifferent, noncensorious infinity of nature (63). With the natural world still so immanently important to American culture, Santayana and Brooks promote a literary program that strips the American environment of any power to shape or create a national literature (thus severing Longfellows intimate link between American literature and American nature) while subsuming the culturally important rhetoric of nature into a new vision of American literary personality. When Santayana and Brooks proclaim Whitman the true beginning of any real American literature (a proclamation that I also discuss in Chapter 1) Whitman essentially becomes American nature, effectively removing the physical environment from the American literary equation and replacing it with a new, natural, American self. 14 Brooks accomplishes this in Americas Coming of Age at the same moment that he explains Whitmans greatness in terms that approximate the language of environmental determinism that Longfellow uses in his manifestoes. For Brooks, Whitman reveals something organic in American life and he is himself organic (112). As I have already mentioned in my discussion of Cooper, Brooks writes that Whitman was himself a great vegetable of a man, all of a piece in roots, flavor, substantiality, and succulence, well-ripened in the common sunshine (112). By transforming Whitman into something organicspecifically, a succulent, raw, undressed, and certainly phallic vegetableBrooks manages to maintain the convincing language of the earlier environmental determinist models of American national literature while allowing the influential force of a physical nature to fade behind walls of naturalistic language and personality.

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103 As Brooks appropriates the language of environmental determinist models of a national literature, he also manipulates the national relationship to the vast category of the organic by recasting the nation itself as a sort of organic protoplasm. In Brookss formulation, the nation is envisioned as a pre-human figure suspended in a process of Darwinian evolution: America is like a vast Sargasso Seaa prodigious welter of unconscious life, swept by ground-swells of half-conscious emotion. All manner of living things are drifting in it, phosphorescent, gayly colored, gathered into knots and clotted masses, gelatinous, unformed, flimsy, tangled, rising and falling, floating and merging, here an immense distended belly, there a tiny rudimentary brain (the gross devouring the fine)everywhere an unchecked, uncharted, unorganized vitality like that of the first chaos. It is a welter of life which has not been worked into an organism, into which fruitful values and standards of humane economy have not been introduced, innocent of those laws of social gravitation which, rightly understood and pursued with a keen faith, produce a fine temper in the human animal. (164-65) Despite the fact that it makes an unmistakable appeal to the natural through its Sargasso Sea metaphor, this passage performs a semiotic reversal that first of all sublimates the natural world into the world of the sign, thereby removing all agency from the realm of the environmental component of the passage, and then transfers whatever value the organic possessed away from the natural world to the exclusively human sphere. The United States, its literature, and its culture are not determined by an organic spherethey are the organic, they are nature. Ultimately, Brookss replacement of literary environmental determinism with a cult of a naturalistic Whitmanian personality eroded natures literary agency and its literary/cultural capital at one of the most dramatic preservationist moments of United States history, and it gave to the American critical tradition that developed in Brookss wake a method of discussing literature that had almost no connection at all to any sense

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104 of a material nature. It preserved, as these passages from Americas Coming-of-Age demonstrate, a naturalistic rhetoric that possessed considerable cultural power in the historical moment, but only by relegating the environmental language of earlier manifestoes of U. S. national literature to a realm of signification that is entirely removed from any actual environmental signifier. Rather than an environment that shapes a national literature, Brooks offers an American culture that is nature, a primordial and evolutionary Sargasso Sea, and one poet, Walt Whitman, who had emerged out of this welter of life as a true organism who contained a self from whence all of the the environments qualities could be mined. The critical decisions of George Santayana and Van Wyck Brooks were not inevitable events so much as deliberate actions of an implicit environmental politics that overwrote and silenced the vastly different literary plans of nineteenth century literary figures like Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Santayana and Brooks were repelled by Longfellows social conservatism and poetic restraint, but when they rejected his poetry on these grounds and in favor of new modernist literary projects, they also discarded elements of his thinkinghis focus on a material nature and his terrestrial environmental gazethat could have contributed to a much more environmentally engaged course for American literature in the twentieth century. Even Santayana himself, had he given Longfellow a fairer reading, would have appreciated the poets frequently non-anthropocentric environmental vision of a natural world that Santayana believed to be the great hope for a culture that was mired in gentility. 15 As the twentieth century progressed, however, the environmental politics of American literature would become the politics of evasion and displacement that Santayana and Brooks theorized and legitimized

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105 in their canonical decisions. As authors like Willa Cather and John Steinbeck struggled to reconcile environmentalist sympathies with their positions within national and literary cultures of environmental disengagement, Zora Neale Hurston and Jean Toomer wrote of liberatory environmental absorption, and Ernest Hemingway carried American environmental imperialism to its fulfillment, each of these authors wrote within a critical climate and a literary tradition that Santayana and Brooks helped construct against the material nature and terrestrial environmental vision of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Notes 1 For one of the best descriptions of Longfellows popularity and commercial success during the nineteenth century, see William Charvats Literary Publishing in America: 1790-1850 and The Profession of Authorship in America, 1800-1870. Both of these volumes declare Longfellow the first professional poet in the United States and detail the qualities that precipitated Longfellows success, not the least of which was his willingness to devote himself to a kind of poetry attractive to young women of his day, specifically an audience of young girls, who were that portion of the public most endowed with leisure (Literary 70, Profession 121). The degree to which Longfellow has fallen out of the canon has been discussed by nearly every critic who has written about Longfellow in the past twenty yearseach critic that I will mention in the next paragraph has covered this ground, and I am therefore reluctant to recapitulate what has become a trope of Longfellow scholarship. For a very concise, and the most recent, history of Longfellows twentieth century reception, see Charles C. Calhouns The Mulitcultural Longfellow. For more elaborate discussions, see any of the essays that I will mention in the next paragraph. Longfellow has undergone a bit of a critical recovery since Penguin published Longfellows Selected Poems in 1988 with an introduction by Lawrence Buell that demands just such a critical return. The critical work that has been performed on Longfellow and his texts since Buells call for reconsideration, though relatively small, has been surprisingly diverse. In essays that focus on Longfellows relationship to labor, Jill Anderson discusses Longfellows treatment of poetry as labor and his construction of a sustainable poetic lifestyle, while David R. Peck takes a much more negative view and criticizes Longfellow of being complicit in the construction of bourgeois ideologies and hegemonic capitalist materialism. In essays that approach Longfellows work in terms of gender, Jill Anderson, Eric L. Haralson, and Kirsten Silvia Gruesz, working in the tradition of Jane Tomkins and David Leverenz, argue that Longfellow presented feminine and sentimental modes of masculinity that were profoundly antithetical to the notions of vigorous masculinity that came to dominate the Progressive Era and that Longfellows sentimental/domestic masculinity therefore contributed to the modernist revolt against his poetry. Still other scholars, like Christoph Irmscher, Virginia Jackson, and Eric Carl

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106 Link in American Nationalism and the Defense of Poetry, argue that Longfellow was a deeply democratic poet who not only wrote for the masses, but attempted to extend the privileges of poetic authorship to his audience while maintaining a persistently internationalist approach to poetry that ran directly counter to the more narrow visions of nationality espoused by the Young Americans and Emerson, Thoreau, and Whitman. Almost all of these critics discuss canon formation, its effects on Longfellow, and the ways that it might be manipulated, but this topic frequently becomes, as in the case of Links Canon Formation and Marginality, the central focus of critical inquiry. Finally, even fifteen years after Buell exhorted scholars to return to Longfellow, articles like John Derbyshires New Criterion review of a new collection of Longfellows work continue to apologize for and defend Longfellow against the critics who have hounded him for more than a century. 2 There was a fourth time that Longfellow presented this argument, but I have not listed it here. After publishing The Literary Spirit of Our Country in The United States Literary Gazette in 1824, he repeated the spirit of this piece in his 1826 Bowdoin commencement oration, Our Native Poets. Our Native Poets made its way into print shortly after Longfellow gave the address, but it is most accessible today as it is reprinted in Thomas Wentworth Higginsons Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, a biography that was printed in 1902. It has not been reprinted since. Because Our Native Poets is largely a recapitulation of The Literary Spirit of Our Country, I will not spent any real space on it in this chapter. 3 Two of the figures that I mention here are important, but in the sake of brevity I will not discuss them directly in this chapter. James Russell Lowell was a key supporter of Longfellows vision of American literature, and he is even more important now because he has been used (in my opinion, misread) in the last half of the twentieth century to actually discredit the types of literary environmental determinism that interest Longfellow. Shortly after Longfellow published Kavanagh, Lowell published a review essay in the North American Review that thoroughly supported Longfellows position on American national literaturealmost point-by-point. Lowells essay has not attracted tremendous critical attention in quite some time, but one critic who has discussed it, Cecilia Tichi in New World, New Earth, has argued that the essay attacks those who thought that a great national literature would come largely from the rolling rivers, dark & green woods, boundless meadows, and majestic peaks of the American landscape (151). Tichi explains that this particular passage is directed primarily at Timothy Dwights The Columbiad, but her treatment of the essay as a whole suggests that Lowell may have also meant to discredit the types of claims that I am recognizing in Longfellows work. This is simply not the case. The main objective of Lowells essay is to support Longfellows claims in Kavanagh that a national genius must be bornand borne out of a European tradition that, like Longfellow, he did not want American literature to abandonbefore it can be molded by an environment. The fact that a genius, once born, can be molded by an environment, Lowell accepts implicitly. In addition to Lowell, I will not directly discuss Duyckinck in this chapter. I include him here as a way to quickly expand what I mean by Young Americans beyond the highly esoteric figure of Cornelius Mathews. We remember Duyckinck much more

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107 readily today than Mathews, of course, because he was Melvilles editor and chief promoter, he was linked with almost every mid-nineteenth century author that we now consider significant, and he was one of the most powerful editors of the century. Duyckinck, in short, was much more poised and well-connected than Mathews, but he shared his friends vision for a national American literature. Between 1840 and 1842, Duyckinck and Mathews collaborated on Arcturus: A Journal of Books and Opinions, which, like the Niagara that Hathaway proposes in Longfellows Kavanagh, was launched with the explicit purpose of cultivating an American national literature that was much more patriotic and nativist than Longfellows vision of a national literature. 4 Any discussion of Longfellows literary manifestoes is rare, but the types of limiting analysis that I mention here may be found in Eric Carl Links American Nationalism and the Defense of Poetry and Van Wyck Brookss The Flowering of New England. Links essay essentially forgets Longfellows other manifestoes as it claims that The Defence of Poetry is the principal document that sets forth Henry Wadsworth Longfellows views of poetry, while The Flowering of New England claims that the same essay amounted to sufficiently mild words with which to announce an era; that twenty other poets and orators were saying the same things. Longfellow spoke for them all and only spoke with more authority because, with his chair at Harvard, he had an ampler sounding-board behind him (Link Section II, Brooks 154). For a more extensive treatment of Longfellows manifestoes, see Cecil B. Williamss Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and for a brief general overview of the aesthetic system that Longfellow presents in these manifestoes, without Brookss condescension of Brookss account, see Lawrence Buells New England Literary Culture: From Revolution Through Renaissance, especially pages 44-45. 5 Although it sympathizes with Mathews, supports his literary nationalism, and joins his critique of internationalist literary figures like Longfellow, Perry Millers The Raven and the Whale still offers one of the most thorough treatments of Mathewss role in the nineteenth century debates over U. S. literary nationalism. For a more recent discussion of Mathews and his circle, see Edward L. Widmers Young America: The Flowering of Democracy in New York City. Both Miller and Widmer acknowledge that Longfellows Kavanagh is a direct engagement with Cornelius Mathews. Beyond Miller and Widmer, numerous scholars have written about the role that Young Americans played in nineteenth century American imperialism. For two recent arguments in this vein, see Brady Harrisons The Young Americans: Emerson, Walker, and the Early Literature of American Empire and Jenine Abboushi Dallals American Imperialism UnManifest. 6 The similarities between Churchill and Longfellow and Hathaway and Mathews are quite stark. So stark, in fact, that in The Raven and the Whale Perry Miller refers to these characters as Churchill-Longfellow and Hathaway-Mathews (252) 7 As all of Longfellows standard biographies have acknowledged, Longfellow never traveled into the (near or far) West, and he never actually saw the Mississippi; his ability to describe the West depended upon artistic renderings of the West, particularly

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108 John Banvards panorama of the Mississippi, which he saw on display in Boston on December 19, 1846. For descriptions of Longfellows experience with this panorama and discussions of its effect on Longfellow as he composed Evangeline, see Samuel Longfellows Life of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Cecil B. Williamss Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and Charles C. Calhouns Longfellow: A Reconsidered Life. 8 Here and in the rest of my citations of Longfellows poetry, I list page numbers rather than line numbers because each of the volumes of poetry I quote do not list line numbers. 9 Virginia Jackson offers an excellent reading of Longfellows treatment of Native Americans, and Native American languages, in Longfellows Tradition; or, Picture-Writing a Nation. Jackson explains that Longfellow was as well informed as possible about Native American languages and cultureslargely through a close engagement with Henry Schoolcrafts work on these subjectsbut that he still conceded the eventual disappearance of these people, their languages, and their cultures. Hiawatha, Jackson recognizes, actively joins the American campaign to disappear native cultures by appealing to chronicle genocide passively as a fait accompli, and it thus participates in the same narrative ofVanishing Americans that Lora Romero identifies while discussing James Fenimore Coopers work in her Home Fronts: Nineteenth-Century Domesticity and Its Critics. 10 For recent discussions of these claims of plagiarism, see Virginia Jacksons Poe, Longfellow, and the Institution of Poetry, Kent P. Ljungquists The 'Little War' and Longfellow's Dilemma: New Documents in the Plagiarism Controversy of 1845, Meredith McGills Poe, Literary Nationalism, and Authorial Identity, and Edward J. Piacentinos. The Poe-Longfellow Plagiarism Controversy: A New Critical Notice in The Southern Chronicle. 11 The process of feminization that both Santayana and Brooks identify in mid-to-late nineteenth-century American culture is precisely the type of feminization that Ann Douglas makes the subject of her famous Feminization of American Culture. Although I feel that Douglass text bears no real explication here, I do find it interesting to see the ways that her argument extends the critical efforts of early twentieth-century male critics who were explicitly afraid of, and worked against, the power of femininity in American (and American male) culture. 12 Brookss dismissal of Longfellow in the texts that I am discussing here is powerful in its own right, but it is important to note that much of Brookss critique of Longfellow came to be reprinted in works that were published later in the twentieth century, keeping his interpretation of Longfellow in circulation long after Brookss initial texts had gone out of print. The particular passage that I quote here is part of a larger idea that Brooks republishes verbatim in Our Literary Heritage: A Pictorial History of the Writer in America, which he published with Otto Bettman in 1956, fully twenty years after he initially offered the sentiment in The Flowering of New England. The larger passage that makes it into the later work reads like this: In later days, when other

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109 fashions came, when the great wheel of time had passed beyond them, one saw these poems in another light. They seemed to lack finality and distinction, whether in thought or phrase. But no one could quite forget their dreamy music, their shadowy languor, their melodious charm, their burden of youthful nostalgia (Flowering 168). 13 Muir began publishing in these journals in 1890, and continued to do so until his death, and the Yosemite, General Grant, and Sequoia national parks were created in the same year. Muir and Johnson founded the Sierra Club in 1892, Pinchot became the director of the Division of Forestry in 1898 and would hold the post under presidents McKinley and Roosevelt before resigning from Tafts administration in 1910. The Audubon society was formed in 1905 and Muirs battle for the Hetch Hetchy began in 1909; it continued until 1913, when the construction of the Hetch Hetchy Dam was approved by Congress. Muir died the next year, in 1914. These events are discussed in virtually every history of environmentalism. Although the Muir-Pinchot debates, which I am focusing on with this list, only represent one form of environmentalism (that which focuses on the preservation of wild spaces), it stands out as one of the most public environmental debates of the early twentieth century. Muirs battle to save Hetch Hetchy gripped national print media in a way that would only be matched fifty years later in the controversy surrounding Rachel Carsons Silent Spring. For more about these events, see Foxs The American Conservation Movement, Gottliebs Forcing the Spring, Hayss Conservation and the Gospel of Efficiency, Nashs Wilderness and the American Mind and Readings in Conservation History, Shabecoffs A Fierce Green Fire, and Worsters American Environmentalism. For particularly insightful treatments of the Hetch Hetchy debate, specifically see Fox and Nashs Wilderness and the American Mind. 14 While I am interested in the ways that Whitman himself engaged the natural world, I cannot fully engage this subject in this chaptereven in this book. My concern here is primarily with what Whitman became in Brooks critical rendering. For one of the first arguments to make an explicitly ecocritical investigation into Whitmans work, however, see M. Jimmie Killingsworths Walt Whitman and the Earth: A Study in Ecopoetics. 15 In The Genteel Tradition in American Philosophy, Santayana declares that egocentrism and anthropocentrism are two of the primary flaws of the genteel tradition. In his own words, Santayana writes that Americas genteel systems are egotistical; directly or indirectly they are anthropocentric, and inspired by the conceited notion that man, or human reason, or the human distinction between good and evil, is the center and pivot of the universe (64). It is this very manifestation of genteel ideology that prevents Santayana from declaring Emerson a writer of the first rank; Emersons love and respect for nature is perverted in Santayanas opinionNature . is precious because it is his own work, a mirror in which he looks at himself and says (like a poet relishing his own verses), What a genius I am! Who would have thought there was such stuff in me? (53). In a passage that has made him famous amongst Deep Ecologists, Santayana argues that the only real cure for American gentility is unmediated contact with the natural world:

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110 [Anthropocentrism and Egocentrism are] what the mountains and the woods should make you at last ashamed to assert. From what, indeed, does the society of nature liberate you, that you find it so sweet . it is the yoke of this genteel tradition itself, your tyrant from the cradle to the grave, that these primeval solitudes lift from your shoulders. They suspend your forced sense of your own importance not merely as individuals, but even as men. They allow you, in one happy moment, at once to play and to worship, to take yourselves simply, humbly, for what you are, and to salute the wild, indifferent, noncensorious infinity of nature (62-64) When I claim that Longfellows environmental vision resisted anthropo-and-egocentrism, I am specifically referring to Evangeline and The Song of Hiawatha, which, with the occasional moment when nature darkens with Evangelines mood, generally do not project human problems or motivations onto the natural world.

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CHAPTER 5 WILLA CATHER AND JOHN STEINBECK, ENVIRONMENTAL SCHIZOPHRENIA AND MONSTROUS ECOLOGY Willa Cather and John Steinbeck were not environmental activists. But they could have been. 1 More than any other authors who thought of themselves as participants in American literary tradition during the early twentieth century, Cather and Steinbeck were equipped to register environmental change in the terms of ecological science, and their novels do indeed recognize it on regional, national, and international scales. 2 Cather witnessed the progressive conservation movement from within a magazine industry that participated in the conservation movement as well as the eras more generalized spirit of activism and reform, and Steinbeck began his writing career in the wake of this conservation movement. Rather than articulating environmentalist positions that went beyond the radical ambivalence that they felt for the general trajectory of American culture, both Cather and Steinbeck navigated literary and cultural situations that made any such plan of environmental politics impossible. By the early twentieth century, it had become impossible to pursue such a course and remain within the field of the literary, and as the twentieth century progressed radicalism of any sort would bear increasingly severe penalties in the United States as the twentieth century progressed. 3 Rather than articulating a new relationship between literature and the environment, as they might have in slightly different circumstances, the writings of both Willa Cather and John 111

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112 Steinbeck capture a tense environmental schizophrenia that is controlled by the environmental legacy of nineteenth-century American literatureabstract notions of nature, skyward environmental gazes, and metonyms of environmental healthand the dangers that they believed would have accompanied environmental radicalism in the early-to-mid twentieth century. The Progressive Conservation Movement, The Hetch Hetchy Debate, and Cather in New York City Since Susan Rosowkis 1995 Willa Cathers Ecology of Place, it has become common knowledge among Cather scholars that the author was deeply interested in ecological science; that she went to the University of Nebraska planning to become a great anatomist or a brilliant naturalist at a moment when the university was dominated by the personality of the pioneering ecologist Charles Besey; and that F. E. Clements, another extremely influential ecologist, was her classmate and friend at the university (37). 4 Joseph Urgo has advanced Rosowskis efforts by juxtaposing Cathers career with the events of the National Parks Movement and arguing that My ntonia converts the spirit of the conservation movement into an aesthetic projection of the will to preserve (51). Rosowski and Urgo establish Cathers interest in the science of ecology and situate her historically in a particular conservationist moment, but by limiting the focus of their essays to ecological science and the creation of national parks they miss both the tension of the early twentieth century environmental debates and Cathers nearness to them. Even before Longfellows death in 1882, the environmental anxiety that he had managed to control in Evangeline had been expressed in George Perkins Marshs 1864 Man and Nature (the first systematic critique of American land use) and had inspired

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113 governmental intervention into the state of the nations nature: in 1864 the Congress ceded the Yosemite Valley to the State of California as a public park, in 1872 Congress created Yellowstone National Park, and in 1872 the Division of Forestry was created within the Department of Agriculture to help manage the nations suddenly ephemeral resources. The forty years after Longfellows death witnessed the progressive conservation movement and a tremendous acceleration of conservation measures: the federal government alone (not to mention the actions of state governments) created 20 national parks and 24 national monuments in addition to the 53 wildlife refuges that Theodore Roosevelt created through the use of executive orders. 5 As helpful as they are as historical markers, the creations of parks, monuments, and refuges cannot capture the degree to which conservation polarized public opinion during the first decades of the twentieth century. Although the history of conservation rarely overlaps with traditional literary history, the most dramatic and well publicized event of the progressive conservation movement John Muirs battle to save Yellowstones Hetch Hetchy from being dammed and converted into a reservoir for the city of San Franciscooccurred in close proximity to Willa Cather. When he began his conflict to save the valley, Muir had been publishing in the nations major periodicals since the 1870s. He had published in Scribners Monthly, The Century, The Atlantic Monthly, The Overland Monthly, Harpers Magazine, and The Overlook. 6 Between 1901 and 1914, Muir published four long prose works with Houghton Mifflin, the eras pre-immanent publisher, and after his death Houghton would publish four additional volumes of his work in addition to a collection of letters and a biography. 7 During his campaign to save the Hetch Hetchy, Muirs most steadfast allies were Lyman Abbott, editor of the

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114 Overlook, and Robert Underwood Johnson, associate editor of the more influential Century, but his supporters also included Charles Eliot, Frederick Law Olmstead, Jr., Ethan Hitchcock, Enos Mills, the novelist Ellen Glasgow, the journalist Henry Watterson, and Henry Fairfield Osborn (Fox 143). 8 Before the Hetch Hetchy argument was finally closed, moreover, The Outlook, Nation, Independent, Worlds Work, Colliers, the New York Times, Tribune, and World, and a hundred or so other newspapers and magazines opposed the project (Fox 145). When Muir committed himself to resisting the Hetch Hetchy project in 1907, Cather had already been working as an editor at McClures magazine in New York City for a year, and in 1908 she became the magazines managing editora position she would hold until 1912, one year before Congress and Woodrow Wilson passed legislation to permit the flooding of the valley. During the years of the Hetch Hetchy debate, McClures published a vitriolic condemnations of the nations misuse of natural resources (Rudolph Cronaus A Continent Despoiled in April of 1908) and a laudatory biography of Gifford Pinchot (Will C. Barness Gifford Pinchot, Forester), but it never directly engaged the Hetch Hetchy debate in the manner of The Century or the New York newspapers. Before, during, and after the Hetch Hetchy conflict, however, Cather published her writing in the same venues that published Muir and supported his Hetch Hetchy campaign. Her writings appeared in The Century, The Overland Monthly, Colliers, and Scribners and her first four novelsAlexanders Bridge (1912), O Pioneers! (1913), The Song of the Lark (1915), and My ntonia (1918)were published, like nearly all of Muirs book-length works, by Houghton Mifflin.

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115 Environmental Desire and Environmental Schizophrenia When Longfellow registered a fissure in the idea of an immutable and permanent North American nature, he wrote well before the furor of the progressive conservation movement, and the loss of nature mattered most to him, it seems, for the implications that it held for his particular vision of American literature. By the time that Cather began her writing career, however, environmental loss had accelerated and become a national issue that would have been particularly difficult to ignore for anyone who had Cathers ecological sensibilities, her central position in the same New York magazine industry that had taken up the cause of progressive conservation, and her interest in writing novels that she imagined to have grown out of the long grasses of the prairies. Despite being uniquely equipped and positioned to become an environmental activist, however, Cather rejected the type of social activism, or muckraking, that she had been a part of at McClures. M. Catherine Downs has argued that Cather was deeply engaged in her journalistic work and that she even participated in the magazines muckraking tradition when she re-wrote Georgine Milmines The Life of Mary Baker G. Eddy for McClures, but it is difficult to overturn James Woodresss longstanding claim that Cather had no interest in muckraking, found social reformers very dull people, [and] took the dimmest possible view of literature that had a message (Life and Art 123). 9 In several essays, Cather clearly states that the novel should not become the vehicle for social agendas and that she had lost her zeal for muckraking. In her 1936 essay, Escapism, for instance, she mocks the current sentiment that the novelists first concern should be to cry out against social injustice and confesses that when I first lived in New York and was working on the editorial staff of a magazine, I became disillusioned about social workers and reformers (970). It was not just the social

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116 workers that lost their luster for Cather, but the entire mission of social activism. If she ever had any real interest in reform movements (and Woodress is adamant in Willa Cather: Her Life and Art that she did not), it clearly had no place in her vision of literature. In her literary credo, The Novel Dmeubl, which also appeared in 1936 (as an essay in Not Under Forty), Cather postulates, after all, that If the novel is a form of imaginative art, it cannot be at the same time a vivid and brilliant form of journalism (836). 10 By abandoning social activism in favor of a de-politicized literature, Cather simultaneously abandoned the sphere of womens writing (which had been associated with social activism throughout the nineteenth centurys abolition, temperance, womens suffrage, and urban reform movements) and dove into the masculine tradition that had been moving in a steadily apolitical direction since at least the mid-nineteenth century. It was an assault on the male literary institution and a function of her particular literary feminism, but her rejection of social activism largely precluded any overt political confrontation with the processes of environmental destruction that were rapidly changing the very places that she was using to ground her novels. Both O Pioneers! and My ntonia admit widespread environmental change, but, with activism out of the question, they defuse the potentially revolutionary force of such change. Before the mid-1990s, when the sudden appearance of ecocriticism inspired a second look at it, Cathers treatment of the environment was tacitly dismissed as a function of the nostalgia that Granville Hicks famously identified in Cathers work in his 1933 essay, The Case against Willa Cather. In this essay, Hicks writes that Miss Cather . is concerned with a past era, and she looks back on it with nostalgia; she

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117 has simply projected her own desires into the past: her longing for heroism, her admiration for natural beauty, her desireintensified by pre-occupation with doubt and despairfor the security of an unquestioned faith (139, 145). 11 Cathers nostalgia, though is not so simple. As Sarah Wilson has recently argued in the context of The Professors House, Cather was aware of and manipulated the nostalgia that runs through her texts. She understood that a colonial gaze was building new national histories out of Native American cultures in the Southwest, she knew that nostalgia was playing a critical role in this process of national myth-making, and she believedas Tom Outlands Story attests, that nostalgia was ultimately an evasion of social and intellectual responsibility that was profoundly unsuited . to the brokering of a flexible and inclusive community (Wilson 578, 586, 584). When Granville Hicks bristled at the nostalgia he sensed in Cathers admiration of natural beauty, he was writing primarily of O Pioneers! and My ntonia, but the environmental nostalgia that he recognizes in these texts is just as controlled as that which Wilson identifies in The Professors House. In O Pioneers!, two manifestations of nostalgia battle against each other. Carl Linstrums backward gaze recalls the prairie as it was before it was developed into an agricultural grid; his gaze forgets all of the privation that drives his family to move back to the city, but it recalls the original glory of the prairie and illuminates the history of a place that has become an agricultural grid. Against Carls oddly historicizing nostalgia, Alexandra Bergson poses a nostalgia for the present. Especially during the first two major sections of the novelwhich record her big dream of large-scale agricultural success and the fulfillment of this dream, Alexandra views the current moment as the fulfillment of a historical process, imagines the present

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118 itself as a pivotal moment in history, and erases the ugly imperialism that contributed to it. 12 The nostalgia that runs throughout My ntonia is not polyvocal as it is in O Pioneers, but it is no less complex. Every time that Jim Burden looks backward to his boyhood and youth on the glorious prairie, his gaze is forced through the filter of Cathers introduction to the novel, which casts Jim first and foremost as a romantic and exposes his entire narrativeand its nostalgiato scrutiny. Cather neither affirms nor denies the environmental nostalgia that her characters display in O Pioneers and My ntonia; she seems, rather, to simply observe it. This environmental nostalgia, though, is symptomatic of a much more pervasive environmental schizophrenia that courses through these two novels in ways that approximate the operation of Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattaris schizophrenic mind. O Pioneers! and My ntonia are crisscrossed with currents of environmental yearning and lamentation that are held in check by perpetual returns to an Emersonian relationship to the environment that maintains its faith in natures permanence and purity through metonyms of environmental health and a tightly controlled environmental gaze. For Deleuze and Guattari, the schizophrenic is the product of, and a threat to, capitalism. S/he is deaf, mute, and catatonic, withdrawn into a fractured self through which desire flows freely and unchecked, and capable of sliding through space and time to everywhere something real has been and will be produced (Anti-Oedipus 87). It is only through the repression of both individual and social desire, after all, that capitalism commodifies the self, and schizophrenias ability to unleash all that is repressedeven to remove both mind and body from processes of capitalist productionholds the power to unhinge the capitalist order. Because desire does not want revolution, it is

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119 revolutionary in its own right, capitalism controls, confines, and imprisons schizophreniaand its coursing flows of unchecked desireto preserve itself (116). The environmental nostalgia that operates in Cathers novels is a function of such a schizophrenia; it allows characters to move through space and time to locate real or original environments irregardless of historical circumstances, and it allows Cather to momentarily fulfill desires for contact with pure and/or original environments that undercut the narratives of unapologetic progress that are promoted by Alexandra Bergson and Jim Burden. Nostalgia keeps such space available regardless of any actual environmental loss, but as much as Cathers characters fulfill their environmental longings by looking backward they also restrict their flows of environmental desire by relying upon metonyms of environmental health and tightly controlling their environmental gazes. Cathers Canonically Modulated Environmental Schizophrenia In O Pioneers! and My ntonia, the Nebraska prairie is both stultifying and magnificent. It breaks Carl Linstrum in O Pioneers! and essentially kills John Bergson; it is bewildering . depressing and disheartening . an enigma unlike any other land (13). It is a site of extreme privation for European immigrants and it blots out Jim Burdens sense of himself in My ntonia just as it had blotted out Cathers own identity as a child. 13 At the same time, however, the prairie in O Pioneers! is the great fact, a powerful place that wishes to preserve its own fierce strength, its peculiar savage kind of beauty, its uninterrupted mournfulness; in My ntonia Jim Burdens first glorious autumn is glorious because the prairie is wild, free, fenceless, and full of motion (O Pioneers! 10, ). 14 In each of the novels the original uniqueness and power of the prairieits essenceis bound up in its most distinct single featureits native grasses.

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120 O Pioneers! and My ntonia are both driven steadily away from this dually-interpreted original environment by characters that play critical roles in converting it into a highly ordered agricultural space. Alexandra Bergson and Jim Burden both privilege optimistic environmental narratives that emphasize the glory of the prairies transformation. In each of the novels, however, Cather punctures the grand narratives of national and agricultural progress to reveal an undercurrent of environmental longing that privileges a benevolent vision of the prairie during an earlier moment. These ruptures, which are provided in large part by Carl Linstrum in O Pioneers! and Cathers narratorial interventions in My ntonia, insert unwieldy flows of environmental desire into Jim and Alexandras master narratives that are ultimately controlled through various forms of Emersonian environmental misdirection. From the beginning of O Pioneers!, Cather establishes that Alexandra Bergson is a visionaryshe first appears as a girl who seemed to be looking with . anguished perplexity into the future (9). As Alexandra matures, she accomplishes her fathers mission of forging a highly ordered space out of the wide expanse of the indomitable prairie, and she manages the big chance of land speculation when other settlers fail (41). All in all, watching her big dreams act themselves out on the prairie is an exhilarating experience for Alexandra. The prairieespecially when she sees it within the scope of the plan she has for itseems beautiful to her, rich and strong and glorious (41). So glorious, in fact, that it brings her to tears. 15 Carl Linstrum exists in the first part of O Pioneers! as a bitter and sullen boy whose family is failing at frontier life, and he ultimately exits the narrative when his family abandons its homestead and returns to St. Louis (10). He reappears at the

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121 beginning of Part II, however, when the scene is sixteen years since John Bergson died, and he returns to a place that is radically different. The shaggy coat of the prairie, Cather writes, has vanished forever. From the Norwegian graveyard one looks out over a vast checkerboard, marked off in squares of wheat and corn; light and dark, dark and light. Telephone wires hum along the white roads, which always run at right angles. (49) As soon as Carl finds himself alone with Alexandra he punctures her sense of triumph by stating that he prefers the original, untamed prairie to the new prairie of Alexandras own creation. In what could be construed as an expression of a very simplistic nostalgia, Carl says, I think I liked the old Lou and Oscar better, and they probably feel the same about me. I even, if you can keep a secret,Carl leaned forward and touched her arm, smiling,I even think I liked the old country better. This is all very splendid in its way, but there was something about this country when it was a wild old beast that has haunted me all these years. Now, when I come back to all this milk and honey, I feel like the old German song, Wo bist du, wo bist du, mein geliebtest Land?Do you ever feel like that, I wonder? (75). Jims question is nostalgic insofar as it looks back to an idealized pastits retrospective view of the prairie erases the distinctly negative view of the place that he himself held early in the novelbut it also gives expression to an environmental anxiety that Alexandra seems to sense but evade throughout the novel. When she wants to see the inexorable perpetuity of the natural world that used to be written all over the face of the prairie, Alexandra casts her gaze skyward; when she wants to re-experience the former glory of the place, she looks toward the bits of native prairie grass that endure within the fences of cemeteries; and when she is consolidating her power as a landowner she incorporates Crazy Ivar, the only figure in the novel who

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122 lives in total ecological harmony with the prairie, into her own family as if his assimilation grants her operation a sense of ecological benevolence. When Carl asks his pivotal question, Alexandra immediately shifts the discussion from the terrestrial nature that Carl recognizes as fundamentallyand unfortunatelychanged to a nature that is construed as abstract and astronomical. In response to Carls question about changes on the face of the prairie, Alexandra turns her attention to the unchanging heavens and directs Carls gaze to the place where a fragment of original prairie remains: Alexandra, Cather writes, paused and looked thoughtfully at the stars before immediately diverting Carls attention to the old Norwegian graveyard that reappears throughout the novel as a final preserve of native prairie grass (75). By the time that Carl asked Alexandra if she missed the old prairie, she had already learned to depend on an averted and restricted environmental gaze to repress any potentially subversive environmental desire from undercutting the narrative of success that she was constructing for herself. Relatively early in O Pioneers!, after the mildly traumatic moment in which Alexandra tells her brothers that she plans to expand the familys landholdings, Alexandra re-centers herself against the vision of unchanging nature that she finds in the night sky. After her talk with her brothers, she stands against a windmill looking at the stars which glittered so keenly through the frosty autumn air, and thinking of their vastness and distance, and of their ordered march (45). In this recumbent position, with her eyes focused above the space that is capable of being entirely transformed and with her mind on vastness, distance, and cosmic order, Cather writes that it fortified her to reflect upon the great operations of nature, and when she thought of the law that lay behind them, she felt a sense of personal security (45).

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123 Similarly, the graveyard that Cather recalls after Carls question had always existed within the scope of the novel as a veritable museum of native prairie biota. From the opening chapter of the novel it is a place where the native endures, where the grass had, indeed, grown back over everything, shaggy and red, hiding even the wire fence (10). Jim Burden is at least as involved as Alexandra Bergson in drastic environmental change, and he deals with such change just as she doesby looking away from it and fixing his gaze on what are essentially taxidermied remains of a formerly wild, free, glorious, and clearly exceptional place. Jim Burden, however, gets a much different treatment from Cather. While both Alexandra and Jim contain multiple orientations toward the environment and mechanisms to control them, in My ntonia Cather works to expose everything Jim does as dubiousincluding the relationship to the environment that he creates for himself. Cather quickly undermines Jims narrative before she ever turns the novel over to him. In the novels introduction, as it appeared in the original version of 1918, the female narrator (presumably Cather herself) who will ultimately present Jims narrative substantially as he brought it to me presents Jim as a conniving social climber with a stilted worldview and an explicitly contradictory relationship with the natural world (6). 16 This narrator states quite frankly that Jims career was suddenly advanced by a brilliant marriage, that she rarely spends time with Jim because I do not like his wife, and (in a claim that drastically undercuts his veracity as a narrator) that Jim possess a naturally romantic and ardent disposition (3). On the heels of these serious blows to Jims reliability, Cathers female narrator specifically identifies Jims relationship with the

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124 environment as a point of conflict. Jim loves with a personal passion the great country of his youth, but he is legal counsel for one of the great Western railways that runs and branches through the very place that he loves (4, 3). Jim has a great faith in and knowledge of this land, and he has played an important part in its development, but his part has moved in particularly exploitative directions: He is always able to raise capital for new enterprises in Wyoming or Montana, and has helped young men out there to do remarkable things in mines and timber and oil. If a young man with an idea can once get Jim Burdens attention, can manage to accompany him when he goes off into the wilds hunting for lost parks or exploring new canyons, then the money which means action is usually forthcoming. (4, emphasis added) Joseph Urgo, who claims that Jim Burden is a preservationist, grounds his argument on this passage. In Urgos words, Jim Burden is emblematic of the conservation debate. He is both a legal counsel for the railroads (and so he profits from development), and he is a preservationist, someone you can count on for funding big Western dreams of uncovering secret canyons and lost parks (50). Urgo makes his central claim, however, without acknowledging that Jims grand plans involve mines, timber, and oil and that Jim funds young men who want to take action in the lost parks . .[and] new canyons. Although the word is vague, this action seems much more likely to involve the extraction of natural resources rather than any sort of preservation (or conservation, for that matter), especially considering Jims lines of work. All things considered, Jims relationship to the natural world is much less preservationist (or conservationist or environmentalist) than Urgo admits. The more compelling facet of Jims relationship with the natural world concerns how he maintains his own multiplicitieshow he can continue to love the land of his childhood and continue to be involved in its erasure.

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125 The burden of environmental guilt that Jim Burden faces in his narrative is more intense than the one that Cather created in O Pioneers!. In the earlier novel, the prairie may have been glorious but in the early years it was also a bitter place that killed or broke vigorous men. In My ntonia, however, the prairie lacks the menacing half of this binary. Surely, Mr. Shimerda dies and the prairie has collected a wide variety of broken individuals (Pavel and Peter, for instance, and all of the Working Girls whose lives have been made difficult by conditions on the prairie), but very little blame falls on the prairie itself. To Jim Burden, the prairie of his boyhood is a wholly magnificenteven magicalplace. Even if Jim remembers his first encounter with the prairie as an encounter with profound nothingness against which he felt erased, blotted out, from the beginning he paints the prairie as the mother of a nation (13). In coming into the prairie he found himself enveloped in a black nothing that was, nevertheless, the material out of which countries are made (12). As he moves away from his initial definition of the prairie as a generative nothingness, Jim sings a song of its glories until he elevates it to the sublime. He revels in its openness and lack of fencing: all the years that have passed have not dimmed my memory of that first glorious autumn [. .] there were no fences in those days, and I could choose my own way over the grass uplands, trusting my pony to get me home again (27). He fixes his environmental gaze upon the prairies native grasses, which he argues are the locus of the prairies incredible motion and vivacity: as I looked about me I felt that the grass was the country, as the water is the sea. The red of the grass made all the great prairie the color of wine-stains, or of certain seaweeds when they are first washed up. And there was so much motion in it; the whole country seemed, somehow, to be

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126 running (18). In Jims most enraptured moment, the wild fenceless prairie of his boyhood, with all of its native grasses, becomes a sublime, transfigurative space of heroic and Biblical scale: All those fall afternoons were the same, but I never got used to them. As far as we could see, the miles of copper-red grass were drenched in sunlight that was stronger and fiercer than at any other time of the day . the whole prairie was like the bush that burned with the fire and was not consumed. That hour always had the exultation of victory, of triumphant ending, like a heros deathheroes who died young and gloriously. It was a sudden transfiguration, a lifting-up of day. How many an afternoon ntonia and I have trailed along the prairie under that magnificence! And always two long black shadows flitted before us or followed after, dark spots on the ruddy grass. (35) For Jim, the death of the prairie as he found it in his boyhood would amount to the loss of the pure and original, the loss of the exceptional, and the loss of a source of the sublime. His reaction to this incredible source of loss that he has helped precipitate, like Alexandras, is to simply look away. Having already established that the prairies grasses metonymically represent a pure and vibrant prairie, Jim fixes his environmental gaze on the scant patches of prairie grass that remain, and when he comes face to face with the colossal changes that have taken place on the prairie he manipulates visual perspective to further mediate the environmental losses that he willingly admits. As time passes and the native prairie recedes before the plow, Jim and ntonia repeatedly and instinctively retreat to the one place where the native grasses remainthe grave of ntonias father, Mr. Shimerda (239). Although the place is clearly significant because it is tied to Mr. Shimerda and his terribly traumatic death, it is also magnetic because it contains some of the last remaining prairie grass that Jim represents as the soul of the original prairie. The gravesite is a persistent little island with a sagging wire fence around it that contains the tall red grass that was never mowed

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127 (94). 17 This place and its metonymic grass, Jim explicitly points out, continued unchanged when the open-grazing days were over, and the red grass had been ploughed under until it had almost disappeared from the prairie; when all the fields were under fence, and the roads no longer ran about like wild things, but followed the surveyed section-lines (94). This gravesite is a monument to Mr. Shimerda and to the prairie itself, but Jim does not recognize it as a monument. For him, it is the original prairie still alive, and its perpetual existence allows him to extend the life of the highly significant original prairie even beyond its effectual end. While Jim usually enforces a constricted environmental gaze that focuses strictly on Mr. Shimerdas metonymic grass, he is equally capable of widening the lens and recasting the prairie as a panorama of expansionist triumph that obliterates environmental loss from a different direction. Near the end of O Pioneers!, Jim adopts this panoramic gaze to praise the new, thoroughly controlled, thoroughly agricultural prairie. During a trip to the high country, to visit Widow Steavens, he reports that The wheat harvest was over, and here and there along the horizon I could see black puffs of smoke from the steam thrashing-machines. The old pasture land was now being broken up into wheatfields and cornfields, the red grass was disappearing, and the whole face of the country was changing. (229) For Jim, the pastures, the harvest, and the new wooden homes that he also witnesses all mean happy children, contented women, and men who saw their lives coming to a fortunate issue, and in aggregate the changes seemed beautiful and harmonious . it was like watching the growth of a great man or of a great idea (229). This statement, Jims only unequivocal praise of prairie development in the entire novel, is remarkable for the circumstances it involves and for what it does not say. Jim only experiences this moment of enthusiasm when he is in a high country that grants

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128 him a particular perspective. From this vantage point, the entire place loses its particularity and becomes more like an Albert Bierstadt panorama than the actual place that Jim loves, or like the idea of American progressan idea, of course, that rarely admits the costs it entails. And it is only from this perspective that the life of the prairie cannot be measured in the motion of its rapidly disappearing grasses. On that particular highland, with the prairie spread out across his horizon, the situation was right for Jim to find the new prairie beautiful and harmonious, or for his own personal interests (his love for the place as it was) to become secondary to a grand, panoramic idea of progress. It is not insignificant, though, that after his triumphalist vision he repeatedly moves in the opposite directionaway from the heights, where change is visible on an overwhelming scale and back to ground level where draws, gullies, and fences limit the line of sight to remaining bits of native prairie. Between the mountaintop scene and the end of the novel, Jim encloses himself in ntonias homestead, with its concentric rings of trees and hedges, where he experiences the type of domesticity he imagined in his highland vision, and immediately before his final departure from Black Hawk he wanders away from the train station into the pastures, draws, and hillocks where the land was so rough that it had never been ploughed up, and the long red grass of early times still grew shaggy (272). Even after helping create a new prairie, seeing it, and registering the loss of the original environment, Jim finds a waysomewhere behind the train stationto find a bit of the old road, which used to run like a wild thing across the open prairie, the same prairie that he says used to run like a wild thing itself. Mike Fischer has recognized that this old road recalls the road for which he works as a lawyer, that Great Western Railway that runs and branches

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129 through Nebraska, leaving scars far more permanentand seriousthan those Jim can trace to wagon ruts, but as long as this patch of old road exists, just as patches of native prairie grass continue to exist, Jim will be able to believe that the prairie of his boyhood still exists and he will be able to maintain his contradictory stance toward the environment will always be able to control the emotion that he feels for the environment (38). Steinbeck, Ecology, and American Culture More than any other factor, the male literary traditionand its established modes of mediating environmental lossshaped Willa Cathers evasion of environmental crisis, but she still understood, as John Steinbeck would demonstrate later in the century, that environmental activism also faced tremendous opposition from a hostile American culture. This, after all, is the moral of Crazy Ivars story in O Pioneers!. Ivar knows that he is different because he practices a strange (ecocentric) Norwegian religion, but it is not his religion so much as it is his unusual symbiotic relationship with nature that earns him his Crazy moniker. Alexandra treats Ivars unorthodox relationship with the natural world as a commodity worth exploiting, but for her brothers Lou and Oscar (who often speak for the larger community) Ivar is a pariah largely because he can live without defiling the face of nature any more than the coyote that had lived there before him had done (24). Because of his unique relationship with nature, Ivar is faced on every side with incarceration. He fears being sent to an asylum that they have built . for people who are different (and it is significant that the word is different rather than something like insane or crazy), but even when he is ultimately incorporated into Alexandras household he simply experiences a more pleasant variety of institutionalization(60). As a part of Alexandras farm, he functions semiotically as an emblem of environmental

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130 benevolence and understandingin his mere existence he keeps his old ecologically symbiotic mode of life alive and stands as a constant resource of unorthodox agricultural advice for Alexandra. John Steinbeck was born in 1901, practically in the middle of the progressive conservation movement that would erupt around Cather in New York City several years later, and his connection with ecologywhile still largely informalwould be composed of at least as many strands as Cathers. For all this, Steinbeck would be no more successful than Cather in articulating an unequivocal environmentalist position. While Cathers work demonstrates how the American literary tradition could control the flow of environmental desire, Steinbecks writing focuses more intensely upon the Crazy Ivars problem: the precarious position of the environmental radical in the United States In the summer of 1923, with his sister, Steinbeck took a course in marine biology at the Hopkins Marine Station in Pacific Grove, California. His instructor was Charles Vincent Taylor, who was deeply influenced by William Emerson Ritter, the influential zoologist, marine biologist, and founder of the Scripps Institute of Oceanography who promoted an idea of ecological interconnection, or superorganicism, that captured Steinbecks imagination. In 1930, he befriended the marine biologist Ed Ricketts, who in turn exposed him to another important early ecologistW. C. Allee, the specialist in animal group behavior, whose influence Ricketts had felt as a zoology student at the University of Chicago. 18 Steinbeck was an intellectual heir, twice-removed on each side, of two incredibly important twentieth century ecologists. His exposure to these strains of ecological thought allowed him to imagine humans as members of a larger biological community,

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131 and it allowed him to register environmental loss in scientific terms. It enabled him to create a series of characters, including Joseph Wayne in To a God Unknown (1933), Muley Graves in The Grapes of Wrath (1939), and Doc in both Cannery Row (1945) and its sequel, Sweet Thursday (1954), who feel a powerful transcendental connection to the natural world, and it even allowed him to participate in the ecological expedition that he records in the Sea of Cortez (1941). 19 Steinbeck is unique among U. S. authors because he recognized the scope, scale, and implications of twentieth century environmental destruction better than any other major American author before Edward Abbey, who published his environmentalist polemic, Desert Solitaire, in 1968, the year of Steinbecks death. This awareness of environmental crisis is most explicit in Steinbecks late nonfiction works, Travels with Charley (1962) and America and Americans (1966). In Travels with Charley he is frustrated by chemical wastes in the rivers, metal wastes everywhere, and atomic wastes buried deep in the earth or sunk in the sea, he argues that the pervasive and felicitous waste that he sees in the U. S. is a particularly American phenomenon, and he emphasizes the foolishnes of all this waste (26). As insightful as they are, Steinbecks comments about the state of the environment in Travels with Charley are fleeing. In America and Americans, though, he rereads the whole of United States history in terms of environmental catastrophe and recognizes that the Untied States operates on an outmoded and unsustainable system of environmental ethics: I have often wondered at the savagery and thoughtlessness with which our early settlers approached this rich continent. They came at it as though it were an enemy, which of course it was. The burned the forests and changed the rainfall, they swept the buffalo from the plains, blasted the streams, set fire to the grass, and ran a reckless scythe through the virgin and noble timber. . This tendency toward irresponsibility persists in very many of us today; our rivers are poisoned

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132 by reckless dumping of sewage and toxic industrial wastes, the air of our cities is filthy and dangerous to breathe from the belching of uncontrolled products from combustion of coal, coke, oil, and gasoline. Our towns are girdled with wreckage and the debris of our toysour automobiles and our packaged pleasures. Through uninhibited spraying against one enemy we have destroyed the natural balances our survival requires. All these evils can and must be overcome if American and Americans are to survive; but many of us still conduct ourselves as our ancestors did, stealing from the future for our clear and present profit. (377) This polemic extends through five additional pages. It follows the westward wake of environmental destruction that accompanied U. S. expansion, describes the nineteenth century as environmentally merciless, and concludes that the atom bomb is the culmination of the American tradition of environmental recklessness (379). If Steinbeck had offered these observations and cultural critiques in isolation, no one would claim that he fell short of an unequivocal environmentalist position. As Hedgpeth, Timmerman, and Gladstein and Galdstein all point out, however, he constantly represses his pessimism with proclamations of faith in an American culture that he portrays as bumbling and mistake-prone but still essentially good-hearted. In the words of Joel Hedgpeh, Steinbeck is always apologizing for saying bad things and reassuring us that he still loves us all (Hedgpeth 306). The ultimate flaw in Steinbecks environmentalism, according to John Timmerman, is that he offers no specific program to rectify the U. S.s flawed environmental ethic, but the body of Steinbecks work suggests that there is a very distinct reason that his environmentalism went no further than it did (312). His environmentalist sympathies were held in check by an American culture that he regarded as hegemonic and particularly hostile to any type of radicalismincluding both ecological science and environmentalist activism. Anyone who stepped forward and delivered a strident environmental message, Steinbeck believed, would be assaulted with charges of

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133 monstrosity and threatened with a ceremonial murder that would reaffirm the nations environmentally exploitative status quo. Steinbeck and Monstrosity Monstrosity was central to Steinbecks understanding of American culture from the beginning of his career, and two of his early works of fiction, To a God Unknown (1933) and Of Mice and Men (1937) demonstrate that he understood the cultural history of monstrosity and its role as a regulatory device for American culture. A significant portion of To a God Unknown, for instance, focuses on the Renaissance belief that monstrous birth defects are caused by the wayward imaginations of expectant mothers. Throughout the novel, Rama, a mystical matriarch and duenna to a young, expectant mother named Elizabeth, speaks of children born with tails, with extra limbs, with mouths in the middle of their backs, and Elizabeth, accordingly, lives in fear of having experiences that will transform her unborn child into a monster (99). As much as he recognizes that it has a history, though, Steinbeck also understands that monstrosity is a cultural weapon. He knew, as several scholars have recently argued, that, monsters are . political beings who are chosen with deliberation to do quite specific narrative and social work (Ingebretsen 26). Monsters are used to map social edges and centers, they delineate and buttress the norms of behavior and belief understood to be matters of common sense, and when they are ceremonially murdered their deaths are always intended to strengthen a communal body (Ingebretsen 26). 20 Well before Steinbeck associated ecology and environmental activism with it, monstrosity functioned as a device for social regulation in Of Mice and Men. Lenny, the storys protagonist, bears physical marks of monstrosityhe possesses superhuman strength, works like a machine, and lacks normal human capacities for judgment and

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134 restraint, but he is most menacing to the ranch community as a threat to women and (along with his partner, George) to the communitys almost overdetermined heteronormativity. Lenny never intentionally harms anyone, but he does physically assaulteven killthe wife of the ranchs foreman. The incident enters the script of monstrosity, though, when the crime is immediately registered as an assault upon the purity and virtue of womanhood that requires immediate and fatal vengeance to restore the communitys expectations of normal human behavior and the sanctity of femininity. Beyond the incident with Curleys wife, which ultimately precipitates his death, Lenny is monstrous because he shares an exclusive homosocial relationship with George. Lenny and George are constantly called to answer for their unusual relationship throughout Steinbecks narrative, and the particular way that Lenny is ultimately killed is shaped by Georges love for his friend and his desire to remove from himself the mark of monstrosity that the relationship placed upon him. In an act that denies the larger community the curative public killing that would have reaffirmed its concepts of normalcy, deviance, and the consequences of deviance, George kills Lenny privately and thus proves to the public community that his bond with Lenny did not overstep the bounds of its unspoken codes of normal heterosexual male behavior. To a God Unknown and Of Mice and Men demonstrate just how well Steinbeck understood monstrosity as a historical phenomenon and a culturally regulative device. As his career progressed, though, monstrosity became a much larger problem. Beginning with The Grapes of Wrath, Steinbeck was no longer exclusively concerned with the insular communities that he engages in To A God Unknown, Tortilla Flat, and Of Mice

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135 and Men; his focus became national, and, accordingly, the community that wielded the deadly brand of monstrosity against all forms of radicalism became national as well. The Grapes of Wrath is a pivotal novel for Steinbeck because it marks the shift of his focus to the national scene, but it also announces the fundamental assessment of American culture that would endure throughout the rest of his career. Although it is a position that he often undercuts, this novel cringes at the scope and scale of American technocapitalism. The culture of progress that displaces the Joad family and their values of agrarianism, independence, and toughness is advanced by faceless conglomerates and by cyborg men who seem melded to their tank-like tractors. Everyone (including Tom Joad and Jim Casy) who exists outside of this new and menacing mainstream culture, moreover, is forced to live a precarious life on a cultural border that is vigilantly patrolled and violently defendedoften by very real political figuresagainst subversives and radicals. Outside of The Grapes of Wrath, Steinbecks nonfiction writings of the 1950s and 1960s contain his most pointed condemnations of American culture. In these pieces, Steinbeck offers his most strident arguments that American culture is a hegemonic construct that is tightly regulated by a group of leaders who are surely screwballs and resist any reform movement by deploying familiar charges of political monstrosity against any emergent source of radicalism (America and Americans 364). The stalking horror of the moment, Steinbeck writes, is Communism, with its thread of confiscation of private wealth, and Socialism, which implies that they might be forced to share their wealth with less fortunate citizens (A and A 364). In 1954, Steinbeck was

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136 so frustrated with the cultural situation of the United States that he declared, in an essay entitled I am a Revolutionary, that The so-called masses are more lumpen now than ever. Any semblance of the emergence of the individual is instantly crushed and the doctrine of party and state above everything has taken the place of the theory of liberated men. The victim of this savagely applied system is the individual. Individuality must be destroyed because it is dangerous to all reactionary plans because the individual is creative and creativeness outside the narrow pattern of the status quo cannot be tolerated. (90) Steinbecks Monstrous Ecology Steinbeck may have issued his most compact critique of American land ethics in Travels with Charley and America and Americans, but a much earlier text, The Log from the Sea of Cortez, offers the clearest vision of how his environmentalist impulses were controlled by his vision of a threatening American culture. The Log is the record of an ecological expedition that Steinbeck undertook with Ed Ricketts in 1940. It records the events of the expedition, but record-keeping is not is primary function. More than anything, it is an extended attempt to justify ecology to an American culture that is more of a lumpen mass and more likely to deploy monstrosity against a radical science than it is in any of Steinbecks writings outside of I am a Revolutionary. In the Log, Steinbeck establishes a fundamental critique of American culture that he transfers onto Mexicans and Native Americans throughout much of his narrative; he refuses to articulate the ecological and preservationist purpose of the expedition; and he ultimately illustrates exactly how he understood American culture to control ecological radicalism through the threat of monstrosity. Before he ever reaches Mexican watersin incidents that occur in Monterey as he tries to charter a boat and in San Diego as the expedition makes its final stop in a U. S. portSteinbeck mounts an implicit argument that American culture is deeply opposed to ecology and capable of extreme violence. He

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137 has tremendous trouble chartering a vessel because all of the charter boat captains in Monterey considered him and his shipmates suspicious, crazy, and ridiculous because any expedition that did not involve sardine fishing, much less an ecological exploration, was nonsense (7). When he finally reaches San Diego, he finds the place stockpiled with military equipment, overrun with robotic soldiers, and managed by military mind[s] who think neither about the massive power of their weapons nor the people who will be destroyed by them (35). Steinbeck writes that after the Western Flyer left San Diego, the great world dropped away very quickly. We lost the fear and fierceness and contagion of war and economic uncertainty (173). The narrative that he offers, however, tells quite another story. The rest of the text is haunted by Steinbecks experience in Monterey, by the images of war and violence that he took away from San Diego, and by the more general antipathy toward ecology that he sensed from mainstream U. S. culture. Long before Steinbeck reaches Mexico, in fact, he begins projecting his anxieties about the United States onto Mexico. He fears that he will encounter a repressive military regime that will consider the work we intended to do as suspicious because it would seem ridiculous to the military mind to travel fifteen hundred miles for the purpose of turning over rocks on the seashore and picking up small animals, very few of which were edible; and doing all this without shooting at anyone (23, emphasis added). Steinbeck had already been called ridiculous in Monterey, and he had already experienced a military mind in San Diego that, upon his return, would assess the value of the thousands of pickled animals that his crew had collected over the course of six weeks and 4,000 miles at five dollars (84).

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138 As soon as Steinbeck enters a Mexican port, he stops projecting the U. S. military mind onto Mexico, but in his first port-of-call, Cape San Lucas, he turns an interaction between Mexicans and cormorants into a drama about the relationship between ecology, radical politics, and the regulatory practices of a hegemonic cultureclearly issues that he brought with him from the United States. Steinbeck describes fishermen on the coast shooting cormorants that are dispersing baitfish that have been drawn conveniently close to the shore (for the fishermen) by a tuna cannerys discarded entrails and cuttings (48). In Steinbecks dramatization of this situation, the birds are disrupting an established situation: they are considered interlopers, radicals, subversive forces against the perfect and God-set balance on Cape San Lucas, and they are rightly slaughtered, as all radicals should be (48). At the same time, the fishermen become more than what they are: they are men who do not understand ecological principles, who cannot see beyond their economic self-interests to the larger, interconnected whole of the situation, and who become cultural Brahmins preserving the order of their world by murdering the deviant. It is a scene takes place in Mexico and involves Mexicans, but it deploys the same rhetoric that Steinbeck uses in his nonfiction to excoriate political screwballs and in his fiction to describe the precarious positions of his numerous outcasts that live on the fringes of society. As much as Steinbeck feared encountering a militaristic regime in Mexico, he dreaded the task of explaining his expedition to an underclass of Indians that he knew would be primarily concerned issues of subsistence. Before any biological collecting ever takes place, Steinbeck writes that we had known that sooner or later we must develop an explanation for what we were doing which would be short and convincing. It

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139 couldnt be the truth because that wouldnt be convincing at all . [so] we developed our story and stuck to it thereafter. We were collecting curios, we said (83). When the men finally begin their collecting, they do indeed hear the embarrassing question that they anticipated: what do you search for? (92). Steinbeck considers a range of answers but eventually settles on the prepared lie: We search for something that will seem like truth to us; we search for understanding. We search for that principle which keys us deeply into the pattern of all life; we search for the relations of things, one to another, as this young man searches for a warm light in his wifes eyes and that one for the hot warmth of fighting. These little boys and young men on the tide flat do not even know that they search for such things too. We say to them, we are looking for curios, for certain small animals. (92) While he is genuinely sensitive to their situations, even these Indians gradually point Steinbeck back to problems in the United States. Instead of thinking about how he could explain himself to the people in front of him, Steinbeck quickly asks a question that returns him to problems in the United States: How can you say to a people who are preoccupied with getting enough food and enough children that you have come to pick up useless little animals so that perhaps your world picture will be enlarged? (84). Out of context, this passage appears to speak directly to the Mexicans involved in the biological collecting, but two elements of this commentits nebulous appeal to a people and its emphasis on food and subsistencelink it to comments about conditions in the United States that Steinbeck offers ten pages earlier when he writes that Some time ago a Congress of honest men refused an appropriation of several hundreds of millions of dollars to feed our people, meaning by our people, of course, U. S. citizens (74). Subsistence, in Steinbecks mind, is a problem that is not exclusive to Mexico. He knows that the United States struggles to feed its own people and obliquely suggests that the

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140 problem of presenting ecology and environmentalism to audiences in the United States is at least as problematic as presenting these concepts to audiences in Mexico. Steinbeck never achieves any satisfactory answer to the purpose of the Gulf expedition and at the end of the Log ultimately abandons any attempt to explain its real value when he writes, in a tone of resignation, Here was no service to science, no naming of unknown animals, but ratherwe simply liked it. We liked it very much. The brown Indians and the gardens of the sea, and the beer and the work, they were all one thing and we were that one thing too (224). Despite Steinbecks inability to describe it, the voyage of the Western Flyer does seem to have a very distinct purpose, even if it is unspeakable. In the Logs introduction, Steinbeck writes that the intent of the voyage was to collect and preserve the animals of the littorala very succinct statement of intentbut he also reveals that simultaneous to their acts of preservation, Fifty miles away the Japanese shrimpboats [were] dredging with overlapping scoops, bringing up tons of shrimp, rapidly destroying the species so that it may never come back, and with the species destroying the ecological balance o the whole region (2, 3). The destructiveness of this shrimping fleet looms over the whole of the Log. It is important enough in Steinbecks recollection of the expedition to appear in his introduction but then it disappears only to resurface two hundred pages later as a large destructive machine . committing a true crime against nature and against the immediate welfare of Mexico and the eventual welfare of the whole human species (206). The positioning of the destructive Japanese fishing fleet at the beginning of the work and near its end casts its net over the whole text and suggests that the purpose of Steinbecks expedition, though

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141 he cannot say it, is to see and preserve the Gulf of California before it is thoroughly destroyed through this type of exploitation. The voyage of the Western Flyer is a type of environmentalist intervention in the wrecking of the natural world that does not expose its participants to the charge of monstrosity because it refuses to explain what it is doing or why it is doing it. Steinbeck seems to have known that this type of environmentalist intervention would not fundamentally change the American culture that he knew to be the root of the problem, but he contemplated it at lengthand remained committed to itin a number of texts that he wrote between the 1940s and 1960s. In Cannery Row and Sweet Thursday, the two novels that convert Ed Ricketts into a character named Doc who owns a biological supply company in Monterey, Steinbeck tries to believe that science can solve the ecological crises of the twentieth century. Although he hardly discusses it at all in either of these novels, Cannery Row is a tremendous industrial machine that exploited and exhausted the California sardine population in the mid-1940s (Shillinglaw "Introduction" vii). Essentially under the eaves of Cannery Row Doc plods among tidal pools searching for starfish and other marine animals that he can preserve and sell to Eastern universities. Steinbeck does not articulate it as such, but Docs preservative work is a hedge against the very process of environmental exploitation that the title of Cannery Row implies. When he kills his specimens, inserts dye into their veins, and ships them to students who will study them, Doc nominates species for induction into a transcendental scientific mind where they will have eternal life irregardless of the mortal fate of the species. It is the same notion of preservation that was practiced in the natural science museums that were spawned by European imperialism beginning in the sixteenth century,

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142 the same notion of preservation that was fueling the development of the African Hall exhibit in the American Museum of Natural History in New York City in the first half of the twentieth century. 21 Bottling specimens of animal life so that they could be preserved for science offered Steinbeck some interesting possibilities, but he ultimately recognized its deficiencies. In Cannery Row, this mode of preservation allows Steinbeck to imaginatively sever the barrier that divides the sphere of the human from the inhuman. This binary dissolves in the storeroom of Docs laboratory, where little unborn humans, . whole and . sliced thin and mounted on slides are situated amongst rattlesnakes, and rats, and honey bees and gila monsters, and it disintegrates when Doc happens upon the body of a dead girl suspended lifeless but immaculate in a tide pool during a collecting mission (27). When Doc encounters this body in the tide pool, the entire episode bears the marks of sublime experience. As might be expected, Doc breaks out in goose bumps, he begins shivering, his eyes fill with tears, and he feels that the image of the girls face has been burned on his mind (105). It is not the moment of abject horror or disgust that it could have been, however. He hears music, he recognizes that the girl is pretty, even beautiful, and that she is an image of comfort and rest (105). For all of the shock involved, however, the most interesting aspect of this scene is the way that Steinbeck constructs the sublime. Here, the sublime does not signal the sudden presence of God, nor is it necessarily triggered by the presence of deaththat the girl is dead is less important to the sublime effect of the scene than the fact that she is an image of humanity fully and beautifully incorporated into nature. She is entirely enclosedas if in one of

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143 Docs specimen bottleswithin a crevice of rock and a bed of algae (which seems like kelp in Steinbecks description), and the transcendent beauty and peace of her face is the result of her submerged state: Just under water it was and the clear water made it very beautiful (105). Within the whole scope of his work, the collection of specimens for scientific preservation is the only hedge against environmental destruction that does not carry the threat of monstrosity (this fact alone may account for Steinbecks sustained commitment to this form of preservation), and it is the only way that Steinbeck can imagine a total integration of the human and the natural. In the end, however, it is an attenuated type of preservationits goals depend upon an idealized scientific mind that might be able to grant a sense of immortality to a biological species, but which is necessarily isolated from the problematic American culture Steinbeck blames for the environmental crises of the twentieth century. Even beyond its lack of cultural agency, though, this scientific mode of preservation cannot accomplish any of its goalswhether the preservation of species or the creation of a new human orientation toward the environmentoutside of death. Steinbeck remained committed to non-radical forms of environmentalist intervention until the very end of his career. Just two years before his death, he submitted an open letter to Popular Science asking the public to continue funding ocean research. He wrote the letter as the official historian of a deep ocean drilling program that lasted from 1961, but his financial plea is based upon a very broad claim that oceanic exploration might be able to alleviate the problem of global overpopulation. 22 In this letter, which is entitled Lets Go After the Neglected Treasures Beneath the Seas: A plea for equal effort on inner space exploration, Steinbeck suggests that humanity should

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144 pursue improving fish species so that they will be more useful to humans, cultivating the huge agriculture of the seas, and, in what is really his magic bullet, finding a way to make plankton, this boundless bank of protein, available for our bellies (86). The whole body of Steinbecks workeven Lets Go After the Neglected Treasures Beneath the Seas, when it speaks of modern, North American homo sapiens as a wasteful species that un-naturally raids the earth of its resources and kills more than it needs to consumereveals that Steinbeck recognized all kinds of environmental abuse, understood its human and ecological ramifications, and recognized that the problem was a cultural predilection toward irresponsible and wasteful over-consumption fueled by twentieth century corporate capitalism. 23 Despite what his writings reveal, however, Steinbeck never says anything to suggest that waste should be reduced, that ecological damage should be stopped, or that patterns of consumption should be changed. As his Popular Science article illustrates, his primary inclination was to look for solutions to environmental problems in science rather than social activism. If Steinbeck had ever pursued an environmentalist social agenda, he would have had to adopt a type of public voice that he associates with monstrosity in To a God Unknown and Sweet Thursday. In these novels Steinbeck clearly suggests that radicalism only becomes monstrosity when it finds public expression. Joseph Wayne, the protagonist of To a God Unknown, senses a spiritual connection to the earth, considers himself a part of the land, and ultimately comes to regard the health of the land as more important than his own. When the parish priest learns of all this, he articulates the relationship between voice, radicalism, and monstrosity that guides Steinbecks politics: Thank God this man has no message. Thank God he has no will to be remembered, to

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145 be believed in. And, in sudden heresy, Else there might be a new Christ here in the West (177). Joseph Wayne would only become dangerous if his radicalism became a message, which is also the case with the Seer in Sweet Thursday. This character refuses to participate in what he recognizes as the mainstream and materialistic culture of the United States and accordingly lives on the beach as a hermit. In a conversation with the seer, Doc comments that he is surprised they dont lock you up because it is a crime to be happy without . a whole hell of a lot of stuff, and reaffirms the connection between voice and monstrosity that Steinbeck initially defined in Sweet Thursday when he tells the seer that You may not be preaching it, but youre living treason (61). For each of these figures, becoming a new Christ would bear the same old price. As it always is with Steinbeck, to live treasonously is one thing, but to articulate a radical position is to risk monstrosity. By the end of Steinbecks career, environmental politics were doubly impossible within the literary field. The canon that was well defined by the 1960s held no place for it, and it was prohibited within the field of American culture. Rachel Carson, Silent Spring, and the resurgence of environmental activism that they initiated would eventually change all of this, but not before Carson and her work were assaulted from multiple directions (which is the very fate that Steinbeck predicted for any figure who voiced environmentalist radicalism) and tacitly shuffled into a quickly developing sub-field of nature or environmental writing that would keep her out of the main line of Literature, American or otherwise. 24 Alternative orientations toward the environment were only available to those like Carson who were willing to take the risks involved with public

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146 activism, and to those like Zora Neale Hurston and Jean Toomer, who wrote outside of the dominant U. S. literary traditions and cultures. Notes 1 A version of this chapter has been previously published in the Journal of American Culture as Why Isnt He So Green?: John Steinbecks Monstrous Ecology. It appears here with the permission of the Journal of American Culture and Blackwell Publishing. 2 Throughout this project I have worked to separate environmentalism from ecology, but Cather and Steinbeck are particularly important figures hin the history of American literatures environmental politics because they could speak in the very scientific register that would come to dominate environmental discourse through the last half of the twentieth century. 3 Claims of Cathers radical ambivalence have become commonplace in recent scholarship. Janis Stout, for instance, senses a deep ambivalence of response to a shifting, increasingly uncertain modern world in Cathers writing (and in My ntonia in particular) while Melissa Ryan recognizes a radical ambivalence at the center of Cathers frontier hagiography and Sarah Wilson writes that The Professors House contains a palpable sense of discomfort with, and ambivalence about, the colonial gaze at work in the building of national histories (Stout 145, Ryan 276, Wilson 578). 4 Rosowski explains that Besey revolutionized botany by directing attention away from other peoples taxonomies and toward the field, where might study nature (37). Rosowski also argues that Besey entirely dominated the intellectual life of the university and that his influence was felt in every quarter: the University was akin to a small town where everybody knew everybodyand where everybody looked to Besey as their model of excellence, the one who set the pace. His influence was everywhere, in all the departmentsin the English and the language departments (where A. H. Edgren called himself a linguistic scientist) and in the history department (where F. M. Fling advocated conducting historical research by scientific principles) and, of course, in the sciences (38). Several of Cathers classmates became the type of brilliant naturalist that she had thought she might become herself. Clements is famous as the ecologist who formulated . the facilitation hypothesis, and he married Edith Schwartz, another of Cathers classmates, who would earn a Ph.D. in botany and co-author texts with Clements (37). Roscoe Pound also attended Nebraska with Cather. As Rosowski explains, Pound was the brother of Louise Pound, Cathers close friend, he possessed a genius that inspired those around him to explore the philosophical issues most relevant to biology, and he was to receive his Ph.D. in botany and to head the states survey of Nebraska flora before moving on to Harvard, where he became Dean of the Law College (37-8).

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147 5 For a detailed discussion of this frenzy of federal conservation in the context of Cathers work, see Urgos My ntonia and the National Parks Movement. 6 Muir did indeed publish Scribners and The Century, but these publications are essentially the same. Scribners became The Century in 1881. 7 Between 1901 and 1914, Houghton published Our National Parks (1901), Stickeen (1909), My First Summer in the Sierra (1911), and The Story of My Boyhood and Youth (1913). In the decade after his death, Houghton also released Travles in Alaska (1915), A Thousand Mile Walk to the Gulf (1917), Steep Trails (1918), Jeannie C. Carrs collection of Muirs letters, Letters to a Friend; Written to Mrs. Eliza S. Carr, 1866-1879 (1915), and William F. Bads The Life and Letters of John Muir (1924). 8 Eliot was the president of Harvard College from 1869 to 1909, Olmstead was the prominent urban planner who designed New York Citys Central Park, Ethan Hitchcock was the Secretary of the Interior under Presidents McKinley and Roosevelt from1899 to 1907, Mills was a wilderness protection advocate, Glagow was a novelist and an acquaintance of Cathers, Watterson was the editor the Louisville Courier-Journal from 1869-1919 who won a Pulitzer Prize in 1918 for editorials supporting the U. S. entrance into World War I, and Henry Fairfield Osborn was a paleontologist and eventual president of the American Museum of Natural History. It is unclear how well Cather knew Glasgow, but the two authors would have been aware of each other. Elizabeth Sargent writes that she never heard [Cather] mention Galsgow, but Glasgow attended the 1933 Pulitzer Prize banquet where Cather delivered a public address that was broadcast on NBC Radio (198). For a list of attendees and two slightly different transcripts of the speech, see Brent Bohlkes Willa Cather in Person (168-170) and the online Willa Cather Archive, which also offers a audio recording of the speech under the title Cathers 1933 Radio Speech. 9 Downs makes these claims throughout Becoming Modern, but they are the focus of the fifth chapter, where she also explains exactly how Cather came to re-write (and how we now know that she did re-write) The Life of Mary Baker G. Eddy, which had never been attributed to Cather before the early 1980s. As further evidence of just how engaged Cather was with her work in journalism, Downs argues that her experience at McCluresand particularly her experience with S. S. McClure himselfdrastically influenced her writing style. 10 Cather was offering these comments during the later years of her career when she felt embattled against the newer generation of (largely modernist) writers and critics. It would be easy to claim that her disavowal of politics is simply the function of her mood during these years, but she claims, at least, that she held these opinions much earlier in her career as she was writing her most enduring novels. While she argues in Escapism that the novel is the wrong medium for social activism, she also poses a secondary argument that reformers would be better served if they would follow the method of the pamphleteers (970). Only by that method, she argues, can these subjects be seriously

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148 and fairly discussed. And the people who are able to do anything toward improving such conditions will read only such a discussion (970). 11 Granville Hicks, of course, is only one of many critics who engaged Cather in the early twentieth century. As several critics have noted, his tendency to attack Cather on the grounds of gender (the Miss Cather in the passage that I have quoted is a refrain throughout The Case against Willa Cather) was a typical response to her work during 1930s. For discussions of Cathers critics that reach beyond the scope of Cathers standard biographies, see Deborah Carlins Cather, Canon, and the Politics of Reading and Joan Acocellas Willa Cather and the Politics of Criticism. 12 It is in these sections of the novel that Alexandra often elevates the present into the realm of epic history and offers her most blatant erasure of the imperialist activity that predicated her own Westward movement. Both of these nostalgic moves are quite obvious in her declaration that For the first time, since that land emerged from the waters of geologic ages, a human face was set toward it with love and yearning. It seemed beautiful to her, rich and strong and glorious. Her eyes drank in the breadth of it, until her tears blinded her. Then the Genius of the Divide, the great, free spirit which breathes across it, must have bent lower than it ever bent to a human will before. The history of every country begins in the heart of a man or a woman (42). 13 The impact of the prairie on Cathers sense of self has been discussed at length. See, for instance, Sharon OBriens Willa Cather, especially the third chapter, Transplanting. For Cathers own description of the erasure of personality that she experienced upon entering the country as bare as a piece of sheet iron, see Willa Cather Talks of Work. 14 With these lines, Cather is explicitly describing Carl Linstrums view of the place as a boy, but she seems to be speaking on a much more general level. She echoes the idea of the prairie as the great fact several pages later in a description of another characterJohn Bergson. Here, as he lays dying and thinking about the land that he has died trying to bring to order, he ends his reverie thinking, and then the grass, essentially repeating the phrase that Cather attributes to Carl earlierthat prairie or the grass is the great fact or the enigmatic essence of the place (14). 15 It is in rapturous moments like these that Catherblurring the lines between her control of the narrative and the emotions running through Alexandracreates the most imperialist moment of the novel, which I have quoted in note 11. 16 Cather wrote a different introduction for the 1926 edition of My ntonia that does not directly undercut Jim Burdens authority. The primary reason for the change was to grant the novel a greater degree of subtlety. For a fuller discussion of the introduction, see Jean Schwinds The Benda Illustrations to My ntonia: Cathers Silent Supplement to Jim Burdens Narrative.

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149 17 The fact that the grass in this gravesite has never been cut is so important to Jim that he repeats it, almost verbatim, much later in the narrative. Upon another visit to the place, he writes that he and ntonia sat down outside the sagging wire fence that shut Mr. Shimerdas plot off from the rest of the world. The tall red grass had never been cut there. It has died down in winter and come up in the spring until it was as thick and shrubby as some tropical garden-grass (239, emphasis added). 18 The standard source of information about Steinbecks scientific lineage is Richard Astros John Steinbeck and Edward F. Ricketts: The Shaping of a Novelist. James C. Kelleys John Steinbeck and Ed Ricketts: Understanding Life in the Great Tide Pool, however, offers a very helpful update to Astros work. 19 Steinbeck published Sea of Cortez with Ed Ricketts in 1941. The text included a narrative of the ecological expedition that they made into the Gulf of California in addition to a catalog of the areas marine life. The narrative portion of Sea of Cortez was republished without the scientific apparatus as The Log from the Sea of Cortez in 1951. From this point forward, I will only refer to the Log because it is still in print and it contains the narrative portion of the original project that interests me. 20 Ingebretsens Monster-Making offers incredibly concise theory of monstrosity that he develops further in At Stake: Monsters and the Rhetoric of Fear in Public Culture. For other scholars who follow Ingebretsens course, see Fred Bottings Making Monstrous: Frankenstein, Criticism, Theory, Jeffrey Cohens Monster Theory: Reading Culture, Judith Halberstams Skin Shows: Gothic Horror and the Technology of Horror, Marie-Hlne Huets Monstrous Imagination, and Karyn Michele Valeriuss Misconceptions: Monstrosity and the Politics of Interpretation in American Culture from the Antinomian Controversy to Biotechnology. 21 For more on the spread of natural science museums, see the first chapter of Looking Away and the resources I mention there in addition to Susan Sheets-Pyensons Cathedrals of Science: The Development of Colonial Natural History Museums during the Late Nineteenth Century. The process of scientific/taxidermic preservation that Doc pursues in Cannery Row and Sweet Thursday is precisely the type of preservation that went into the African Hall exhibit in the American Museum of Natural History that opened in 1936. In large part, African Hall was made possible by the technologically innovative taxidermist, Carl Akeley, who killed the animals that would eventually be displayed in the hall during the 1920s. As Donna Haraway tells the story in Teddy Bear Patriarchy, Akeley was driven, almost monomaniacally, to kill and preserve the silverback gorillas that would become the centerpiece of African Hall because he feared the gorilla would be driven to extinction before it was adequately known to science (Haraway 34). In Haraways language, Akeley regarded taxidermy as a type of scientific knowledge that canceled death; only death before knowledge was final, an abortive act in the natural history of progress (34). When taxidermied specimens made it onto display, moreover, they became cultural agents that Akeley and his contemporaries believed could heal the ills of the modern world. As Haraway states it, the American Museum of Natural History, African Hall, and Akeleys specimens were

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150 intended to function as a medical technology, a hygienic intervention against decadence (55). Both Steinbeck and Akeley understood that this form of preservation was an inadequate response to the destruction of biological life. Akeley, as Mariana Torgovnick puts it, was an active gorilla conservationist and he worked to create the Virtunga Wildlife preserve in Africa (58). Penelope Bodry-Sanderss Carl Akeley: Africas Collector, Africas Savior offers a more sympathetic reading of Akeley, and Torgovnick offers her own interpretation of the mans life as she reviews Bodry-Sanderss book in Stuffed Animals. For more elaborate descriptions of events at the American Museum of Natural History, see Stephen T. Asmas Stuffed Animals and Pickled Heads: The Culture and Evolution of Natural History Museums, Joseph Wallaces A Gathering of Wonders: Behind the Scenes at The American Museum of Natural History, and Douglas J. Prestons Dinosaurs in the Attic: An Excursion into the American Museum of Natural History. 22 In this letter Steinbeck is expressing the same Malthusian overpopulation thesis that is featured in Fairfield Osborns Our Plundered Planet and William Vogts Road to Survival, both of which were published in 1948, well before this essay. While Hedgpeth recognizes the similarities of Osborns and Vogts texts to passages in Travels with Charley, no hard evidence exists, in Robert J. DeMotts Steinbecks Reading or elsewhere, that he had read these books. As Hedgpeth recognizes, Road to Survival was a Book of the Month Club book and the likelihood of Steinbecks at least casual contact with it is highly probable (Hegdpeth, John Steinbeck: Late-Blooming Environmentalist 304). 23 Steinbecks critique of capitalism appears throughout the body of his work, but it is nowhere more evident or strident than it is in The Grapes of Wrath, in which anonymous banks and corporate interests are blamed for the dislocation of the Joad family. 24 Although scholars have constantly suggested that Steinbeck knew nothing of Rachel Carson, he does allude to uninhibited spraying in America and Americans, which seems a rather direct echo of Carsons work (377). It is a fleeting moment, though, and no other evidence exists to suggest that Steinbeck was particularly engaged with Carson even though Silent Spring was being published serially in the New Yorker in 1961 while Steinbeck was writing Travels with Charley and published as a book in 1962, well before he wrote America and Americans. In her synopsis of the attacks that were launched against Carson, Linda Lear writes that Carson was defamed as a hysterical woman whose alarming view of the future could be ignored . a bird and bunny lover, a woman who kept cats and was therefore clearly suspect . a romantic spinster who was simply overwrought about genetics . in short, a woman out of control (xvii).

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CHAPTER 6 RECLAIMING BLACKSPACE: ZORA NEALE HURSTON, THE POWER OF HARLEM, AND THE PROMISE OF FLORIDA Willa Cather and John Steinbeck were hardly the only authors to register environmental loss in the early twentieth century, but their canonically modulated methods of repressing environmental anxiety are largely representative. William Faulkner, for instance, was equally aware of widespread environmental destruction, and a range of scholars have recently demonstrated that much of his work reflects a keen understanding of Mississippis environmental history. While Cather and Steinbeck tended to grant the natural world intrinsic or ecological value, Faulkner found nature important as a place where boys could become men and where the threatened masculinities of grown men could be rejuvenated. When he and his fictional characters confronted natures ultimate end, however, they depended on the same metonyms of environmental health that sustained Emerson, Cather, and Steinbeck. As Ike McCaslin does in Go Down, Moses, Faulkner silenced any environmental lamentation that he could have offered and instead insisted that the immortal essence of his privileged wilderness, Mississippis Big Bottom, would always remain virgin and indomitable even when reduced by sawmills and expanding cotton operations to a final, pubic, and metonymic -shaped section of earth between hills and River (GDM 327). 1 As Faulkner watched the deterioration of Mississippis natural world and began adopting ways to remain disconnected from the increasingly unavoidable problem, Zora 151

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152 Neale Hurston was becoming frustrated with the politics and patronage of Harlem and preparing to carve out a new liberatory, regenerative, and utopian blackspace in the Southern United States. Hurston had arrived in Harlem in 1925 and experienced a short period of incredible successher short stories were published in (and won a prize from) Opporunity, she founded and co-edited Fire!! with Langston Hughes and Wallace Thurman, and she fashioned herself, for a short while, into the central spectacle of the Harlem Renaissance. 2 As time passed, though, she found herself caught between a manipulative white community that supported her financially and a group of powerful African American leaders that conspired to control her. Hurstons ultimate response to this situationwhich has been criticized since the early twentieth century as an escape into nostalgia and an abandonment of liberatory racial politicswas to create an alternate zone of black autonomy in the South, the very region that many African Americans had fled during the Great Migration. For Hurston, the Southand Florida in particularwas a space that could accommodate a vibrant black community outside of Harlem, where both white and black power brokers controlled the work of a younger generation of artists. Although she had lived through some of the Souths most frightening racial violence in Florida, Hurston still believed the place to be a haven for African Americans in general and African American artists in particular, and her writings enact a project of spatial reclamation, in the most hostile region of the United States for African Americans. She performs this spatial reclamation, moreover, by entirely eliding the white tradition of environmental experience, with all of its longing for originary environmental purity and its corresponding fears of environmental destruction, and offering in its place a vision of

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153 enmeshment within an immanently physical natural world that carried particular racial and cultural significance. Hurston, Harlem, and Power When Hurston arrived in Harlem in 1925, she was already involved in the network of intellectuals that was producing the New Negro movement. She had attracted the attention of Alain Locke while she was a student at Howard University (she was a member of Stylus, the Howard literary club that Locke himself helped found in 1915), and in 1924 Locke had recommended Hurston to Charles S. Johnson, the editor of the Opportunity. On the basis of Lockes recommendation, Johnson solicited a story from Hurston. She gave him Drenched in Light, he published it, and he urged her to move to Harlem. Thus, before she had ever been to New York, Hurston already had personal relationships with Alain Locke and Charles S. Johnsonby all accounts, two of the most powerful men of the Harlem Renaissance. Less than six months after her arrival in New York, Hurston would turn a literary contest staged by Johnson and his Opportunity into veritable coming-out partyshe won more awards than anyone, including second-place awards in fiction and drama, and two honorable mention awards in the same categories. 3 Describing Hurstons initial response to Harlem, Valerie Boyd writes that Harlem in 1925 was a place where being black was not a burden but an act of beauty, not a liability but a state of grace that fully restored the sense of community and the sense of me-ness that Zora had felt so profoundly as a child in Eatonville (94). For all of the optimism that Harlem engendered, though, being an artist and black was a problem indeed, and one that Hurston could not avoid. Both Boyd and Robert Hemenway report that Hurston arrived in Harlem with a dollar and fifty cents in her purse, and that Harlem was a place with high rents and low salaries (Boyd 93). 4

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154 The Opportunitys awards banquet marked Hurstons full entrance into Harlems social life, but it also marked her entrance into Harlems system of patronage. Immediately after the banquet, Hurston was approached by the first of her three major female patrons, Annie Nathan Meyer, the founder and longtime trustee of Barnard College, who offered her enrollment in Barnard. During the banquet, Fanny Hurst, the woman who would become Hurstons second major patron and who had served as a judge in Charles Johnsons literary contest, had presented Hurston with the second place prize that she won for Spunk (Boyd 104). Although Meyer was successful in getting her into Barnard, she had to struggle to fund Hurstons education. The college would not grant Hurston a scholarship on the basis of the academic record that she brought from Howard, and Meyer cast about soliciting money from those whom Virginia Gildersleeve, the dean of Barnard College, called outside persons interested in the Negro race (Boyd 101). Meyers efforts were mostly successful, but they left Hurston in financial straits nonetheless. She could still not pay all of her fees and she was burdened by the seemingly endless small expenses that attended the Barnard experience. In an October 12, 1925 letter to Meyer, for instance, Hurston concedes that her first semester at Barnard will have to be her last because she has had to spend so much money for necessitiesbooks, gym outfit, shoes, stockings, maps, tennis raquet, . a bathing suit, gloves and if I am here in the Spring, I will need a golf outfit (Kaplan 66). Five days later, in another letter to Meyer, Hurston wrote, Today I have 11 centsall that is left of my savings, so you can see there is some justification for my doubts as to whether I can remain there [at Barnard]. I must somehow pay my room-rent and I must have food (Kaplan 67).

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155 Hurston remained nearly penniless until Meyer approached Fannie Hurst with Hurstons situation. Hurst was already becoming involved with Hurston when Meyer approached her about the money problemwell after the Opportunity banquet she had procured Hurstons address from Carl Van Vetchen and invited her to her homeand she immediately interceded by making Hurston her personal secretary. Hurston lived with Fanny Hurst for a month, and her secretarial stint was short, but her relationship with the famous novelist endured. They shared a sense of style, they made public outings together, and Hurstons attachment to Hurst improved her standing at Barnard among both her classmates and the colleges administration, which found a scholarship for her in 1926. By all accounts, Annie Nathan Meyer and Fannie Hurst genuinely liked Hurston and they wanted to help her; and Hurston, for her part, liked them and appreciated their support. Even in the best circumstances, though, the relationships were uneven and sometimesdeliberately or nothumiliating. Of all the support Hurston gained, Meyers came with the fewest strings attached. Having helped found Barnard in the late 1880s, she served on its board of trustees until her death in 1851 and constantly worked to recruit students to the college. Hurston would be Barnards only black student at the time, but recruiting students for the college was essentially what Meyer did. The language that Hurston uses in her letters to Meyer, however, reflects a sense of abjectioneven if it is feigned abjection. 5 In the first letters she sends to Meyer, Hurston emphasizes her indebtedness when she writes, I must not let you be disappointed in me, and she accentuates the stark racial and class differences between herself and Meyer by

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156 frequently referring to herself as your little pickaninny and your most humble and obedient servant (Kaplan 62). Hurston would develop a closer bond to Hurst than Meyer. They lived together for a time, after all; they shared a sense of fashion, and they both enjoyed a good time. For all their common interest, though, the two authors never played on an even field. As much as Hurst promoted Hurstons writings, clearly treated her differently than her other friends; and by announcing her as Princess Zora in social situations she clearly used Hurston as a social novelty in ways that Hurston would certainly have understood (Patterson 166). Beyond the uneven terms of their friendship, Hurston never achieved her patrons financial success or publishing advances despite the fact that they enjoyed similar levels of acclaim as writers. By the time that Hurston met her third major patron, Charlotte Osgood Mason, she had largely succeeded at Barnard. She had discovered anthropology and become comfortable in the company of Melville Herskovits, Ruth Benedict, and Gladys Reichard; she had forged a lasting bond with Franz Boas, and she had already conducted her first anthropological fieldwork in Floridaa six-month project that was funded, at Boass urging, by the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History and the American Folklore Society (Boyd 142). 6 When Hurston finally did meet Mason in September of 1927, the elderly white woman was already supporting Langston Hughes, Alain Locke, and numerous other renaissance figures. As with Meyer and Hurst, Hurstons relationship with Mason was mixed. Hurston feltor at least reported feelingthat she was destined to meet Mason. She reported having had dreams of the moment from her childhood, in fact, and she professed

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157 feeling a psychic and even telepathic connection to the elderly white woman whom she called Godmother. 7 Mason supported Hurston financially from 1927 to 1937, and as Genevieve West has recognized, Hurston must have seen her as the only source of funding available (46). She wanted to continue her anthropological research and, lacking any advanced degrees, she could hardly have expected continuing financial support from foundations or scientific societies (West 46). In the words of Cheryl Wall, the deal that Hurston struck with Mason was a Faustian compact (Women 155). It required that Mason retain the rights to all of the anthropological materials that Hurston collected in her field work, and it subjected Hurston to much more severe forms of humiliation than she experienced in her relationships with any of her other patrons. Patterson writes, for instance, that Godmother liked to hold court from a throne-like chair while the godchildren occupied low stools at her feet. Part of this ritual called for lush cascades of flattery and self-deprecation from her Negroes (171). Even when Hurston was not in New York to perform in Masons court, she still worked under the long shadow of her patron. Hurston reports in Dust Tracks on a Road that Mason could read her mind even at a distance and that she would receive letters from Godmother out of the blue while she was working in Alabama, Florida, or in the Bahama Islands that chastised her for what I was thinking (128). Whether this psychic connection was real or not is secondary to the fact that before her ultimate break from her, Hurston could not escape Masons grip regardless of where she went or what she did. She depended upon her patron for all of her material needs, and while she was working in the field she had to itemize everything she bought, includinga detail that appears in every description of the Hurston-Mason

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158 relationshipeverything from dues to professional organizations to Kotex (Wall Women 154). With her financial patrons, Hurston was forced to negotiate the tenuous boundary between friendship and servitudefor the most part, she liked her patrons and she certainly needed them, but she rarely trusted them and knew that their relationships were often mutually exploitative. Her relationship with the periods race leaders, particularly with Alain Locke, was equally strained. Huston knew all of the black leaders of the early twentieth century, and she strained against the influence of them all. She knew W. E. B. Du Bois, for instanceshe participated in his Krigwa Players, she helped establish the groups Little Negro Theatre, and she provided several of the plays that the Theatre performed in 1925but she, Langston Hughes, and Wallace Thurman all rebelled against Du Boiss aesthetic system (and the power with which he promoted it) when they compiled the first and only edition of their deliberately scandalous journal, Fire!! (Boyd 117). 8 Although she knew Du Bois and although she had an extended and sometimes fiery relationship with Walter White (the civil rights worker who was executive director of the NAACP from 1931 until his death in 1955), Alain Locke was Hurstons most intimate link to the power brokers of the Harlem Renaissance. Without Locke, Hurston may have never met Charles S. Johnson or Charlotte Osgood Mason. She may have never gone to Harlem at all. Locke was absolutely central to Hurstons success. She knew it, she was comfortable with it, and she thanked him repeatedly for everything that he had done for her.

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159 At the same time, though, Locke was a burden. As early as 1929, Hurston was imagining him as a wheedling, scheming fraud. In a letter to Langston Hughes, she writes that the trouble with Locke is that he is intellectually dishonest. He is too eager to be with the winner, if you get what I mean. He wants to autograph all success, but is afraid to risk an opinion first hand (Kaplan 144). Whatever Hurston thought of Locke, he was not a person that she could dismiss. As Carla Kaplan has put it, Locke was a well-connected gatekeeper tied to most of the leaders of the Harlem Renaissance, but he was also connected to Charlotte Osgood Masonconnected, in fact, much more closely than Hurston (44). When Hurstons play, From Sun to Sun turned into a financial disaster in 1932, Mason discussed Hurston with Locke. According to both Hemenway and Boyd, Mason confessed her misgivings about Hurston to Locke, and he added fuel to the fire. Mason felt that Zora lacked leadership skillsand that other people . were actually exploiting her to get ideas for their own work while Locke, joining in the spirit of the moment, wondered aloud how Zora could afford the rent on her New York apartment and questioned why Godmother was continuing to give her a monthly allowance with nothing to show for it (Boyd 233). Locke was Godmothers chief advisor on all things Negro and he often acted as Masons agent (he had been keeping an eye on the development of From Sun to Sun for Mason from the beginninga fact that prompts Boyd to call him a theatrical spy of sorts) (Boyd 228, 229). It was therefore nothing new when he went to Hurstons apartment to inform her of Godmothers state of mind. He told her, according to Hemenway, that she could no longer expect money from Godmother. He pointed out, like a professor to a student, that her apartment was far too expensive for her reduced

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160 income, and that she should be writing to black colleges about employment (183). Both Hemenway and Boyd recognize that the end of the relationship between Hurston and Mason was partially determined by economicsthe U. S. was mired in the Great Depression in 1932, but only Boyd admits that Lockes behavior amounted to an act of base meddling and self preservation (234). He was working to protect Godmothers [financial] interests (and his own); if Hurston went off the books, there was a greater chance that he would remain on them (Boyd 233). Despite the boldness of Lockes confrontation, Hurston essentially acquiesced to the news he delivered. She understood that she was a financial burden to Mason and that she was being judged all along on her monetary success. In the years following that fateful meeting, Hurston remained in contact and on fairly congenial terms with Locke. In 1938, though, he issued such a biting review of Their Eyes Were Watching God that Hurston attempted to make public the fundamental criticism of Locke that she expressed to Langston Hughes in 1929. Those original sentiments run throughout a letter that she sent in February of 1938 to James Weldon Johnson as a letter and to Opportunity as The Chick with One Hen (which the magazine never printed): I get tired of the envious picking on me. And if you will admit the truth you know that Alain Leroy Locke is a malicious, spiteful litt[l]e snot that thinks he ought to be the leading Negro because of his degrees. Foiled in that, he spends his time trying to cut the ground from under everbody else. So far as the young writers are concerned, he runs a mental pawnshop. He lends out his patronage and takes in ideas which he soon passes off as his own. And God help you if you get on without letting him represent you! (Kaplan 413) Creating a Floridian Blackspace At the critical moment in 1932 when From Sun to Sun failed to turn a profit and Alain Locke told her that she was dead weight Godmother could not continue to bear, Hurston viewed Harlem itselfparticularly its economies of patronage and poweras

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161 part of her problem. Harlem simply would not allow her to conduct her artistic and anthropological work. Her immediate response to this situation was to return to Florida. From 1932 on, Hurston made Florida her home (she traveled frequently to New York, other parts of the South, and the Caribbean Islands, but she was rooted in Florida), and she worked to re-envision the South as a viable space for the practice of African American life and art. In one of the most important late twentieth-century critiques of Hurstons entire body of work, Hazel Carby poses a series of claims that recapitulate some of the concerns that Richard Wright and Alain Locke expressed upon the initial publication of Their Eyes Were Watching God. Immediately upon the heels of the novels publication (in the review that elicited the fiery response that Hurston sent to James Weldon Johnson and Opportunity), Locke suggested that Hurston needed to get over oversimplification and come to grips with motive fiction and social document fiction while Wright, in a separate review, accused Hurston of minstrelsy and pandering to a white audience whose chauvinistic tastes she knows how to satisfy (18, 17). In her much more recent essay, Carby argues that Hurston ignored the northward and urban movement of black Americans during the early twentieth century; that her representation of African American culture as primarily rural and oral is a particular [and flawed] response to the dramatic transformations within black culture; and that each of these tendencies (to ignore both the spatial and cultural changes that African Americans were experiencing in the early twentieth century) amount to an overarching discursive displacement of contemporary social crises in her writing (121).

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162 Hurstons explanations of her return to the South seem to support Carbys claims. When she first informed Charlotte Osgood Mason of her desire to return to the South in an April 1832 letter, Hurston lays out several good reasons: atmosphere to work. 2. Escape New York. 3. Health 4. Chance of self-support (Kaplan 250). And, several years later, when she explains the same relocation to Thomas E. Jones (the president of Fisk University), she writes that I returned to my native village for quiet, atmosphere and economical existence in addition to my love of the place (Kaplan 316). In each instancein more or less overt waysHurston portrays her return to the South as an escape and, with references to my native village, quietude, and a love for a place, as a retreat into what may be construed as a socially disengaged nostalgia. Despite what these letters may suggest about a nostalgic outlook and an abandonment of politics, though, Hurston knew the situation she was re-entering in the South and she knew her returnand what she planned to do therewas a political intervention in its own right. When Hurston moved from Jacksonville, Florida to Memphis, Tennessee in 1915 (eventually to land in Baltimore Maryland in 1917), she was participatingalbeit with different motivations than manyin the Great Migration that carried scores of African Americans northward in the early twentieth century and abandoning the South in the middle of the 50-year period that witnessed the lynching of nearly 2,500 African Americans (Tolnay and Beck ix). 9 Of the Southern states, Hurstons Florida had been an even more dangerous place for African-Americans than any other state in the regionmore dangerous, in fact, than the Deep South states of Mississippi, Georgia, Louisiana, Alabama, and South Carolinafrom 1882 to 1930. The most recent definitive data shows that during this period Florida experienced nearly 80

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163 black victims of lynchings per 100,000 African-Americans, which is nearly thirty more victims per 100,000 than the next state, Mississppi, which had approximately 53 (Tolnay and Beck 38). When Hurston returned to the South in the late 1920s to carry out anthropological field research and in the 1930s to settle more or less permanently in Florida, she was returning to a region that was still witnessing prolific mob violence despite the fact that lynching (in the form of vigilante kidnapping, torture, and murder rather than the legal lynchings that were becoming more common) was on the decline throughout the South. 10 When she returned for her first anthropological expedition in 1927, two of the states most notorious lynchings had taken place in regions of the state that she had known in her childhood and adolescence. In 1920, while Hurston was earning her associates degree from Howard University in Washington, D. C., a mob of whites, incensed by blacks who were attempting to vote, traveled three miles from Winter Park, Florida to Ocoee (just thirteen miles from Eatonville) and killed seven people including the prosperous black landowner, July Perry. In the aftermath of the incident, which included continued white violence toward the all-black town, Ocoee was entirely abandoned. 11 Three years later, while Hurston was still at Howard, one of the nations most dramatic lynchings occurred in Rosewood, Florida. In this instance, which David R. Colburn is careful to point out was just one incident in an era of extraordinary racial anxiety and conflict, at least eight African-Americans were killed and the all-black community of Rosewood was burned to the ground by a mob acting on a white womans unfounded accusation of rape (176).

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164 Even in the 1930swhen the worst of the Souths lynching was over and when Hurston was back in Floridathirteen more people were lynched in the state. Of the 1930s lynchings, two attracted intense national attention because they were singularly brutal events at a moment when lynching had become rare enough to once again attract attention and because one of them involved the lynching of a white man who had not been accused of a crime (22). In the first of these events, which happened in Greenwood, Florida (roughly seventy miles northwest of Tallahassee or 35 miles southeast of Dothan, Alabama) in 1934, Claude Neal was arrested as a suspect in the murder of an 18 year-old white girl, Lola Cannidy, stolen from police custody, and tortured before being killed, mutilated, and partially dismembered. Before the lynching ever happened, members of the mob had announced their plans to media outlets in Dothan and the news eventually reached the Associated Press and became a national story shortly before Neal was killed. The second of these two lynchings occurred in Tampa, Florida in 1935 when Joseph Shoemaker was whipped and beaten nearly to death and left to die, which he did several days later after being discovered and unsuccessfully treated for his massive wounds. Shoemaker and the two other men who were attacked along with him (they survived the incident) were guilty only of being socialists and activists (Howard 81). 12 Neals lynching, publicized as it was even before it took place, galvanized antilynching forces, became the centerpiece of Water Whites push for stronger federal antilynching laws, and even polarized the White House (Howard 64). 13 The Shoemaker lynching drew the ire of The Socialist Party of America and the American Civil Liberties Union, Florida newspapers, and scores of smaller organizations and individuals (Howard 83).

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165 Although Eatonville was peaceful and relatively isolated during Hurstons early life, Florida was riddled with racial violence throughout her childhood and adolescence, it was violent while she was largely out of the state in the first half of the 1920s, and it was still violent when she returned to conduct research later in the decade and to essentially settled in the state in 1932. None of this was lost on Hurston. While on an anthropological expedition in Florida in March of 1927, she wrote to Lawrence Jordan that crackers were not bothering her and that she hoped they dont begin [to] as I go farther down state (Kaplan 94). On the same expedition she began carrying a gunostensibly, by Hemenways telling, for the purpose of defending herself in the rough-and-tumble African-American labor communities that she was trying to mine for folktales, but such a measure of self-defense would have been prudent in the context of the states pervasive racial violence (Hemenway 111). 14 In 1938, while she was working for the Federal Writers Project in Florida, Hurston wrote an essay entitled The Ocoee Riot that she planned to include in a collection of essays entitled The Florida Negro. The project was never completed and The Ocoee Riot was never published in Hurstons lifetime, but the essay, a gritty journalistic description of the Ocoee incident that would have satisfied Lockes and Wrights demands for overtly political writing, stands as powerful evidence that Hurston was deeply affected by the states still vital tradition of racial violence. For all of its violence, Florida was still the only state in the South to experience positive migration in the early twentieth century. While scores of African-Americans were fleeing the South between 1900 and 1930, Floridas black population grew by nearly 100,000 with a gain of more than 54,000 African-Americans in the 1920s (Tolnay

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166 and Beck 214). Hurston, of course, was one of those 54,000, and she returned, in part, because she knew that a unique situation was brewing in Florida. In her introduction to Mules and Men, Hurston recalls telling Frans Boas that Florida is a place that draws peoplewhite people from all over the world, and Negroes from every Southern state surely and from some of the North and West (1). In Florida, she knew that it was possible . to get a cross section of the Negro South in the one state; the state was still a haven of blackness and Hurstons immersion in it amounted to a bold and defiant attempt to create a better environment for the practice of everyday black life and art than the one she found in Harlem. As early as 1929, Hurston had envisioned a community of black artists in Florida that would match Harlems solidarity and celebration of black life without its strictures and humiliations. In May 1929, she wrote Langston Hughes telling him that I have a chance to buy a beautiful tract of land slap on the Indian River, which as you probably know, passes for the most beautiful river in the world (Kaplan 145). She imagines a dandy club house right on the water and the entire parcel of land turned into A Negro art colony. You, and Wallie [Wallace Thurman], and Aaron Douglas and Bruce [Nugent] and me and all our crowd. . a little town of our own. . we could have lots of fun and a lovely place to retire and write on occasion . a neat little colony of kindred souls (145). She tells Hughes that no one had ever sold land on the Indian river to an African American but that the city council had already held a meeting and not only granted Hurston the right buy but also the right to sell to any of my friends so long as they belong to my social caste (145).

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167 Hurstons plan did not materializeat least in part because she, Hughes, and her other friends were just as dead broke as she perceived the people in Florida to bebut she was quite serious about the possibility of developing a black art community in the state (Kaplan 145). Beyond pushing the Indian River land issue to the point of city council meetings, she repeatedly discussed the possibility of developing a black art community in Florida with her friends over the better part of the next ten years. Despite the fact that her plans never came to fruition, after she left Harlem in 1932 Florida became the place where Hurston would conduct all of her serious artistic work throughout the rest of her career; it was her psychic and (usually) her literal home, where she would go when she needed to polish off a book without distractions or economic strictures (Kaplan 404). 15 At the same time, though, Hurston never envisioned her return to Florida as a retreat from the black art community or even necessarily as an abandonment of racial politics. Even more than a personal artistic haven, Hurston always thought of Florida as a site that was perfect for the development of an artistic community like the one she tried to develop on the Indian River. As soon as Hurston arrived in Florida in 1932, fresh off the heels of the pivotal talk with Alain Locke that apprised her of her standing with Charlotte Osgood Mason, she began trying to enact the vision of a black art community that had inspired the Indian River idea in 1929. This time, rather than trying to form what may best be called a personal refuge or commune, Hurston focused on founding a viable black theatre, which she attempted to accomplish in association with Rollins College and Bethune-Cookman College, and on founding schools of African-American art.

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168 In all of these endeavors, Hurston exuded optimism and felt that she was fulfilling dreams that she had shared for years with Mason and Locke. As she presented it to Osgood Grover, her attempt to found a theatre in the Eatonville area with the backing of Rollins College was an attempt to establish a real Negro theatre which she believed had still not developed in Harlem or anywhere else in the United States (Kaplan 259, emphasis added). It would be an opportunity, she wrote to Locke 1933, to build not just the [theatres] building but the heart, the reason for the building to be; and all of this meant that she would be doing some of the things that we used to dream of (Kaplan 281). As ambitious as Hurstons plans for a new theater were in their own right, they are all the more interesting because they are founded on a desire to create a type of counter-Harlem in Florida. In a 1933 letter to Mason, which insists, just as her letter to Locke does, that she is doing what you and I have dreamed of doing for so long, Hurston suggests that this particular project is more likely to succeed because she is no longer battling what she calls the handicap of Harlem (Kaplan 276). Thus unfettered, she believes that if we can give real creative urge a push forward here, the world will see a New Negro and justify our efforts. (Kaplan 276). Karla Kaplan points out that although the phrase New Negro was much in use among Harlem literati, Hurston used the phrase very rarely (276). In the context of the plans she is outlining in this letter to Mason, it is an intentional replication of the naming project that Alain Locke initiated with The New Negrojust as Lockes book called the Harlem Renaissance into being, Hurston co-opts his phrase to call into existence her own spatialized black renaissance in the heart of Florida. She believes that her theater at

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169 Rollins College will surpass by far . what has been done by Paul Green et al [in African-American drama] at the University of North Carolina; she writes that in addition to its special stress on music and drama this particular place encourages painting carving, sculptureall forms of art (Kaplan 276). Further developing her sense of central Florida as a new center of black art, she insists in a letter to Locke that we can build here a theatre that will be talked of around the world, and she asks Locke to imagine what could happen if the type of community she wants were to ever develop: if we had Bruce Nugent and one or two others. Lawd, Lawd! (Kaplan 282). Hurston had some success with drama at Rollins College and in and around Eatonville, but it ultimately proved grueling, unsustainable, and irregular work. Hurston made another concerted effort at establishing a genuine black theater in 1934 after being invited to Bethune-Cookman College in Daytona Beach. As she wrote to Carl Van Vetchen in January of 1934, the president of the college, Mary McCleod Bethune had recruited Hurston to establish a school of dramatic arts based on pure Negro expression at her school in Daytona Beach (288). Although Hurston wrote in that letter that she is after my own heart, her relationship with Bethune quickly soured and, as she explained to Thomas E. Jones when she was pursing a job at Fisk University, she shortly decided to abandon the farce of Bethune-Cookmans Drama Department (Kaplan 288, 318). 16 Despite being consistently disappointed by the institutions that supported her, Hurston continued to imagine the development of a black art community outside of Harlem. In 1937, when the Guggenheim Foundations Henry Allen Moe asked Hurston to identify causes that the his organization could support, she gave him the names of two black artists (Iven Tate, painter and elevator boy at Orange General Hospital, Orlando,

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170 Florida, and Ollie Stewart, a Baltimore-based writer) and suggested that that the foundation fund a school of music and dancing for all the Negroes (Kaplan 405). Although she does not specify where such a place should be built, the school that she envisions is still faithful to her original vision of a black art communes on the Indian River and at Rollins College: it would formalize and make respectable Negro musical methods. . [its] professors would be the people who make the songs and dances. It could be something more dynamic than most people would realize at first glance. It could support itself by concerts and tuition fees. [written in margin:] Imagine, Duke Ellington, Fats Waller, Louis Armstrong as guest professors! Ethel Waters, Bill Robinson, etc. (405, [written in margin] is Kaplans editorial note.). To some degree frustrated with her adventures in drama, Hurston turned to writing fiction. And in returning to this medium (she had not written fiction for years) Hurston launched a spatial project that was related to all of her plans for a black art communities in Florida. Rather than calling other black artists to a new place that she found more liberating than Harlem, Hurston began reterrirorializing Florida in the very sense that Gilles Deleuze and Flix Guattari use the term. Her narratives, with all of the cultural agency that Michel De Certeau grants to stories, reclaim what was a racially violent and volatile space for the practice of a vibrant African American everyday life that is deeply rooted and invested in the space it occupies. As Melvin Dixon explains in Ride Out the Wilderness: Geography and Identity in Afro-American Literature nature and wilderness have held central places in African American expression from the very beginning. In the earliest slave stories and songs, Dixon explains, nature and wilderness were both spiritual and physical locations of

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171 tribulation and salvationspaces, whether real or imaginary, outside of slavery that often had to be traversed at great peril in the process of gaining freedom. By the early twentieth century, though, African American thinkers like Booker T. Washington, W. E. B. Du Bois, and Jean Toomer were all rethinking nature in different ways. Hurston departed from them all. Washington, Du Bois, and Toomer, though they encounter nature in significantly different ways, all take for granted that Southern spaceincluding both its natural and built environmentsis essentially white space, or space under the absolute control of an oppressive white regime. Beginning with Jonahs Gourd Vine, however, Hurston begins to challenge this assumption of white control. In this novel, she follows a cast of central characters as they travel from Southern Alabama to the Florida panhandle and then into Eatonville and Central Florida. Their Eyes Were Watching God, however, pursues a program of spatial politics that is much more deliberate: she maps out a particular space for the practice of a vibrant black life and depicts an absolute physical, psychic, and spiritual immersion into the place that constitutes an entirely different method of discussing the environment than the white tradition that grew from Emerson. Before Hurston began her writing career, several ideas of nature and even a particularly Southern nature, were circulating amongst African American intellectuals. Not surprisingly, perhaps, Booker T. Washington was perfectly capable of slipping into a highly Emersonian rhetoric of nature as a recuperative retreat. In the middle of Up From Slavery (1901), for instance, he writes that next to time spent reading and telling stories with his family in his home, his favorite leisure activity is taking his family into the woods, where we can live for a while near the heart of nature, where no one can disturb

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172 or vex us, surrounded by pure air, the trees, the shrubbery, the flowers, and the sweet fragrance that springs from a hundred plants, enjoying the chip of the crickets and the songs of the birds (173). He calls this solid rest and adds that when he has the time, a half-hour in his garden at Tuskegee provides similar solace: When I can leave my office in time so that I can spend thirty or forty minutes in spading the ground, in planting seeds, in digging about the plants, I feel that I am coming into contact with something that is giving me strength for the many duties and hard places that await me out in the big world. I pity the man or woman who has never learned to enjoy nature and to get strength and inspiration out of it (173). Writing specifically about Dougherty County, Georgia, but describing a situation typical of the entire Black Belt, W. E. B. Du Bois abruptly states in The Souls of Black Folk (1903) that there is no leisure class of African-Americans in the American South (94). It is a phrase that sets Washingtons description of trips to the woods and dabbling in his garden in stark relief. The folk that Du Bois concerns himself with obviously do not spend their spare time in spading the ground, in planting seeds, in digging about the plants for fun. Their contact with the organic is a grinding struggle against soil and a tenant farming system that exhausts tenants and soil alike. They experience toil, like all farm toil, that is monotonous with the added impediment that there are little machinery and few tools to relieve its burdensome drudgery while the land that they work groans with its birth-pains, and brings forth scarcely a hundred pounds of cotton to the acre, where fifty years ago it yielded eight times as much (94, 85). For African Americans in the South, Du Bois argues, naturewrit soilwas oppressive field that could not even be freely navigated because the free movement of agricultural laborers is

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173 hindered by the migration-agent laws and the more general peonage system of white patronage [that] exists over large areas (98, 99). 17 Published later but still two years before Hurston arrived in Harlem, Jean Toomers Cane (1923) cast Southern space in different terms than either Washington or Du Bois. Toomer described it as a traversable spacea space that could be penetrated and exitedand found the places lush organic environment evocative of African origins. In the novel that made Toomer the darling of the Harlem Renaissance, the South is a region of sawmills and cotton factories that he gives to his readers in the glow of hazy afternoons and after the work-whistles have blown, in the sawdust glow and the velvet pine-smoke air of dusk; a place where men still go singing with race memories of king and caravan, / High-priests, an ostrich, and a juju-man (12). It is a place where, as in Carma, a dusty road under the right conditions (when the sun is hammered into a band of gold, when pine-needles, like mazda, are brilliantly aglow, when no rain has come to take the rustle from the falling sweet-gum leaves,) can cause a woman to return imaginatively to her ethnic originsto a goat path in Africa (10). Over the course of three books, Modernism and the Harlem Renaissance, Afro-American Poetics, and Workings of the Spirit, Houston Baker recognizes that Jean Toomer and Zora Neale Hurston were both engaged in spatial projects, but his work consistently takes for granted that Cane was both the catalyst for and, ironically, the a priori fulfillment of the Harlem Renaissance, while subtly suggesting that Alain Locke and Richard Wright were correct when they condemned Hurstons work for what they recognized as its abandonment of racial politics. Cane, Baker argues, fills the critical gap between Du Boiss The Souls of Black Folk and Lockes The New Negro. It fulfills Du

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174 Boiss vision for a cultural sound of blackness while performing the pathbreaking deformation of mastery (Bakers term that in this case suggests the blending of an Anglo-American modernist aesthetic project with the fluid and multiform mask of African ancestry) that makes the Harlem Renaissance possible (Modernism 56, 57). For Baker, the novel is the breakthrough into unmediated racial awareness that would carry Locke, The New Negro, and the Harlem Renaissance in general toward a new sense of black nationalism in the nineteen-twenties (Afro-American 101). It is an aesthetically masterful text that carries the universal appeal of a journey of an artistic soul toward creative fulfillment while also being unsparing in its criticism of the inimical aspects of black American heritage and resonant in its praise of the spiritual beauty to be discovered there (17-18). As he reanimates the centrality that Cane held in the Harlem Renaissance, Baker reasserts the aesthetic system that was deployed against Hurston, particularly when she published Their Eyes Were Watching God. Cane, for Baker as it was for Locke and Wright, is what black literature was supposed to be in the first decades of the twentieth centuryaesthetically modernist, immanently black, and undeniably cognizant of interracial conflict. The novel is surely valuable for what it says about the worst aspects of black American heritage, but it would not be recognized as the comprehensive expression of the moment if it had not included the the lynchings of Tom Burwell and Mame Lamkins. These two incidents, portrayed as vividly in Toomers text as lynchings often are in late twentieth century histories of lynching, connect the novel to what Baker calls the disfranchisement, lynchings, crop failures, and general miseries that defined

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175 the South during the periodthe very things that Locke, Wright, and, most recently, Hazel Carby, have all accused Hurston of abandoning (Modernism 76). 18 Thus, for Baker, Toomer is a figure who found his artistic breakthrough by navigating the spacethe valleys and lowlandsof Blackness itself while simultaneously working to construct a second ordered space or framework that will contain the black Americans complex existence, offer supportive values, and act as a guide for the perspective souls journey from amorphous experience to a finished work of art (101, 25). In a third book, The Workings of the Spirit, Baker acknowledgesjust as I am doing herethat Zora Neale Hurston, too, engaged in spatial work. And while his intent is clearly to redeem Hurston through a discussion of her spatial project, Baker still reasserts her secondary status just as he re-establishes Toomers centrality in both Modernism and The Harlem Renaissance and Afro-American Poetics. In the argument that stretches over these three works, Toomer is foundational to the early twentieth centurys emerging sense of an African American race spirit, to Harlems artistic movement, and to the new sense of a black nation that emerged out of Harlem. Hurston, on the other hand, is credited with creating an image space for black female creativitycertainly an important project, but a provincial one in comparison to that of Toomer, which Baker defines as national and racial in scope. Her Mules and Men (1935) is itself a locus classicus for black womens creativity because it accomplishes the instantiation (a word that marks time and suggests place) of the conjure woman as peculiar, imagistic, Afro-American space (282). Hurstons work, Baker recognizes, included seek[ing] a habitation beyond alienation and ancient disharmonies in a land where Africans have been scarred and battered, shackled in long rows on toilsome

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176 levees, and he argues that all of this cultural work (oddly, it is this term that Baker uses to describe Hurstons art) is performed within the space of conjurethe Sprit House of black womens creativity (304). Hurstons spatial project, while it does define the conjure woman as a space of healing, was much more ambitious than has been suggested by Baker or any other scholar of Hurston and the Harlem Renaissance. To return the language that Baker used to describe Toomers mission, Hurston was interested in instantiating a livable rather than a particularly ordered space for the practice of everyday black life; she was deeply critical of any kind of framework designed to contain the black Americans complex existence; she was dubious of attempts to guide souls toward any particular point, and she was even conflicted over what the term art should mean. Hurston had experienced framing, containing, and guiding in Harlemin her relationships with Fannie Hurst, Annie Nathan Meyer, Charlotte Osgood Mason, Alain Locke, and even Franz Boasand her return to Florida was in large part a response against it. The spatial project that she posed in novels like Jonahs Gourd Vine and Their Eyes Were Watching God, moreover, turned in the opposite direction: it strove to recapture a space that whites had tried (with considerable success) to strip away from African Americans through several decades of violence; to overcome the difficulties of centralized power and enforced homogeneity that attended the idea of black nationality just as they attend nationality in general; and to portray a spatial enmeshment that runs entirely counter to the dominant traditions of white environmental experience that I have discussed through the first five chapters of Looking Away.

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177 In the myriad vignettes of African-American life that Toomer presents in Cane, nothingor no onemoves. Dusty roads, like the one that Fern spends her days watching, often extend into the distance but no one travels them. When people do move, they go no place in particular, like Carma whom we find guiding a mule down the Dixie Pike; or they circulate on the fringes of the cane fields and firelight as Bob Stone is when he hears of his lovers infidelity; or they move from a sight of initial violence, as the people of Blood-Burning Moon do, to a site more appropriate for a lynching. For those, like Kabnis, who enter the South from the outside, the road into the South seems to be the only road, and it only goes back from whence it came. Jonahs Gourd Vine and Their Eyes Were Watching God, by contrast, include characters who traverse relatively broad expanses of space in what are essentiallyin the scope of the novels, in the context of her strained relationship with the cultural center of Harlem, and in the context of the spatial project that she sketches in her lettersacts of mapping and spatial reclamation that work to call Florida into being as a space where a vibrant African American life can be practiced. This all begins in Jonahs Gourd Vine as Hurston moves her protagonist, John Pearson, from Macon County, in the east central portion of Alabama, into the Florida panhandle and eventually into the heart of Central Florida where he moves freely between Wildwood, Sanford, Maitland, Eatonville, Oviedo, Orlando, and finally Plant City. Their Eyes Were Watching God amplifies the spatial project Hurston had begun in Jonahs Gourd Vine by offering a female rather than a male protagonist, by extending the project of spatial control to involve a struggle for the control of the (black) (female) self, and by converting the type of spatial navigation that John Pearson performs into a navigation of blackness (not just a navigation of space) so

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178 that the space under reclamation in the novel becomes blackspacea space where blackness can be freely lived and embraced. Their Eyes Were Watching God, like Jonahs Gourd Vine, moves first along the Florida panhandle, beginning in West Florida somewhere near Lake City, and then moves east to Green Cove Springs after Janie meets Joe Starks before diving into the heart of Central Florida: to Maitland and Eatonville and surrounding towns like Apopka, Ocala, Altamonte Springs, and Sanford. Eventually, after Janie meets Tea Cake, the novel moves to Jacksonville and then to the Everglades and Lake Okechobee, Clewiston, Belle Glade, Palm Beach, Fort Meyers, and Fort Lauderdale. Similar to the process of walking in cities that he describes in The Practice of Everyday Life, Janies navigation of Florida is what Michel de Certeau calls a process of appropriation of the topographical system (97). As Hurston moves Janie across the panhandle and down into the bowels of the state, she is using her characters movements to delimit the borders of a new space and, at the same time, found, authorize, or open a legitimate theater for practical actions (de Certeau 123). The practical actions that Hurston enacts in this theater of Janies creation are best described as acts of reterritorializationthe term that Gilles Deleuze and Flix Guattari use to describe the seizure of, or the enmeshment within, all of the milieus and rhythms of a particular location (Thousand Plateaus 314). For Deleuze and Guattari, space becomes a territory when a social body gains control of, and inhabits, the spaces milieus and rhythms, which is another way of describing what Henri Lefebvre calls the unlimited mulitiplicity or uncountable set of social spaces which we refer to generically as social space (86). For Deleuze and Guattari, just as for Lefebvre, space is multi-layered and historical. It begins with a

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179 bedrock physical or ecological space upon which layer after layer of social spaces (in Lefebvres terms) or milieus (in Deleuze and Guattaris terms)racial space, economic space, national space, etc.have been stacked. The South from the antebellum period to the early twentieth century, was an tightly controlled territory of white power within which African Americans had virtually no spatial agency. They could neither take possession of Southern space nor traverse it without the threat of violence; and, as it goes without saying, they were often lacked even the ability to control their own bodily space. It is in the process of appropriating and reterritorializing Floridian space that Hurston imagines a new relationship with nature that breaks entirely from the white literary traditionwith all of its tendencies toward abstraction, destruction, and disengagementthat extends from Emerson into the twentieth century. Hurston reveals in the opening sections of Their Eyes Were Watching God that the space Janie inhabits has been coded as a site of violence and domination since at least the mid-nineteenth centurythe period of her grandmothers youth. During the Civil War, Janies grandmother sought refuge from her masters wife in a swamp; Janies mother, Leafy, was raped by her schoolteacher (presumably a white man) in the woods. Whether a refuge or a site of violence, Hurstons nature was part of a very violent milieu. Its rhythms involved desperate flights, rapes, and (although they never actually take place in Jonahs Gourd Vine or Their Eyes) lynchings like the ones that Toomer describes in Cane. Within the new territory that Hurston marks out for Janie, though, the natural world is coded differently. No longer a site of violence, it is rather, the objective correlative for Janies personal development, an omnipresent reminder of African

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180 spirituality, and a link to the most authentic forms of blackness. Janie lives her life trying to achieve the level of ecstasy that she sees in the world around her from the moment that she comes of age under a blossoming pear tree watching a dust-bearing bee sink into the sanctum of a bloom; the thousand sister-calyxes arch to meet the love embrace and the ecstatic shiver of the tree from root to tiniest branch creaming in every blossom and frothing with delight (10). Each of Janies relationshipswith Logan Killicks, Joe Starks, and Vergible Woodsis initiated as an attempt to fulfill his vision of ideal marriage. In the end, only Vergible Woods, Tea Cake, could be a bee to a blossoma pear tree blossom in the spring; beyond fulfilling this vision of her youth, though, Tea Cake transports Janie to the Everglades, a place that Hurston portrays as the highly organic epicenter of all she believed Florida to be (106). In the Everglades, Janie lives alongside blacks from all over the South and the Caribbean as well in what is an unmistakably Pan-African community, and she finds herself both awash in and central to a welter of explicitly black expression (Wall 189). In de muck, Hurston writes, jooks clanged and clamored; there were pianos living three lifetimes in one; there was dancing fighting, singing, crying, laughing, winning and losing love every hour (128, 131). Eventually Janie and Tea Cakes home was full of people every night. That is, all around the doorstep was full. Some were there to hear Tea Cake pick the box; some came to talk and tell stories, but most of them came to get into whatever game was going on or might go on (133). The scene that Hurston describes is Harlem without patronage and race leadership and with some measure of financial self-sufficiency. 19 It is black expression unbound, run amuck, and surprisingly democratic. Here, for the first time, Janie could present

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181 herself however she wantedeven in the blue denim overalls and heavy shoes that she would return to Eatonville wearingand she could listen and laugh and even talk some herself if she wanted to. She got so she could tell big stories herself from listening to the rest (134). As she moves Janie and Tea Cake into the black community that they find in the Everglades, Hurston fashions their descent into the muck as an immersion in an organic blackness. Here in the muck, nature is big, fertile, and black. It is unruly like the places distinctively black culture, but even more soit is always at least potentially out of control, it is always essentially uncontrollable, and it is powerful enough to overthrow the systems of exploitation that work to control it. The muck is defined by its big beans, big cane, big weeds, big everything, and all of its bigness is credited to dirt so rich and black that a half mile of it would have fertilized a Kansas wheatfield (129 emphasis added). This dirt is physical in a way that surpasses anything in Emersons oeuvre. It adds its own blackness to the black bodies that work in it so that always, as they work all day for money, fight all night for love, there is the rich black earth clinging to bodies and biting the skin like ants (131). Janie and Tea Cake are ultimately driven from the Evergladesand Tea Cake eventually dieswhen a hurricane hits the Everglades and Lake Okechobee breaches the dykes and levees that contain it. As tragic as they are, though, the hurricane and the flood are the fulfillment of everything that Janie and Tea Cake had loved about the Everglades. As Philip Joseph writes, unruliness is of course part of the point of the place for Tea Cake and Janie, and these two catastrophic events bring everything that had always been there in the muckthe power, the unruliness, the recklessness, the elemental forceto

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182 its fullest expression (471). For all of the human suffering that ensues, Hurston describes the hurricane and the subsequent flood as the triumph of this nature, which she identifies as an immanently black nature throughout the novel, over white bondage. With the hurricane coming, Okechobee becomes a restless monster that began to roll and complain behind the seawalls that were used to chain the senseless monster in his bed (158). At the height of the hurricane, Hurston writes of the lake that the monstropolous beast had left its bed. He seized hold of his dikes and ran forward until he met the quarters; uprooted them like grass and rushed on after his supposed-to-be conquerors, rolling the dikes, rolling the houses, rolling the people in the houses along with other timbers. The sea was walking the earth with a heavy heel (161). After the hurricane, Hurstons project of spatial reterritorialization is essentially complete. When the hurricane ends, Tea Cake is forced to participateat gunpointin the collection and burial of the bodies of storm victims (with the whites receiving proper burials and the blacks receiving mass graves) in Palm Beach; Tea Cake and Janie eventually escape back to the Everglades where Janie ultimately has to kill Tea Cake while he is in a state of rabid insanity; Janie is acquitted of her crime by an all-white judge and jury while she is condemned for her actions in the court of black public opinion; and Janie returns to Eatonville alone. Although the novel confesses the enduring presence of white power in the Palm Beach episode, and although it offers a puzzling and harsh critique of Janies black community as Janie sits in the judgment of a white judge and jury that acquit her of murdering Tea Cake and a black community that wants her to be found guilty, the first two-thirds of Their Eyes Were Watching God conjure into being just what Hurston had

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183 wanted since she announced her plan to buy land on the Indian River in 1929: a space where black life could be livedand where art could be createdoutside of the humiliating patronage systems of Harlem. Hurston was never able to secure the type of permanent institutional support that would allow her to actually create a spatially-specific artistic renaissance in the South, but her stories, it must not be forgotten, work to accomplish the same purpose. They are, in the words of de Certeau, culturally creative act[s] that authorize, or more exactly, . found. . legitimate theater[s] for practical actions (123). And in the end, the space that Hurston founds is not an abstract spacein the Emersonian modethat allows for the exploitation and destruction of the physical world, but rather an organic and immanently physical space within which a rich and vibrant African-American life can be practiced without fear, humiliation, or apology. Notes 1 For recent examinations of Faulkners understanding of the environment and his engagement with environmental problems, see Lawrence Buells Faulkner and the Claims of the Natural World, Wiley C. Prewitt, Jr.s Return of the Big Woods: Hunting and Habitat in Yoknapatawpha, Bart Wellings A Meeting with Old Ben: Seeing and Writing Nature in Faulkners Go Down, Moses and Judith Bryant Wittenbergs Go Down, Moses and the Discourse of Environmentalism. For all of these critics, Go Down, Moses is Faukners most important discussion of the environment, but otherand earlier textsalso engage the problem of the natural world. Faulkner establishes that the natural world is very important to his idea of masculinity in his 1929 novel Sartoris (Sartoris was heavily edited before its original publication, and it was reissued in 1973 in its original form as Flags in the Dust), and he offers several important comments on nature in lectures that he delivered at the University of Virginia (which are collected in Faulkner in the University) and in an essay entitled Mississippi (which is included in his Essays, Speeches and Public Letters). 2 Fire!! was primarily the work of Hurston, Langston Hughes, and Wallace Thurman, but a much larger circle of artists that had some bearing on the ultimate shape of the short-lived journal (only one issue was ever printed). This larger group, which Hurston and her friends called the Niggerati included Bruce Nugent, Aaron Douglas, John P. Davis, Helene Johnson, Dorothy West, Gwendolyn Bennett, Augusta Savage, Countee Cullen, Harold Jackman, and Dorothy Peterson (Hemenway 43).

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184 3 Here and throughout this chapter I rely on the upon Robert Hemenways Neale Hurston: A Literary Biography and Valerie Boyds Wrapped in Rainbows: The Life of Zora Neale Hurston for information about Hurstons life. Where I rely specifically on a particular biography, or where they differ, I will be specific about the source of my information. 4 Boyd offers a concise description of the rent and salary situation that Hurston would have faced in Harlem: Harlems rents were twelve to thirty dollars a month higher than in other areas of the city, although black New Yorkers earned lower salaries than their white counterparts. In the mid-1920s, thirty dollars was a significant chunk of money, equal to about $300 today. Still, a 1924 Urban League study found that Negroes paid from 40 percent to 60 percent higher rents than white people for the same class of apartmentsand segregated housing practices did not give black folks the option to just move out of Harlem and into more affordable New York neighborhoods. As a result, the average Harlem resident spent an astonishing 40 percent of his or her income on rent. (94-95) 5 Hurston understood, perhaps better than anyone else involved in the Harlem Renaissance, that the patronage system required performances of dependence, and the type of abjection that I am identifying here is precisely the type of sentiment that Hurston knew she could manipulate in order to get what she wantedfunding. The degree to which Hurston was in control of her own situation has been a subject of debate for more than thirty years. In Harlem Renaissance (1971), for instance, Nathan Huggins acknowledges that in the opinion of Louise Thompson (a close friend of Hurstons and a fellow employee of Charlotte Osgood Mason), Hurston was actively manipulating her patrons (130). Basing his judgment largely on Thompsons opinion, Huggins suggests that Hurstons relationship with her primary patron was the expression of a flaw in Hurstons character. She had, Huggins believed, an innate dependency that made it easy for her to be the exuberant pagan that pleased her white friends (130). More recent critics, like Tiffany Ruby Patterson, Ralph D. Story, and M. Genevieve West, though, insist that what Huggins perceives as pandering was in fact Hurstons canny ability to manage the people she needed to manage so that she could perform her artistic and anthropological work at a time when no other means of self-support were available to black female artists (or non-Ph.D. holding anthropologists, for that matter). 6 Boas was disappointed with the end results of Hurstons first anthropological mission and Hurston stood before him even more humiliated because of all that he had done to make the trip possible in the first place. 7 Hurston describes this psychic connection in Dust Tracks on a Road, where she states that both Max Eastman and Richmond Barthe also shared a similar connection with Mason (128). Cheryl Wall adds that Alain Locke and Hall Johnson also testified to psychic experiences with their benefactor, but, perhaps most important of all, Wall also recognizes that Whatever other powers she possessed, and Charlotte Mason

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185 believed devoutly that they were telepathic, the power to write checks was paramount (154). 8 Du Bois believed that African-American art should be propagandistic and fundamentally disagreed with Alain Lockes idea that Beauty rather than Propaganda should be the object of Negro literature and art (Lorini 160). His quarrel, of course, was not with Locke alonehe resisted the entirety of what Barbara Foley calls the culturalist turn of Black art in the early twentieth century, which included much of the art that was produced during the Harlem Renaissance. For a full treatment of Du Boiss aesthetic, see Alessandra Lorinis The Spell of Africa is Upon Me: W. E. B. Du Boiss Notion of Art at Propaganda. For a much broader discussion of early twentieth century African American race politics and the ways that aesthetic arguments involved politics, see Barbara Foleys Spectres of 1919: Class and Nation in the Making of the New Negro. 9 Stewart E. Tolnay and E. M. Becks A Festival of Violence: An Analysis of Southern Lynchings, 1882-1930 is currently the definitive record of Southern lynching and I rely heavily upon it throughout the next several pages. Other texts that have proven invaluable to my understanding of lynching in the South include Without Sanctuary: Lynching Photography in America by Allen, Als, Lewis, and Litwack, At the Hands of Persons Unknown by Philip Dray, Lynchings: Extralegal Violence in Florida during the 1930s by Walter T. Howard, Whitewash in Florida: The Lynching of Jesse James Payne and Its Aftermath by Jack E. Davis, Rosewood and America in the Early Twentieth Century by David R. Colburn, and Booker T. Washingtons Tour of the Sunshine State, March 1912 by David H. Jackson. 10 The most well-known example of legal lynching is the Scottsboro case that took place in Alabama between 1931 and 1937. As Leon T. Howard summarizes this case, In 1931 white southerners in Alabama convicted nine black youths of raping two white women, and sentenced eight of them to death. Although, as events proved, the evidence and facts clearly indicated innocence, white authorities carried out a series of legal lynchings by repeatedly convicting and sentencing these victimized young men (even though higher courts of appeal kept overturning these convictions) (22). 11 For a fuller account of the Ocoee riot, see Patterson. 12 Shoemaker may have been a socialist, but the political projects that he was pursuing in Tampa were not radically socialist. As Howard explains, he was a New Deal democrat who found himself in life-threatening trouble because he was simultaneously challenging the citys corruption and making ill-advised statements that overstated his socialism. According to Howard, his most serious error in judgement was reflected I his bold, provocative statement that the biggest cooperative enterprise in the United States is the post office. Is this communism? If so, we want more of it (81). In response to Tampas corrupt municipal politics, Shoemaker organized the Modern Democrats, a left wing party, that prepared to run a slate of candidates in the November general election. This new party reflected the views of its founder, who was a moderate social democrat

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186 who sympathized with FDRs New Deal policies and the outlook of the liberal wing of the Democratic Party. Moreover, the Modern Democrats were committed to the classical socialist principal that production should be for human use rather than profit. Shoemaker fearlessly argued his case in a series of letters that appeared in the editorial pages of the Tampa Tribune. He advocated such innovations as public ownership of utilities, free hospital care for the needy, monthly investigations of city departments, an effective referendum law, and a system whereby the unemployed could produce goods for their use (Howard 81). 13 Walter White exchanged letters with Elanor Roosevelt on a fairly regular basis and according to Howard, he exerted great pressure on the White House over the Neale incident . . largely through Elanor (65). White asked Elanor and President Roosevelt to make a public statement denouncing lynchings in light of the recent horrible instance involving Neal (65). According to a note that she sent to the president, Elanor was in favor of the idea, but the president found the subject to volatile and went no further than pledging support for anti-lynching legislation. 14 Kaplan also discusses Hurstons gun. As is my own inclination, Kaplan is less concerned than Hemenway that Hurston got the gun after having a knife drawn on her while she was working and collecting stories at the Everglades Cypress Lumber Company, which was near Loughman, Florida. Kaplan rightly suggests that Hurston must have felt exposed to any number of dangers because of the sheer oddity of her situation: she was traveling in blistering heat, sleeping in her car when colored hotel rooms couldnt be had, defending herself against jealous women, putting up with bedbugs, lack of sanitation, and poor food in some of the turpentine camps, sawmills, and phosphate mines she visited. Evidently, she cut an unusual figure: a single, black woman, driving her own car, toting a gun, sometimes passing for a bootlegger, offering prize money for the best stories and lies (52). 15 Hurstons letters suggest that this sense of Florida as a personal artistic haven was particularly strong in the late 1930s. In an August 1937 letter to Henry Allen Moe, for instance, Hurston wrote, from Haiti, that as soon as I land in New York and talk to you and Lippincott I shall head for Florida to polish off this volume. . I cant do so well here because now the material is engulfing me (Kaplan 404). Projecting a stronger sense of the economic factors that sent Hurston to work in the South, she wrote to Carl Van Vetchen in February of 1938, from Matiland, Florida, that she had ducked off down here for two reasons. One reason was that I just had to come, and the other was that I wanted to. I had to come because I could not stay in New York until I had made some more money. And I knew that I could get some as soon as I hand in the script for the book on Haiti. Then too, I wanted to come and get it out of the way so that I could get back to work on FAN THE LADY. Having the tail end of the book hanging over my head was ruining my entire life. I could not work very fast in New York so I rand down here to finish it quick (Kaplan 412-413).

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187 16 Hurstons letter to Jones offers her fullest explanation of exactly what went wrong at Bethune-Cookman. She explains that I found it impossible to do anything worthwhile for (A) student body of only 226 and the same students wee needed for all the Choral groups, Major athletics, social groups, various dramatic groups at the same time (317). Beyond the difficulties posed by the student body, Hurston reports that President Bethune placed ridiculous demands upon her while refusing to offer her any administrative support when she needed it and that her work was constantly underfunded (Kaplan 317-18) 17 In her recent Shades of Darkness: Race and Environmental History, Carolyn Merchant declares that the field of environmental history has come to recognize that slavery and soil degradation are interlinked systems of exploitation, and deep-seated connections exist between the enslavement of human bodies and the enslavement of the land (37). 18 In Cane, the lynchings of Tom Burwell and Mame Lamkins occur in Blood-Burning Moon and Kabnis, respectively. In the first story, Bob Stone attacks Tom Burwell and is eventually killed by him, and then Tom is attacked by a mob, dragged to an abandoned factory where he is tied to a stake and burned alive. Toomer offers the scene in gruesome detail: Now Tom could be seen within the flames. Only his head, erect, lean, like a blackened stone. Stench of burning flesh soaked the air. Toms eyes popped. His head settled downward. The mob yelled (34). Mame Lamkins is killed in the street for attempting to hide her husband when the mob was hunting for him. As with the earlier lynching, Toomer offers this one in grim detail: They killed her in th street, an some white man seein th risin in her stomach as she lay thee soppy in her blood like any cow, took an ripped her belly open, an th kid fell out. It was living; but a nigger baby aint supposed t live. So he jabbed his knife in it an stuck it t a tree. An then they all went away (90). 19 Although it is fairly easy to deconstruct the situation that Janie and Tea Cake find in the Everglades (after all, they are performing seasonal work, they are living in company housing, and they are essentially migrant workers), the wages that workers like Janie and Tea Cake would have received were perceived as fairly lucrative by such prominent figures as Bishop Henry McNeal Turner. David H. Jackson writes that Turner believed that Florida was a paradise for blacks and a place where they could make a lot of money, ostensibly doing precisely the type of work that Janie and Tea Cake perform in Their Eyes Were Watching God.

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CHAPTER 7 THERE WILL ALWAYS BE A LAST GOOD COUNTRY, OR ERNEST HEMINGWAY AND AMERICAN LITERATURES LEGACY OF ENVIRONMENTAL DISENGAGEMENT In the end, American Literatures environmental legacy is a chronicle of disengagement theorized by Emerson, promoted by Thoreau, and privileged by critics from Fuller and Twain to Santayana, Brooks, and Fiedler. In the first two-thirds of the twentieth century, Cather and Steinbeck both knewmuch as Cooper did early in the nineteenth centurythat the United States was rapidly wrecking the North American continent. They criticized the national culture of environmental destruction and they retreated into Emersonian modes of environmental abstraction to preserve their positions within the field of the literary and escape the dangers of public activism. As the case of Zora Neale Hurston demonstrates, it was possible to escape the Emersonian tradition of environmental abstraction, but the alternative environmental image space that she cleared in the 1930s would remain largely unpopulated for several more decades until writers like Henry Beston and Rachel Carson began shedding the mantle of Emersonian abstraction and anthropomorphism and Edward Abbey began to remake Emerson and Thoreau into the forebears of a new and radical environmentalism. By the middle of the twentieth century, it was not Cather, Steinbeck, or Hurston who best represented American Literatures evasive environmental politicsthey, after all, had worked in various ways and with varying degrees of success to abandon the fields long tradition of abstraction, avoidance and disengagement. Perhaps more than 188

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189 any other author, it was Ernest Hemingway who unabashedly carried the Emersonian tradition of environmental evasion into the twentieth century and ultimately granted it its fullest expression. Hemingway was raised to believe in Theodore Roosevelts program of vigorous outdoor activity and to appreciate nature in the respective spiritual and scientific modes of John Burroughs and Louis Agassiz. His writingsfrom the beginning to the end of his careercontain such an aptitude for naturalistic observation that critics still agree with Alfred Kazins judgment that no nature writer in all American literature save Thoreau has had Hemingways sensitiveness to color, to climate, to the knowledge of physical energy under heat or cold, that knowledge of the body thinking and moving through a landscape (334). 1 What I wish to offer as I bring Looking Away to a close is obviously a contrarian view of Hemingways relationship with the environment. Despite his commitment to observation and his penchant for naturalistic description, Hemingway practiced a politics of environmental evasion that is remarkable because of the lengths it goes in In Our Time (1925) and Green Hills of Africa (1935) to preserve an idea of a perpetually virgin and perpetually available natural world. 2 Even acknowledging the global patterns of environmental destruction that threaten the natural spaces that he loves, Hemingway fixes his gaze on a metonym of environmental openness that he casts into perpetuity within the complex form of In Our Time, and he suggests in Green Hills of Africa that good country or virgin land will always be available somewhere in the world for those who are willing to pursue a Thoreauvean plan of environmental imperialism.

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190 The Circular Trajectory of Environmental Openness in In Our Time For Hemingway and his characters, nature needs to survive for the same reasons that Emerson, Thoreau, and Faulkner all needed it to endure: it is a place where masculinity can be earned, practiced, and reasserted; where those who have been emasculated by the cramp and confinement (and war) of urban (or modern) life can be regenerated; where origins can be experienced; where white fantasies of conquest and dominance can be re-lived. The natural world serves all of these functions in the stories of In Our Time. In Indian Camp, Nick Adams walks down logging roads and into a camp of Native American lumber workers to undergo an initiation into gendered violence that simultaneously reasserts his fathers medical skill and capacity for brutality on the body of a Native American woman. 3 In The End of Something Nick breaks up with his first girlfriend while surrounded by second-growth forest and the ruins of an abandoned sawmill, in Three-Day Blow he experiments with a form of adult masculinity by getting drunk and re-entering the second-growth forest with a gun, and in Cross Country Snow, Nick uses the natural world as a retreat from domesticity and a pregnant girlfriend. Finally, in Big Two-Hearted River, Nick retreats into an isolated and approximately virginal riverbank to recover, presumably, from the trauma of World War I. As Susan F. Beegel has argued, Hemingways descriptions of nature throughout In Our Time display a naturalists observational aptitude and scientific perspective. Despite the fact that he can describe nature, though, Hemingway consistently refuses to engage environmental loss in the psychological and ethical terms that drove Cather to her dark critique of Jim Burdens conflicted form of nature loving and Steinbeck to all of his (and his characters) attenuated means of environmental preservation. In fact, although

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191 he was particularly equipped to see, record, and understand the consequences of the types of environmental destruction that he and his works witness, Hemingway works quite explicitly against any admission of environmental fragility, destructibility, or limitability. He accomplishes this in In Our Time primarily by constricting his (and Nicks) narrative gaze in Big Two-Hearted River and by then casting this storys contrived sense of perpetual environmental openness into both a historical loop that is contained within the stories of In Our Time and into an unknowable future, both of which are implied by In Our Times terminal vignetteLEnvoi. In her 1926 review of In Our Time, Ruth Suckow calls Big Two-Hearted River one of the books best stories. And she attributes its greatness to the fact that it is an embodiment in prose of a very real event of the periodyoung men going back to nature in an effort to slough off the typical disillusion of youth after the war (26). The short story itself says nothing explicitly about the war, but as Kenneth S. Lynn recognizes in The Troubled Fisherman, this has not prevented a powerful body of scholarship from keeping Suckows interpretation alive. In his 1932 Ernest Hemingway: Bourdon Gauge of Morale, for instance, Edmund Wilson asserts without any equivocation that Big Two-Hearted River expresses a post-World War I malaise and that Hemingway was the archetypal representative of a war-scarred lost generation (Lynn 151). Twelve years later, in his introduction to Vikings 1944 Portable Hemingway, Malcolm Cowley refreshed the old interpretation by again implying that Hemingways fisherman, like Hemingway himself, was a war veteran who was trying to block out fear-ridden recollections of being wounded by returning to the bosom of nature (Lynn 152). The only significant change in the critical reception of this particular

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192 short story since the foundational interpretations of Suckow, Wilson, and Cowley has been a mild de-emphasis of World War I. Even within this slight interpretive shift, though, the story remains a return to origins, a return to the eternal verities of a very simplistic and idealized nature that offers harmony and regeneration (Strychacz 82). What interests me most with Big Two-Hearted River, though, are the lengths to which Hemingway and Nick Adams have to go in order to construct an approximately virgin space out of a larger area that bears all of the markings of human destruction and to imagine that this virgin nature will always remain in its current unpenetrated stateparticularly considering everything that In Our Time itself says about the modern worlds particular knack for destructibility of nature. Big Two-Hearted River, after all, begins with Nick stepping off of a train into a ravaged landscape. Where the town of Seney had once stood, there was no town, nothing but the rails and the burned-over country (133). Nick dismisses the grim fate of the town by thinking that it was burned, the country was burned over and changed, but it did not matter. It could not all be burned (134-35). He then walks until he passes out of the burned zone, into a pine forest, and eventually into the area immediately surrounding the part of the river that he wants to fish Nicks ultimate destination is a place on the river that bears no physical reminders of the natural worlds finitude and fragility or of its particularly precarious status in the twentieth century. Once there, in the bosom of what is, for all appearances, a virgin nature, Nick works to choke his mind whenever it starts to work, which includes an effort to suppress his memory of the years before when he had fished crowded streams, with fly fishermen ahead of him and behind him where again and again he had come

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193 upon dead trout, furry with white fungus, drifted against a rock, or floating belly up in some pool (142, 149). Isolated in this patch of river, totally unconcerned with what lies on the fringes of the space he has cordoned off for himself or what his memory may foretell for the river he is enjoying at the moment, Nick moves steadily toward a dark an inscrutable swamp that contains all that he and Hemingway want the natural world to be: a dark, threateningly virginic, and dangerous space that is penetrable to anyone with the requisite skill and desire but suspended in a state of defiant openness. In the final gesture of the story, which closes Big Two-Hearted River and the entire sequence of conventional short stories that span In Our Time, Nick reflects that there were plenty of days coming when he could fish the swamp (156). By all conventional standards, this is a fairly unproblematic end for both Big Two-Hearted River and In Our Times sequence of major stories, but it is neither such a simple ending nor the end of the book. The end of Big Two-Hearted River formally encloses and thereby preserves the state of ecological openness and availability that brought Nick Adams to the river in the first place. Hemingway leaves the iconic swamp suspended in an unpenetrated state of availability and sends its availability forward into an ahistorical future that by the end of the story is clearly being imagined without any thought to the scene around Seney, Nicks memory of ruined rivers, or the patterns of environmental destruction that slip into the earlier stories of In Our Time. The preservation of ecological openness that Hemingway accomplishes with the end of Big Two-Hearted River is amplified by the vignette that immediately follows it, LEnvoi, which is In Our Times final story of any sort. Filling less than one page like

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194 all of the vignettes but bearing a title like only On the Quai at Smyrna, the terminal story is written in the voice of a Western journalist and describes a deposed Greek king working in his garden as he awaits the judgment of a victorious revolutionary committee (157). The vignette ends with the narrator commenting that Like all Greeks the king wanted to go to America (157). Predictably, LEnvoi has been interpreted as a closing gesture that recommends American democracy as the solution to the revolutions that appear throughout In Our Time, but even when politics are excluded from the hermeneutic frame, the story has been generally understood as a relatively conventional act of closure. For David J. Leigh, LEnvoi throws an ironic shadow over the entire movement of Nick Adamss education into disillusionment, for Strychacz it constitutes an acquiescence to the inversions and chaotic displacements that riddle the entire book, and for Linda W. Wagner it completes the emptiness of the collection by universalizing Nick Adamss limitations and disillusionment (134, 84, 123). Any claim of closure, however, ignores the openness and motion that are implied in very title of LEnvoi. As Alan Bass has explained in the process of translating Jacques Derridas The Post Card: From Socrates to Freud and Beyond, envoi is one form of the Frech verb, envoyer, to send, which is derived from the Latin inviare, to send on the way, and that as a noun envoi means the action of sending, something that is sent (especially in the sense of message, missive, or dispatch), and the concluding stanza of a ballad that typically serves as a dedication (xxxxi). To invoke such a word is to throw everything into what Derrida describes in The Post Card as a postal system of knowledge where all knowledge is always moving, always dynamic, and only available for interpretation at momentary posts, or stopping points in their activity of

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195 circulation. To invoke the envoi is to subject the message of this text to the terrors of loss and interception, to all of the potentialities of linguistic, historical, and interpretive play, and to the extension of the text beyond itself, its own history, and its author. At the very least, and in the face of all these risks, invoking the envoi constitutes an opening-up rather than narrative closure or an insular hermeneutic system. 4 By its very title, then, LEnvoi evokes several key questions: if In Our Time is to be sent off, where is Hemingway sending it, and what, precisely, is this text that he is sending into the system of knowledge that Derrida calls the Great Telematic Network (Derrida 27)? To answer the first question first, LEnvoi forces In Our Time to arch backward upon itself and leap forward into an indefinite future, and the message that In Our Time transmits is largely a record of violence, revolution, and interpersonal turmoil within which only natureenclosed and suspended in the state of ecological openness that Hemingway creates in Big Two-Hearted Riverendures unchanged, unthreatened, and defended form even the idea of obliteration. Thematically, the story that LEnvoi tells, with its revolution and Greek king, returns to On the Quai at Smyrnathe books first story, which is also set in Greece during a climactic historical moment, and suggests that In Our Times thematic concerns constitute a closed cycle without an end. For all of its recursive themes and narratives, however, the final vignette is still an envoi and it still jettisons all of In Our Times narratives of revolution, violence, and virgin natureas cyclical as they are within the text itselfinto the twentieth century. Bad Faith in Green Hills of Africa When Hemingway engages the condition of the natural world in his 1935 Green Hills of Africa it is as if he has entered Derridas network, intercepted the envoi that he cast into the web in In Our Time, and set about reconfiguring his earlier act of

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196 environmental evasion. In Our Time betrays an awareness of environmental destruction, looks away from it, and creates an image of perpetually available and pristine natural space that it encloses within its generic structure and sends into the future. Green Hills of Africa, on the other hand, acknowledges that environmental degradation is a global phenomenon, looks it plainly in the face, and bluntly disregards it. And while In Our Time offers complex aesthetic hedges against the threat of environmental annihilation, Green Hills of Africa recommends an environmental imperialism that fulfills, in the worst possible ways, Thoreaus command to encounter wilderness at any cost. Thoreau writes in Walden that we need the tonic of wilderness; he argues that we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be infinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable, that we must be refreshed by the sight of inexhaustible vigor, vast and titanic features, and that We need to witness our own limits transgressed by the natural world (298, emphasis added). As I have already explained, Thoreau suggests that we satisfy this need for nature by turning to the unexplored forests and meadows that surround our village, by exploring the wilderness of the self, andif nothing else worksby searching for authentic wilderness experience in the four corners of the Earth (298). His call is to be the Mungo Park, the Lewis and Clark and Frobisher of the streams and oceans, the higher latitudes, and the whole new continents of the self, and to go round the world searching for wilderness only till you can do betteruntil, that is, you can Explore thyself (301302). The necessity of nature and the necessity of contact with wilderness are just as palpable in Hemingways work, but, rather than pursuing the type of inquest that Thoreau

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197 describes, Hemingway literalizes Thoreaus colonialist metaphors and proceeds as if Thoreaus secondary solutiona global search for wildernessis a legitimate, justifiable, and sustainable response to American, or Western, environmental destruction. Green Hills of Africa is a somber requiem for Africa. 5 It appreciates the continents beauty, but it recordseven shows Hemingway participating inits destruction. It often speaks of Africa as a rutted, shot-out, and used-up country that the West has driven to the brink of death, but it justifies the course of Western empire and acquiesces to its environmental costs. In the space of two crucial paragraphs, Hemingway admits that he is aware of environmental destruction, that he understands environmental destruction as a symptom of Western imperialism, and that he has no fundamental problem with any of it. He writes that a continent ages quickly once we come. The natives live in harmony with it. But the foreigner destroys, cuts down the trees, drains the water, so that the water supply is altered and in a short time the soil, once the sod is turned over, is cropped out and, next, it starts to blow away as it has blown away in every old country and as I had seen it start to blow in Canada. (284, emphasis added) Hemingway clearly statesand without any sense of ironythat A country was made to be as we found it, that we are . intruders, and that we are those who ruin these same countries. In the same breath, though, he argues that this we (presumably Americans) has the right to go somewhere else as we had always had the right to go somewhere else and as we had always gone (284, emphasis added). In his tight interweaving of imperialism and environmental destruction, Hemingway refuses to admit the environmental implications of his own textthat by the mid-twentieth century the perpetual existence of virgin lands (or last good countries) anywhere is supremely tenuous. In the face of all he has written, he simply insists that the same type of good

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198 places that had always been available to our people would continue to exist into perpetuity for those willing to seek them out (285). As I have shown throughout Looking Away, authors from Jeremy Belknap and James Fenimore Cooper to Willa Cather and John Steinbeck all recognized, at various moments, that Western expansion could cause massive ecological change (Belknap, among others, even thought that it could cause climatic change) and that a country was made to be as we found it. In her description of Lake Okechobee straining to break its bonds, Hurston had even suggested several years before Hemingway wrote Green Hills that the earth gets tired of being exploited. At the same time, all of these authors resisted wanton environmental destruction in significant ways. Cather and Steinbeck refused to pursue courses of radical environmental politics, but they still called attention to the absurdities and contradictions of early twentieth-century U. S. land ethics. Cooper ultimately consigned both Native Americans and the North American environment to destruction, but the narratives he tells are at least conflicted over the issues. Jeremy Belknap and Timothy Dwight both delighted in seeing forests fallthey gave instructions on how to accomplish it whenever they couldbut even they excoriated the type of wastefulness that Hemingway describes, and they were at least pursuing goals that they believed to be just rather than capitulating, as Hemingway is, to processes that they found regrettable. Beyond their unparalleled acquiescence to environmental exploitation, these two particular paragraphs are remarkable because they demonstrate just how untenable Hemingways response to environmental destruction is. He concedes environmental destruction, asserts a right to seize good country wherever in the world it may exist,

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199 and acts as if it will always exist. He insists, that is, on the type of environmental openness that he formulates in In Our Time, and he preserves his faith in it by adopting an Emersonian gaze that takes the portion of the Gulf Stream that flows by Havana as a metonym of environmental health and perpetuity. The Gulf Stream comes to Hemingway in a reverie that he experiences in the process of penetrating a new country, and despite the fact that Green Hills of Africa spends three hundred pages suggesting that no pocket of wilderness is safe from the appearance of Europeans or Americas in jeeps bearing rifles, the Gulf Stream reassures Hemingway that nature is timeless, perpetual, and immutable. This Gulf Stream, he writes, has moved, as it moves, since before man . since before Columbus, and it will flow, as it has flowed, after the Indians, after the Spaniards, after the British, after the Americans and after all the Cubans and all the systems of governments . are all gone (150) The Gulf Stream is for Hemingway what horizons and night skies are for Jim Burden and Alexandra Bergson: an Emersonian metonym for natures illimitability, perpetuity, and immunity to human destruction that is always available to neutralize any sense of anxiety over environmental destruction taking place on the ground. It directs Hemingways gaze away from the African scene, the new country that he is penetrating, and removes the threat of environmental destruction to another global space and an image of environmental inexorability that neutralizes the threat of any ultimate environmental destruction. Ann Putnam argues in Memory, Grief, and the Terrain of Desire that Green Hills of Africa is divided against itself so that actions that honor and respect the natural world compete with actions that would destroy it (99). I would suggest, though,

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200 that to whatever degree Green Hills of Africa is divided, it is also in complete control of its own dividedness. It understands the paradoxical environmental ethics that it practices, and it manages the palpable absurdity of its tacit but nonetheless constant claim (which runs entirely counter to everything he writes about Africa) that there will always be another [virgin] country where a man could live and hunt if he had time to live and hunt (282). Hemingway recognizes the scope and scale of twentieth century environmental loss as well as any author in the first half of the twentieth century, yet wherever he could name the situation that he finds before him and create a new relationship between American letters and environmental ethics, he chooses another course. In his formal enclosure and linguistic continuance of environmental openness in In Our Time and in his strategic turn toward the Gulf Stream in Green Hills of Africa, he maintains the ahistorical, illimitable, and indestructible simulacrum of timeless nature that comes to him from Emerson. It was Emerson, after all, and the critical tradition that brought him into the twentieth century as the preeminent American philosopher of nature, who gave American Literature in the middle of the nineteenth century the enduring vision of abstract nature that it would use to look away from environmental crisis until the late twentieth century when literary traditions began to matter less, when literature itself became problematic, and when a new public sense of environmental crisis finally allowed the natural world to once again become a legitimate issue within the literary sphere. Notes 1 Susan F. Beegel discusses Hemingways spiritual and scientific engagements with nature in Hemingway as a Naturalist. Her essay traces Hemingways upbringing in Oak Hall, Illinois and all of the figuresincluding his mother and father, Roosevelt,

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201 Burroughs, Agassiz, Carl Akeley, and Jack Londonwho influenced his environmental thinking. Beegel finds Hemingway a remarkable naturalist and praises his particularly keen powers of scientific observation. Although my interpretation of Hemingways contributions to American Literatures vision of the natural world is decidedly more negative than Beegels, her work on the origins of his environmental commitments is invaluable. Terry Tempest Williams quotes this passage from Kazin in her keynote address to the Seventh International Hemingway Conference and thoroughly agrees with his assessment of Hemingways aptitude as a naturalist. And although they do not state it as plainly, all of the eighteen essays that are included with Williamss keynote address in Robert E. Flemings Hemingway and the Natural World take Hemingways exceptionality as a nature writer more or less for granted. 2 For the sake of clarity, I believe it is worth mentioning at the outset that In Our Time is a collection of loosely related short stories with a particularly complex history. The text as we have it today is composed of two narrative strandsone that features relatively conventional short stories, many featuring Nick Adams, and another composed of chapters (titled with roman numerals, printed with italicized text, and never longer than a single page) that critics often describe as interchapters or vignettes (the name that I will give them in this essay) that critics have described as a collection of short stories, a short story cycle, a fragmentary novel, and even a cubist anatomy (Brogan 31). The publication history of the book is nearly as complex as its form. In Our Time appeared in essentially final form in 1925and this is the year that is generally recognized as its proper date of publicationbut it underwent several significant changes between 1923 and 1955. In Our Time, in its enduring 1925 guise, is composed of conventional short stories that are separated by even shorter stories that critics usually describe as interchapters or sketches or vignettes (the term I will use throughout this essay). These vignettes, which in the 1925 version are labeled as Chapters and are usually numbered with roman numerals (there are two notable exceptions that I will discuss in a moment). It is with the vignettes, though, that the historical complexities come into play. Little Review published the first of the vignettes in 1923 and they were all published together in Paris by Three Mountain Press in 1924 as in our time, with the title lacking any capitalization in the mode of e. e. cummings. For the 1925 version published by Boni and Liveright, Hemingway simply added fourteen short stories to the Three Mountain Press version, which gave the new book the heft it needed to even have a chance at success on the conventional U. S. book market. Boni and Liveright only printed 1,100 copies of In Our Time in 1925 and made severe editorial decisions that rankled Hemingway (they made him excise what was going to be the books opening story, Up in Michigan and forced him to make major changes to another of the books stories, Mr. and Mrs. Elliot) (Reynolds, Hemingway: The 1930s 42, Reynolds A Brief Biography 28). Because of this, and at the urging of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Hemingway switched to Scribners, who reissued In Our Time in 1930. This 1930 edition opens with an Introduction by the Author that would be renamed On the Quai at Smyrna in The Fifth Column and the First Forty-Nine Stories, which Scribners released in 1938 (Reynolds, Ernest Hemingways In Our Time 49). In Our Time would not be printed

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202 as a stand-alone book with On the Quai at Smyrna as its first story until 1955, when Scribners again reissued the book. For another account of the history of In Our Time outside of the three Reynolds texts that I have mentioned, see Peter A. Smiths Hemingways On the Quai at Smyrna and the Universe of In Our Time. 3 Indian Camp plays a central role in the feminist backlash against Hemingway that Judith Fetterley initiated in The Resisting Reader. Fetterleys argument, staged in the context of A Farewell to Arms but essentially about Hemingways oeuvre in general, holds that if we weep at the end of A Farewell to Arms all our tears are ultimately for men, because in the world of A Farewell to Arms male life is what counts. And the message to women reading this classic love story . is clear and simple: the only good woman is a dead one, and even then there are questions (71). While A Farewell to Arms is the primary subject of the chapter she devotes to Hemingway, Fetterley opens her argument by claiming that Indian Camp, with its guilt for the attitudes men have toward women and guilt for the consequences to women of male sexuality, is a prototype for the later novel. Hemingway scholarship has struggled to find new directions since Fetterleys delivered what Mark Spilka calls her devastating and relentless critique (Repossessing 245), but this is largely because her work identified sexist and masochistic elements in Hemingways writings that had always been there, that everyone had always known to be there, and that therefore no oneespecially those who wanted to resist Fetterleys readingcould defend in good faith. Her brief treatment of Indian Camp is a case in point. In her summary of the storys action, Fetterley writes that a little boy watches his father perform a contemptuous and grotesque Caesarean section on an Indian woman (46). Contemptuous and grotesque? Yes, Fetterleys language is strong here as it is elsewhere in her larger argument, but it does capture exactly what happens in the story, which is surely part of the reason that her work has been difficult to move beyond. Since the early 1980s, critics have simply ignored the problems that Fetterly identifies in Hemingways work; rejected the guilt that Hemingway lovers feel in the face of her critique and alternately decided to read Hemingway with guilt (Spilka 236); recapitulated Fetterleys critique; and, in rare instances that have produced some of the best Hemingway scholarship of the past thirty years, redeemed Hemingway through the same feminist mode of critique that Fetterley deployed in the first place. For arguments that represent the more or less overt ways that critics have struggled against Fetterleys reading, see Robert Scholess Textual Power: Literary Theory and the Teaching of English, which, published just five years after The Resisting Reader, operates as if Fetterleys critique had never been uttered, and Frederick Buschs Reading Hemingway Without Guilt, which simply suggests that lovers of Hemingway ignore the problems identified by Fetterley. For an example of how critics have simply maintained the terms of Fetterleys argument alive, see Robert Scholes and Nancy Comleys Hemingways Genders: Rereading the Hemingway Text, and for arguments that have work to redeem Hemingway from a feminist perspective, see Rose Marie Burwells Hemingway: The Postwar Years and the Posthumous Novels, Margaret D. Bauers Forget the Legend and Read the Work: Teaching Two Stories by Ernest Hemingway, Robert Spilkas Repossessing Papa: A Narcissistic Meditation for

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203 Literary Throwbacks, and Joyce Wexlers E. R. A. for Hemingway: A Feminist Defense of A Farewell to Arms. 4 As one might suspect, particularly from a book written as this one is (in a form either replicating or mimicking letters exchanged between two people, one of whom we may reasonably presume to be Derrida), Derrida formulates his notions of the envoi and the post over the course of The Post Card, and I believe that the type of reduction of his argument that I have offered here is infinitely more palatable in the scope of my larger argument than would be a more involved and specific discussion of Derridas text. For the purpose of my argument here, I feel that it is enough to know that Derridas theorization of envoi and post entirely shifts the metaphor of knowledge from library or static archive to the Great Telematic Network, the worldwide connection in which knowledge continually circulates in the form of envois that may be intercepted or misread at various posts, or stops in the circuit (Derrida 27). 5 Since its initial publication, critics have recognized Green Hills of Africa as a self-indulgent book in which Hemingway allows his masculinist posturing to run amuck, along with his disdain for his politically engaged critics like Granville Hicks and Malcolm Cowley. For a discussion of the battle with his critics that Hemingway carries out in Green Hills, see Robert W. Trogdons Forms of Combat: Hemingway, The Critics, and Green Hills of Africa.

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205 Beegel, Susan F., Susan Shillinglaw, and Wesley N. Tiffney, Jr., eds. Steinbeck and the Environment: Interdisciplinary Approaches. Tuscaloosa: U of Alabama P, 1997. Belknap, Jeremy. The History of New Hampshire. 3 vols. (1784, 1791, 1792) Boston: Bradford and Read, 1813. Benjamin, Walter. The Origin of German Tragic Drama. 1963. Trans. John Osborne. New York: Verso, 1998. Berkson, Dorothy. Born and Bred in Different Nations: Margaret Fuller and Ralph Waldo Emerson. Patrons and Protges: Gender, Friendship, and Writing in Nineteenth Century America. Ed. Shirley Marchalonis. New Brunswick: Rutgers UP, 1988. 3 Bloom, Harold. Mr. America. New York Review of Books. 31.18 (1984). Online edition. 4 numbered sections. . Accessed 2 March 2005. Rpt. as Emerson: Power at the Crossing. Poetics of Influence. Ed. John Hollander. New Haven: Charles Schwab, 1988. 309. Rpt as Emerson: Power at the Crossing in Buell. Ralph Waldo Emerson 148158. Also rpt as Introduction in Ralph Waldo Emerson. Ed. Harold Bloom. Modern Critical Views. New York: Chelsea House, 1985. . Ralph Waldo Emerson. Ed. Harold Bloom. Modern Critical Views. New York: Chelsea House, 1985. Bodry-Sanders, Penelope. Carl Akeley: Africas Collector, Africas Savior. New York: Paragon, 1991. Bohlke, Brent, ed. Willa Cather in Person: Interviews, Speeches, and Letters. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P, 1986. Borst, Raymond R. Henry David Thoreau: A Reference Guide, 1835. Boston: Hall, 1987. Botkin, Daniel. The Depth of Walden Pond: Thoreau as a Guide to Solving Twenty-First Century Environmental Problems. The Concord Saunterer 9 (2001) 5. . No Mans Garden: Thoreau and a New Vision for Civilization and Nature. Washington: Island, 2000. Botting, Fred. Making Monstrous: Frankenstein, Criticism, Theory. New York: St. Martin's, 1991. Boyd, Valerie. Wrapped in Rainbows: The Life of Zora Neale Hurston. New York: Scribner, 2003.

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206 Brogan, Jacqueline Vaught. Hemingways In Our Time: A Cubist Anatomy. The Hemingway Review 17.2 (1998) 31. Brooks, Van Wyck. Americas Coming-of-Age. 1915. New York: Huebsch, 1924. . Three Essays on America. New York: Dutton, 1934. . The Flowering of New England: 1815. 1936. Rev. Ed. New York: World Publishing, 1946. , and Otto L. Bettman. Our Literary Heritage: A Pictorial History of the Writer in America. New York: Dutton, 1956. Brown, Lee Rust. The Emerson Museum: Practical Romanticism and the Pursuit of the Whole. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1997. Buell, Lawrence. The Environmental Imagination: Thoreau, Nature Writing, and the Formation of American Culture. Cambridge: Harvard Belknap, 1995. . Introduction. Selected Poems. By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. New York: Penguin, 1988. Buell, Lawrence. Faulkner and the Claims of the Natural World. Kartiganer and Abadie 1. . New England Literary Culture: From Revolution Through Renaissance. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1986. , ed. Ralph Waldo Emerson: A Collection of Critical Essays. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice, 1993. Burwell, Rose Marie. Hemingway: The Postwar Years and the Posthumous Novels. New York: Cambridge UP, 1996. Busch, Frederick. Reading Hemingway Without Guilt. New York Times Book Review 12 January 1992: 1, 17. Cafaro, Philip. Thoreaus Virtue Ethics in Walden. The Concord Saunterer 8 (2000) 23. . Thoreaus Environmental Ethics in Walden The Concord Saunterer 10 (2002) 17 63. Calhoun, Charles C. Longfellow: A Reconsidered Life. Boston: Beacon, 2004.

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207 . The Multicultural Longfellow. Chronicle of Higher Education. 5/21/04. 50.37 pB10 2p. Carby, Hazel V. The Politics of Fiction, Anthropology, and the Folk. Their Eyes Were Watching God: A Casebook. Ed. Cheryl Wall. New York: Oxford UP, 2000 Carlin, Deborah. Cather, Canon, and the Politics of Reading. Amherst: U of Massachusetts P, 1992. Cather, Willa. Cathers 1933 Radio Speech. The Willa Cather Archive. Multimedia. Audio. . 26 Sept. 2005. . My ntonia. 1918. New York: Penguin, 1994. . O Pioneers!.1913. New York: Bantam, 1989. . Escapism. 1936. Willa Cather: Stories, Poems, and Other Writings. New York: Library of America, 1992. 968. . The Novel Demeuble. Willa Cather: Stories, Poems, and Other Writings. New York: Library of America, 1992. 1938. 834. . Willa Cather Talks of Work. 1913. The Kingdom of Art: Willa Cathers First Principles and Critical Statements, 1893. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P, 1966. Cayton, Mary Kupiec. The Making of an American Prophet: Emerson, His Audiences, and the Rise of the Culture Industry in Nineteenth-Century America. American Historical Review 92 (1987) 598. Rpt in Buell, Ralph Waldo Emerson 77100. Chai, Leon. The Romantic Foundations of the American Renaissance. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1987. Charvat, William. The Profession of Authorship in America: 1800, The Papers of William Charvat. Ed. Matthew J. Brucolli. Columbus: Ohio State UP, 1968. Chase, Richard. The American Novel and Its Tradition. 1957. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1987. Cheyfitz, Eric. A Common Emerson: Ralph Waldo Emerson in an Ethnohistorical Context. Ninteenth-Century Prose 31.1/2 (2003) 250. . The Poetics of Imperialism: Translation and Colonization from The Tempest to Tarzan. 1991. Expanded ed. Philadelphia: U of Pennsylvania P, 1997. Clark, H. H. Emerson and Science. Philological Quarterly 10 (1931) 225.

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208 Cohen, Jeffrey Jerome, ed. Monster Theory: Reading Culture. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1996. Colburn, David R. Rosewood and America in the Early Twentieth Century. The Florida Historical Quarterly 76.2 (1997)175. Cooper, James Fenimore. The Letters and Journals of James Fenimore Cooper. (6 vols.). Ed. James Franklin Beard. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1960. . The Deerslayer. 1841. Albany: SUNY P, 1985. . The Last of the Mohicans. 1826. New York: Signet, 1980. . The Pathfinder: Or The Inland Sea. 1840. New York: Penguin, 1989. . The Pioneers, Or the Sources of the Susquehanna; A Descriptive Tale. 1823. Albany: SUNY P, 1980. . The Prairie. 1827. New York: Penguin, 1987. Cooper, William. A Guide in the Wilderness: Or the History of the First Settlements in The Western Counties of New York with Useful Instructions to Future Settlers. 1810. Freeport, NY: Books for Libraries, 1970. Crews, Frederick. Whose American Renaissance? New York Review of Books 35.16 (1988). Cronau, Rudolf. A Continent Despoiled. McClures Magazine (1893) Apr 1909 32.6 639. Cronon, William. Changes in the Land: Indians, Colonists, and the Ecology of New England. 1983. New York: Hill and Wang, Farrar, 2003. Dallal, Jenine Abboushi. American Imperialism UnManifest: Emersons Inquest and Cultural Regeneration. American Literature 73.1 (2001) 47. Dant, Elizabeth A. Composing the World: Emerson and the Cabinet of Natural History. Nineteenth-Century Literature 44 (1989) 18. Davis, Jack. Conservation is Now a Dead Word: Marjory Stoneman Douglas and the Transformation of American Environmentalism. Environmental History 8, no. 1 (2003): 53. Davis, Jack E. Whitewash in Florida: The Lynching of Jesse James Payne and Its Aftermath. The Florida Historical Quarterly 68.3 (1990) 277.

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209 De Certeau, Michel. The Practice of Everyday Life. Trans. Steven Rendall. Berkeley: U of California P, 1988. Decker, Jeffrey Louis. Disassembling the Machine in the Garden, Antihumanism and the Critique of American-Studies. New Literary History. 23.2 (1992): 281. Deleuze, Gilles and Flix Guattari. Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Trans. Robert Hurley, Mark Seem, and Helen R. Lane. Minneapolis: U of Minneapolis P, 2003. . A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Shizophrenia. Trans. Brian Massumi. Minneapolis: U of Minneapolis P, 2003. DeMott, Robert J. Steinbecks Reading: A Catalogue of Books Owned and Borrowed. New York: Garland, 1984. Derrida, Jacques. The Post Card: From Socrates to Freud and Beyond. Trans. Alan Bass. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1987. Dixon, Melvin. Ride Out the Wilderness: Geography and Identity in Afro-American Literature. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1987. Douglas, Ann. The Feminization of American Culture. New York: Knopf, 1977. Downs, M. Catherine. Becoming Modern: Willa Cathers Journalism. Selinsgrove: Susquehanna UP, 1999. Dray, Philip. At the Hands of Persons Unknown: The Lynching of Black America. New York: Random, 2002. Du Bois, W. E. B. The Souls of Black Folk. 1903. New York: Norton, 1990. Dwight, Timothy. Travels in New England and New York. 4 Vols. 1821. Cambridge: Belknap, Harvard, 1969. Emerson, Ralph Waldo. Nature. Essays, Second Series in Essays: First and Second Series. Ed. Joel Porte. New York: Vintage, Library of America, 1990. . Nature. The Collected Works of Ralph Waldo Emerson. Vol 1: Nature, Addresses, and Lectures. Ed. Robert Spiller, Alfred Ferguson, et al. Cambridge: Belknap, Harvard UP, 1971. 7. Evans, Constantine. Fenimore Coopers Libel Suits. Syracuse University Library Associates Courier 27.2 (1992) 47. Rpt online at the James Fenimore Cooper Society Website.
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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Lloyd Elliot Willis, originally from Morehead City, North Carolina, earned his Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington in 2001, his Master of Arts in English from the University of Florida in 2003, and his Doctor of Philosophy in English from the University of Florida in 2006. 225


Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UFE0013720/00001

Material Information

Title: Looking away : the evasive environmental politics of American literature, 1823-1966
Physical Description: Mixed Material
Language: English
Creator: Willis, Lloyd Elliott ( Dissertant )
Smith, Stephanie ( Thesis advisor )
Publisher: University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 2006
Copyright Date: 2006

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords: Dissertations, Academic -- English -- UF
Genre: non-fiction   ( marcgt )
bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )

Notes

Abstract: Looking Away: The Evasive Environmental Politics of American Literature combines the history of American environmentalism and the institutional history of American literature studies with theories of periodicity and spatiality to argue that American literature has always been invested in the condition of the North American environment. This environment has been, indeed, a site of political struggle in American letters since the mid-nineteenth century, and I show how the American critical tradition has worked to erase American literature’s environmental anxieties since the early twentieth century. Looking Away investigates the environmental commitments of James Fenimore Cooper, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow; the roles that critics from Margaret Fuller to Van Wyck Brooks, F. O. Matthiessen, and Leslie Fiedler have played in the creation of an environmentally disengaged body of American literature; and the ways that early-twentieth-century authors like Willa Cather, Zora Neale Hurston, and Ernest Hemingway brought the natural world into the new century as a serious site of literary and critical conflict. Chapter 1 argues that Cooper’s Leatherstocking Series, which expresses radical doubt about the permanence and illimitability of North American “nature,” marks a significant break from the environmental rhetoric of the colonial and early republican periods. Chapter 2 argues that Cooper’s environmental anxieties were eclipsed by the abstract and imperialist vision of nature that Ralph Waldo Emerson defines in Nature, and Chapter 3 explains that Henry Wadsworth Longfellow promoted an environmentally determinist vision of American literature that could have produced a much different relationship between the nation’s nature and its literature than the one that in fact developed along more Emersonian lines. Chapter 4 argues that the environmentalist sympathies of both Willa Cather and John Steinbeck were held in check by literary and cultural resistances to any type of environmentalist radicalism. Chapter 5 presents Hurston as an author who steps outside of both cultural and literary expectations by theorizing Florida as a vibrant and organic space ideally suited for African American life, and Chapter 6 presents Hemingway as the author who takes U. S. literature’s paradoxical relationship with nature to more absurd lengths than any other.
General Note: Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Florida, 2006.
General Note: Includes bibliographical references (leaves 204-224).
General Note: Vita.

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Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
System ID: UFE0013720:00001

Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UFE0013720/00001

Material Information

Title: Looking away : the evasive environmental politics of American literature, 1823-1966
Physical Description: Mixed Material
Language: English
Creator: Willis, Lloyd Elliott ( Dissertant )
Smith, Stephanie ( Thesis advisor )
Publisher: University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 2006
Copyright Date: 2006

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords: Dissertations, Academic -- English -- UF
Genre: non-fiction   ( marcgt )
bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )

Notes

Abstract: Looking Away: The Evasive Environmental Politics of American Literature combines the history of American environmentalism and the institutional history of American literature studies with theories of periodicity and spatiality to argue that American literature has always been invested in the condition of the North American environment. This environment has been, indeed, a site of political struggle in American letters since the mid-nineteenth century, and I show how the American critical tradition has worked to erase American literature’s environmental anxieties since the early twentieth century. Looking Away investigates the environmental commitments of James Fenimore Cooper, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow; the roles that critics from Margaret Fuller to Van Wyck Brooks, F. O. Matthiessen, and Leslie Fiedler have played in the creation of an environmentally disengaged body of American literature; and the ways that early-twentieth-century authors like Willa Cather, Zora Neale Hurston, and Ernest Hemingway brought the natural world into the new century as a serious site of literary and critical conflict. Chapter 1 argues that Cooper’s Leatherstocking Series, which expresses radical doubt about the permanence and illimitability of North American “nature,” marks a significant break from the environmental rhetoric of the colonial and early republican periods. Chapter 2 argues that Cooper’s environmental anxieties were eclipsed by the abstract and imperialist vision of nature that Ralph Waldo Emerson defines in Nature, and Chapter 3 explains that Henry Wadsworth Longfellow promoted an environmentally determinist vision of American literature that could have produced a much different relationship between the nation’s nature and its literature than the one that in fact developed along more Emersonian lines. Chapter 4 argues that the environmentalist sympathies of both Willa Cather and John Steinbeck were held in check by literary and cultural resistances to any type of environmentalist radicalism. Chapter 5 presents Hurston as an author who steps outside of both cultural and literary expectations by theorizing Florida as a vibrant and organic space ideally suited for African American life, and Chapter 6 presents Hemingway as the author who takes U. S. literature’s paradoxical relationship with nature to more absurd lengths than any other.
General Note: Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Florida, 2006.
General Note: Includes bibliographical references (leaves 204-224).
General Note: Vita.

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LOOKING AWAY: THE EVASIVE ENVIRONMENTAL POLITICS
OF AMERICAN LITERATURE, 1823-1966













By

LLOYD ELLIOTT WILLIS


A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY

UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA


2006


































Copyright 2006

by

Lloyd Elliott Willis

































To Windy and Hailey















ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

I wish to thank my committee members for everything they have contributed to this

project. I am deeply indebted to Jack Davis and Phil Wegner for changing the ways I

think about literature, critical theory, and politics. Sid Dobrin has been a constant source

of reassurance and guidance throughout this project and my entire graduate career, and

Stephanie Smith, who has been a constant and patient source of support and

encouragement, has been just what I believe every dissertation director should be.

I also wish to thank my parents, my siblings, and my whole family for supporting

my academic work and enduring-with incredible understanding-the separation it has

entailed. Most of all, I am indebted to Windy for taking every step of this journey with

me, and to Hailey for making the year I spent writing Looking Away better than anything

I could ever imagine.
















TABLE OF CONTENTS

A CK N OW LED GEM EN TS ..........................................................................iv

ABSTRAC T ................................... ............ .......... .......... vii

CHAPTER
1 THE ENVIRONMENTAL UNCONSCIOUS
OF AMERICANIST CRITICISM FROM HENRY NASH SMITH
TO LA W REN CE BU ELL ......................... ......... ......... ...................

From Revisionist History to Ecocritical Recidivism............................4
Unearthing the Evasive Politics of American Literature.....................
N otes ............. ............... ........... ...... ... .................... 14

2 JAMES FENIMORE COOPER, AMERICAN CANON
FORMATION, AND THE ERASURE OF
ENVIRONM ENTAL ANXIETY ........................ ........ .....................16

Removing Cooper from History ...... .... ............ .... ....... ............17
R ehistoricizing C ooper .................................................. .... ............... 22
N otes ............. ... ..... ..................... ........ ... .. ........ 41

3 THE INSTITUTION OF EMERSONIAN
ENVIRONMENTAL IMPERIALISM.................................46

Emerson, Gender, and Nature's Gender..............................................48
The Nature of Emerson's Imperialism ................. .........................52
The Consequences and Endurance of Emersonian Nature...................58
Thoreau and the Continuation of Emerson's Abstract
Spatial Im perialism ........................................ .............. .. ....................64
N otes .................................... ............................... ........71

4 HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW, UNITED STATES
NATIONAL LITERATURE, AND THE AMERICAN
CANON'S ERASURE OF MATERIAL NATURE ............................78

Longfellow's Literary Manifestoes .................... .................79
Longfellow and the Nineteenth Century American
Literature D ebates................... ................................ .. ............. 82
Longfellow's Un-Emersonian Nature.................. .................................88









The Nation's Shifting Sense of Nature and Longfellow's Hedge
against the Future.................... .......... .... ... .................. ........... ..... 91
Erasing Longfellow and Naturalizing American Literary
Personality in the Early Twentieth Century................ ... .................94
N otes ............................................................... .. ... ..... 105

5 WILL FATHER AND JOHN STEINBECK,
ENVIRONMENTAL SCHIZOPHRENIA AND
M ON STR OU S ECOLO G Y ............................................... ................111

The Progressive Conservation Movement, The Hetch Hetchy
Debate, and Cather in New York City................................................112
Environmental Desire and Environmental Schizophrenia......................115
Cather's Canonically Modulated Environmental Schizophrenia ...........119
Steinbeck, Ecology, and American Culture...................... .................129
Steinbeck and M onstrosity ........................................ ............... 133
Steinbeck's M onstrous Ecology ......................................... .......... 136
N otes ............................................................... .. ... ........ 146

6 RECLAIMING BLACKSPACE: ZORA NEALE HURSTON,
THE POWER OF HARLEM, AND THE PROMISE
O F F L O R ID A ....... .. .. .... .. .......... .............. .............. ..15 1

Hurston, H arlem and Pow er ...................................... ............... 153
Creating a Floridian Blackspace..................................... ...............160
N otes ............. .... ......................................... .. ..... 183

7 THERE WILL ALWAYS BE A "LAST GOOD COUNTRY,"
OR ERNEST HEMINGWAY AND AMERICAN LITERATURE'S
LEGACY OF ENVIRONMENTAL DISENGAGEMENT ................... 188

The Circular Trajectory of Environmental Openness in In Our Time .... 190
Bad Faith in Green H ills of Africa......................................................... 195
N otes ................... ......... ...... ......................... .................... 2 0 0

LIST OF REFERENCES ................................ ............................. 204

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ........................................ ...... ............... 225















Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy

LOOKING AWAY: THE EVASIVE ENVIRONMENTAL POLITICS
OF AMERICAN LITERATURE, 1823-1966

By

Lloyd Elliott Willis

August 2006

Chair: Stephanie Smith
Major Department: Department of English

Looking Away: The Evasive Environmental Politics ofAmerican Literature

combines the history of American environmentalism and the institutional history of

American literature studies with theories of periodicity and spatiality to argue that

American literature has always been invested in the condition of the North American

environment. This environment has been, indeed, a site of political struggle in American

letters since the mid-nineteenth century, and I show how the American critical tradition

has worked to erase American literature's environmental anxieties since the early

twentieth century. Looking Away investigates the environmental commitments of James

Fenimore Cooper, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow; the roles

that critics from Margaret Fuller to Van Wyck Brooks, F. O. Matthiessen, and Leslie

Fiedler have played in the creation of an environmentally disengaged body of American

literature; and the ways that early-twentieth-century authors like Willa Cather, Zora









Neale Hurston, and Ernest Hemingway brought the natural world into the new century as

a serious site of literary and critical conflict.

Chapter 1 argues that Cooper's Leatherstocking Series, which expresses radical

doubt about the permanence and illimitability of North American "nature," marks a

significant break from the environmental rhetoric of the colonial and early republican

periods. Chapter 2 argues that Cooper's environmental anxieties were eclipsed by the

abstract and imperialist vision of nature that Ralph Waldo Emerson defines in Nature,

and Chapter 3 explains that Henry Wadsworth Longfellow promoted an environmentally

determinist vision of American literature that could have produced a much different

relationship between the nation's nature and its literature than the one that in fact

developed along more Emersonian lines. Chapter 4 argues that the environmentalist

sympathies of both Willa Cather and John Steinbeck were held in check by literary and

cultural resistances to any type of environmentalist radicalism. Chapter 5 presents

Hurston as an author who steps outside of both cultural and literary expectations by

theorizing Florida as a vibrant and organic space ideally suited for African American life,

and Chapter 6 presents Hemingway as the author who takes U. S. literature's paradoxical

relationship with nature to more absurd lengths than any other.















CHAPTER 1
THE ENVIRONMENTAL UNCONSCIOUS OF AMERICANIST CRITICISM FROM
HENRY NASH SMITH TO LAWRENCE BUELL

In "National Identities, Postmodern Artifacts, and Postnational Narratives,"

Donald Pease offers a compelling description of the mainstream American culture and

the critical tradition that he and other "New Americanists" had already been working to

subvert for nearly a decade by the time he included the essay in National Identities and

Post-Americanist Narratives (1994).1 Deliberately describing the "national narrative" of

the United States in the terms of R. W. B. Lewis, Henry Nash Smith, and Perry Miller, he

writes that the nation's unconscious sense of itself combines "an exceptional national

subject (American Adam) with a representative national scene (Virgin Land) and an

exemplary national motive (errand into the wilderness)" (3). Together, Pease writes, this

triangulation of the national subject, scene, and motive produces a "mythological entity-

Nature's Nation-" that believes itself to be governed by "natural law" and a set of ruling

principles "(Liberty Equality, Social Justice) [that] could be understood as

indistinguishable from the sovereign power creative of nature" (3-4).

The brilliance of this passage lies in the way it simultaneously describes

"American culture," defines the foundational texts and concerns of American Studies,

and asserts (by remaining always in the present tense) that both the cultural and critical

situations that he describes are and ongoing. When "National Identities, Postmodern

Artifacts, and Postnational Narratives" was first published in boundary 2 in 1993, Pease

felt that the narratives of exceptional Americans, virgin land, and ordained voyages into






2


wilderness had not been entirely displaced from either the nation's sense of itself or the

critical institution's operating assumptions despite the fact that significant revisionist

work had already been done. He was writing, after all, in response to Frederick Crews's

famous 1988 "Whose American Renaissance?" which granted the "New Americanists"

their name and condemned their work while defending the claims of the old guard.

Today, 17 years since it was published and 15 years since Pease first rebuked it in

"New Americanists: Revisionist Interventions into the Canon," "Whose American

Renaissance?" still stands as the last major challenge to American Studies's

transformation into the historically (rather than mythically) oriented, politically engaged,

and "postnational" field that it is today. Even as Pease was responding to Crews-and

embracing the "New Americanist" label that Crews had used pejoratively-the field was

changing quickly and the old critical narratives, which Pease in "National Identities"

believed to still retain some currency, were rapidly losing whatever capital they still had

within the culture of Americanist criticism.

Despite the drastic changes in Americanist criticism over the past decade and a

half, however, and despite the fact that the old national narratives have been largely

dismissed, at least one significant portion of Pease's broad "disciplinary unconscious"

remains largely unchallenged. The American critical institution has generally failed to

explore the environmental politics that it has practiced along with the American authors it

has canonized since the mid-nineteenth century. Even despite the revisionist work of

those like Annette Kolodny and Richard Slotkin, the critical community still, largely

unconsciously, draws a false boundary between environmental politics, literary

production, and critical practices. To put it a bit differently, the critical community has









still not recognized that the formation of an American canon entailed an unconscious

(and evasive) environmental politics; it has not recognized that the apolitical, ahistorical,

and monolithic "Nature" that operates in the narratives of Smith and Marx is an extension

of this canonically endorsed politics of environmental evasion; and it has not recognized

that ongoing debates about American culture's relationship with nature-most frequently

carried out under the banner of ecocriticism-continue to misread environmental politics

as a contemporary development that can therefore have no bearing upon the history of

American literature and criticism.

It is the purpose of Looking Away to suggest that the particular vision of nature

that lies within American literature's "field-imaginary" is the product of a long tradition

of evasive environmental politics that involves authors ranging from James Fenimore

Cooper, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and Ralph Waldo Emerson to Willa Cather and

John Steinbeck, and critics from Cornelius Mathews, Margaret Fuller and Mark Twain to

George Santayana, Van Wyck Brooks, and Leslie Fiedler. In this archaeology of

"American Literature's" evasive environmental politics, I will argue that James Fenimore

Cooper resisted federalist narratives of illimitable virgin land and that Henry Wadsworth

Longfellow envisioned a U. S. national literature that was invested in the condition of the

North American environment. I will argue that Emerson, who has been canonized as the

American nature philosopher of the nineteenth century, replaced the environmental

visions of Cooper and Longfellow with an abstract vision of "Nature" that would serve as

the field's standard idea of nature well into the twentieth century. Finally, I will explain

how Willa Cather, John Steinbeck, and Zora Neale Hurston resisted the Emersonian idea









of nature throughout the early twentieth century and how Ernest Hemingway granted it

its fullest expression.

From Revisionist History to Ecocritical Recidivism

Annette Kolodny's 1975 The Lay of the Land opens with this description of the

book's central motive: "The original impetus for the following investigation was my

growing distress at what we have done to our continent" (ix). Ten years later, Richard

Slotkin's The Fatal Environment, which makes no specific claims about an

environmentalist motivation, still advanced a portion of Kolodny's project by insisting on

a more historically and politically engaged vision of American history than is offered in

Virgin Land and Machine in the Garden. After the passage of yet another decade and

after the narratives of Smith, Marx, and the other "Old Americanists" had been

effectively displaced, scholars like Lawrence Buell and Cheryl Glotfelty, operating under

the newly organized aegis of "ecocriticism" would restate Kolodny's original

environmentalist motivations but, unwittingly perhaps, promote an ecological aesthetic

and a critical mission that would once again remove the question of nature-within the

critical field-from the realms of history and politics.

For Pease in "New Americanists," The Lay of the Land and The Fatal

Environment effectively subvert the Virgin Land narrative. Kolodny, of course, argues

that North American environmental destruction is the unfortunate result of the way that

nature has been gendered since the beginning of European colonization, that by turning

the "new" land into a female virgin land Europeans placed North American nature into

the category of the exploited and exploitable. To this, Slotkin adds that the vision of the

frontier that operates in the work of both Frederick Jackson Turner and Henry Nash

Smith (Smith, for his part, was trying to correct Turner by arguing that the myth, or









public perception, of the frontier was just as important to American culture as the actual

frontier itself) absolutely neglects the history of bloody conflict-even genocide-,

which is the true history of the westward expansion of the United States.

Kolodny and Slotkin did effectively shift the disciplinary unconscious of

Americanist criticism-it is now impossible to think of virgin land or of a triumphant

westward march of American civilization-but, as if they exhausted a whole line of

inquiry as they subverted the Smith-Marx paradigm, their work has not been significantly

advanced by subsequent critics. They demonstrate how the mainstream (white, male)

culture of (primarily) the United States extended patterns of gendered violence on a

female nature and replace optimistic if wrongheaded narratives of American expansion

with a new but still mythical and archetypal narrative of violent imperialism, but they say

very little or nothing about the roles that literature and canon formation played in the

creation of these national myths.

With the problem of revising national narratives effectively solved, Americanists

of any stripe (New, Old, etc.) spent very little time considering any issue relating to

nature until it became the special subject of"ecocriticism" in the mid-1990s. Just like

Kolodny's The Lay of the Land, this ecologically oriented mode of criticism developed,

as Cheryl Glotfelty states the case in her introduction to The Ecocriticism Reader, in

response to "the most pressing contemporary issue of all, namely, the global

environmental crisis" (xv). Despite the fact that "most ecocritical work shares a common

[environmentalist] motivation," however, as a body it neglects the types of political and

historical critique that Kolodny and Slotkin had used so effectively. In some cases

ecocriticism reinstitutes the focus on pastoralism and the nature/culture or









nature/technology binaries that Kolodny and Slotkin had resisted in Smith and Marx; it

often acts as if environmentalism itself is an illegitimate critical concern that lacks a

substantive history; and in the place of the environmentalist concerns that it seems so

invested in, ecocriticism tends to turn ecology and its philosophical implications (holistic

worldviews, metaphors of connectivity) into a new interpretive matrix that its critics can

then deploy in what is essentially a retooled New Critical method that dives beneath the

surface of texts in search of ecological truths. In fact, Glotfelty captures the degree to

which ecocriticism neglects environmental politics and limits environmentalism to the

contemporary moment when she offers this summation of what ecocritics "do":

Ecocritics and theorists ask questions like the following: How is nature
represented in this sonnet? What role does the physical setting play in the plot of
this novel? Are the values expressed in this play c ,uiveut iith ecological
wisdom? How do our metaphors of the land influence the way we treat it? How
can we characterize nature writing as a genre? In addition to race, class, and
gender, should place become a new critical category? Do men write about nature
differently than women do? In what ways has literacy itself affected humankind's
relationship to the natural world? How has the concept of wilderness changed
over time? In what ways and to what effect is the environmental crisis seeping
into contemporary literature and popular culture? What view of nature informs
U.S. Government reports, corporate advertising, and televised nature
documentaries, and to what rhetorical effect? What bearing might the science of
ecology have on literary studies? How is science itself open to literary analysis?
What cross-fertilization is possible between literary studies and environmental
discourse in related disciplines such as history, philosophy, psychology, art,
history, and ethics? (xix, emphasis added)

Ecocriticism as Glotfelty defines it here, then, identifies the "ecological wisdom"

that texts may contain, it strives to identify a relationship between ecology and literature,

it privileges a "concept of wilderness," and it thinks of "environmental crisis" as a

phenomenon that seeps only into "contemporary literature andpopular culture."

Lawrence Buell, the most prominent scholar of American literature to venture into

ecocriticism, shares the environmentalist motivations expressed by Kolodny and









Glotfelty, and his 1995 The Environmental Imagination performs precisely the type of

work that Glotfelty describes. Buell is clearly interested in what he describes as "the full-

fledged emergence of environmentalism as a topic of public concern in America" in the

"three decades have passed since the publication in 1962 of Rachel Carson's Silent

Spring,"-he even spends a paragraph in the second page of the book's introduction

meditating upon "Senator Albert Gore's pronouncement" that "'we must make the rescue

of the environment the central organizing principle for civilization'" (2). The quickening

environmental crisis of the late twentieth century, he explains, is what caused him to

rethink the environmental awareness of much earlier writers. As he puts it, "the more

environment looms as a self-evidently fundamental problem, the more problematic it

seems to minimize its importance for our precursors. If our present concern may tempt

us to overstate their concern, our past unconcern may have tempted us to ignore theirs"

(14).

Characteristically, however, and as the title of his book suggests, Buell moves

steadily away from environmental politics and into an explication of American

literature's "environmental imagination," an analysis of "literary ecocentrism," and a

celebration of Henry David Thoreau, whom Buell considers the greatest American nature

writer of the nineteenth century because he anticipates the ecocentric worldviews that

gained a degree of prominence (particularly through the work of "deep ecologists" like

Arne Naess, George Devall, Bill Sessions) through the last decades of the twentieth

century. Considered within the tradition of Americanist revisions of the virgin land myth

since the 1970s, the unconscious project of The Environmental Unconscious is to

construct a new and triumphant "primal scene" (to again turn to Pease's language) for









American literature that for the first time is entirely confined to the mind, contained

within the literary archive, and, by virtue of its immateriality, thoroughly protected from

another wave of revisionist critique that illuminates the disparity between a cultural

mythology and reality. Buell's "primal scene," after all, is neither the idea of virgin land

that fueled European and American expansionism nor the narrative of Virgin Land that

grounded American Studies for thirty years, but the "environmental imagination" of

American literature itself. And the "environmental imagination" of American literature,

Buell argues over the course of his critical narrative, is best embodied in the visionary

work of Thoreau, which is ecocentric enough to suggest that American literature and

culture, in its heart of hearts, has resisted an environmentally destructive "'self-indulgent

anthropocentrism'" since the mid-nineteenth century.

Buell arrives at his idea of an "environmental imagination" while attempting to

redirect the focus of "a metropolitan-based enterprise of academic criticism," which

"reads literature about nature for its structural or ideological properties," toward nature

writing's "experiential or referential aspects" (36). In abandoning such a "metropolitan"

criticism, though, Buell disclaims the subversive politics, the forceful and revisionist

historical focus, and the disciplinary self-reflexivity that had become fundamental to

American Studies when he migrated into ecocriticism (where he has largely remained

since the mid-1990s).2 In accordance with these critical decisions, The Environmental

Imagination pursues its exploration of literary ecocentrism while admitting but not

engaging the long history of environmental politics or the relationship between it and the

U. S. literary-critical tradition. For Buell, the "American natural environment ... during

the last five centuries has been constructed thrice over in a tangled ideological









palimpsest. ... it was constructed in the image of old world desire, then reconstructed in

the image of American cultural nationalism, then reconstructed again in a latter-day

scholarly discourse of American exceptionalism," but real environmental politics always

and only takes place, as I have already mentioned, after "the publication in 1962 of

Rachel Carson's Silent Spring and the passage [in 1970] of the Wilderness Act" (5-6,

10).

Unearthing the Evasive Politics of American Literature

The "ideological palimpsest" of nature that Buell identifies is undeniably the

product of a very real environmental politics that does indeed stretch back five centuries

to the beginning of European involvement in North America.3 My objective in Looking

Away is to describe the ways that authors and critics, particularly in the nineteenth and

twentieth centuries, have created and remained faithful to a vision (or palimpsest) of

nature that silences and forgets those who question the nation's faith in perpetual

environmental illimitability and virginity, critique the course of American empire, or

even imagine an American Literature that depends upon the continued existence of an

exceptional natural world. Because of its disciplinary politics and its reliance upon

revisionist histories that grant environmentalism a history beyond the late twentieth

century, this is a project that in many ways shares more with the early New Americanist

studies than more recent work in ecocriticism. It strives to recapture the vibrancy of the

New Americanist work of the 1980s and 1990s and it picks up the lines of self-reflexive

questioning about American literature's relationship to nature that have largely lain

dormant, despite the burgeoning of ecocriticism, since Kolodny and Slotkin initiated

them more than twenty years ago.









Now that the narratives like those of Virgin Land and The Machine in the Garden

have been thoroughly displaced, the question that drives me is how the myth of virgin

land still held cultural capital within American literature and criticism as late as the mid-

twentieth century. In the end, my answer to this question is that the American literary

institution maintained a vision of virgin land through centuries of evasive environmental

politics that it practiced with particular strength from the early republic throughout the

first half of the twentieth century.

My investigation of American literature's environmental politics begins with a re-

examination of James Fenimore Cooper's Leatherstocking Series. Despite the fact that

he has been devalued in a critical tradition that stretches from Mark Twain to Leslie

Fiedler, I argue that Cooper's novels constitute a significant intervention into American

culture's vision of the natural world by breaking from a federalist rhetoric of

environmental inexhaustibility that was pervasive in the early republic. Rather than

continuing a tradition of federalist optimism practiced by those like William Cooper (his

father), and Timothy Dwight, James Fenimore Cooper argues that the United States is

expanding into a limited environment, that the dominant capitalist culture of the United

States is environmentally ruinous and unsustainable, that the continent has always already

been a contested space rather than a virgin void, and that language and science are

transparent mechanisms of a Euro-American imperialism that was much more complex

than the squatters, squires, and outcasts that populate Cooper's romances.

As I argue in Chapter 2, however, Cooper's vision of the natural world is not the

one that critics like George Santayana and Van Wyck Brooks canonized in the early

twentieth century. For these critics, it was Ralph Waldo Emerson who offered American









literature's quintessential theory of nature, and the theory that they recognize in his work

replaces Cooper's emphasis on environmental scarcity and destructibility with an abstract

idea of nature that was complicit in American expansionism, imperialism, and

environmental destruction. In Nature, Emerson disposes of nature's physical, female,

and destructible qualities in a process of redefinition that imagines nature as an abstract

and masculine intellectual field that contains the female. In the end, Emerson's

abstraction of nature, which Thoreau carries forward in Walden and "Walking,"

constitutes a logic of imperial environmental domination that denies any sense of

environmental limitation or destructibility and evades the moral and representational

crises that attend the destruction of environments that would otherwise amount to virgins,

mothers, and/or virgin mothers.

In Chapter 3, I return to the question of what was lost in the process of

constructing a U. S. national literature around the figure of Ralph Waldo Emerson, this

time focusing on Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, the nineteenth century's most famous

American poet, and his involvement in an early nineteenth century debate about the

future of American literature. Longfellow's poetic project, as he defines it in three

manifestoes that he published between 1823 and 1839, was to create an internationalist

American literature that based its exceptionality upon the uniqueness of the North

American continent. Longfellow promoted his plan for an environmentally determined

national literature through the 1850s, with the help of other powerful critics like James

Russell Lowell, against Young Americans like Cornelius Mathews who were vehemently

promoting a drastically different American literature rooted in nativist patriotism, and he

attempted to fulfill his vision of an environmentally determined national literature in









Evangeline and The Song ofHiawatha. Longfellow's plan for the development of a

legitimate American literature depended upon the continued existence of a pristine and

culturally significant North American environment. By the time that Santayana and

Brooks formulated their vision of "American Literature" in the early twentieth century,

any lingering notion of an environmentally determined national literature had largely

vanished, and American Literature had become the product of an inclusive Whitmanian

personality that was clothed in naturalistic rhetoric but freed from any dependence upon

material nature itself.

Chapter 4 argues that Willa Cather and John Steinbeck, who recognized American

culture as an environmentally destructive force, reacted to environmental crisis with an

Emersonian environmental vision that suited the literary expectations of a national

audience that they believed would not tolerate any declaration of an unequivocally

environmentalist position. As Emerson does in the nineteenth century, the fictional

characters of Cather and Steinbeck-and in some instances the authors themselves-fix

their environmental gazes upon metonyms of environmental health and viability. Cather's

characters maintain their faith in the permanence and permanent virginity of nature by

fixing her environmental gazes upon horizons and vast environmental cycles, while

Steinbeck and his characters contemplate whether scientifically preserving small bits of

the natural world from beneath the eaves of industry can provide a satisfactory hedge

against widespread environmental destruction. Although Cather's refusal of

environmental activism may be excused as a function of her general belief that literature

should abstain from politics, there were plenty of reasons to stay within the Emersonian

paradigm of abstract nature during the early twentieth century. Steinbeck seems to speak









for both of them, and for the historical moment in general, in fact, when he suggests that

launching a pointed environmentalist attack on American culture would subject anyone-

authors included-to the social ostracism and group violence that befalls outcasts and

monstrous figures throughout his body of work.

Drawing upon the spatial theories of Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari and

Michel de Certeau, Chapter 5 pursues two goals: it offers a revisionist account of Zora

Neale Hurston's relationship with the Harlem Renaissance and it suggests that her work,

read in the context of her letters and biographies, offers one way out of the Emersonian

tradition of environmental abstraction. Although she is often portrayed as a central figure

in the Harlem Renaissance-as the fun-loving, brash, life-of-the-party Zora-I argue that

Hurston resented the system of patronage that she experienced in Harlem and that she

viewed the South, and Florida in particular, as a place where the abjection of patronage

could be avoided, where an alternative black art community could be formed and

sustained, and where a vibrant black life could be practiced without impediment. From

Richard Wright to Hazel Carby, Hurston's critics have claimed that she refused to engage

the Great Migration and the desperate situation that the South offered to African

Americans at the turn of the twentieth century. Against this line of critique, though, I

suggest that Hurston's work is a bold act of spatial reterritorialization that uses fiction to

reclaim a highly organic and immanently physical natural space within which a rich and

vibrant African-American life can be practiced without fear, humiliation, or apology.

I close Looking Away with an afterword that presents Ernest Hemingway as the

fulfillment of American literature's politics of environmental evasion. Particularly in

texts like In Our Time and Green Hills of Africa, Hemingway admits the reality of









widespread environmental destruction but simultaneously proclaims that there will

always be a "last good country" somewhere for those who have the knowledge, desire,

and means to pursue it. He projects unpenetrated environments into indeterminate

futures and retreats into imperialist quests for wild nature in Africa-in all cases

maintaining an ahistorical, illimitable, and indestructible simulacrum of nature that comes

to him from Emerson and promoting a Thoreauvean program of environmental

imperialism that lack's Thoreau's claim that the self is the wilderness most worthy of

pursuit.

Notes


1 Several points warrant clarification from the beginning. First, "New
Americanists" has become something of an empty term because the type of criticism to
which it refers has come to dominate the field of Americanist criticism. I am using the
name, however, to refer to a group of critics who were among the first to break from the
myth/symbol school of criticism that dominated American Studies during the mid-
twentieth century, and I generally accept the boundaries of the field as Pease describes it
in "New Americanists: Revisionist Interventions into the Canon." Here, Pease offers this
list of the field's "master-texts": F. O. Matthiessen's American Renaissance (1941);
Henry Nash Smith's Virgin Land (1950); R. W. B. Lewis's The American Adam (1955);
Richard Chase's The American Novel and Its Tradition (1957); Harry Levin's The Power
ofBlackness: Hawthorne, Poe, Melville (1958); Leslie Fiedler's Love and Death in the
American Novel (1960); Marcus Bewley's The Eccentric Design (1963); Leo Marx's The
Machine in the Garden (1965); Richard Poirier's A World Elsewhere (1966); Quentin
Anderson's The Imperial Self(1971); Sacvan Bercovitch's American Jeremaid (1973)"
(12). As Pease's argument develops he makes it quite clear who the "New Americanists"
are and exactly how they are working to change the field of American Studies: Smith's
Virgin Land gives way to Annette Kolodny's Lay of the Land and Slotkin' s Fatal
Environment; R. W. B. Lewis' s American Adam becomes Myra Jehlen's American
Incarnation, Carolyn Porter's Seeing and Being, or Henry Louis Gates's Figures in
Black; Chase's American Novel and its Tradition ends up Russel Resing's Unusable
Past; Roy Harvey Pearce's Continuity of American Poetry translates to Paul Bove's
Deconstructive Poetics, while Bercovitch's American Jeremaid finishes as Frank
Lentricchia's Criticism and Social Change" (32)
Secondly, the essay that I am discussing in the first paragraph of my introduction,
""National Identities, Postmodern Artifacts, and Postnational Narratives," is one of
several pieces by Donald Pease that I will engage here. Because they have complex
publication histories, I believe a brief explanation from the outset may eliminate any
confusion. "National Identitites" is included in the second of two essay collections,










edited by Pease, that were published in 1994. The first of these volumes, Revisionist
Interventions into the Americanist Canon, was originally published as boundary 2 17.1
(1990), and the second, National Identities and Post-Americanist Narratives, was
originally published as boundary 2 19.1 (1993). As I will mention later, Pease opens the
first volume with his own "New Americanists: Revisionist Interventions into the Canon,"
which critiques Frederick Crews's "Whose American Renaissance?" and he begins the
second volume with "National Identities," which continues his critique of Crews while
also revising the position that he stakes out in his earlier "New Americanists." The
publication histories of these volumes are important, I believe, because it reveals two
critical moments in the late twentieth-century transformation of American Studies. When
Pease first wrote "New Americanists," the state of the discipline was still very much in
conflict, the course of the future was uncertain, and he was attempting to shape that
uncertain future. By 1994, however, Pease and the other "New Americanists" had all but
completed their revision of the field and the re-printed issues of boundary 2 are two of
what Kramer recognizes as several "taking-stock volumes" that New Americanists
produced as their particular methods-which had seemed radical to those like Crews-
became mainstream (109).
2 Since he published The Environmental Imagination, Buell has continued to
publish explicitly ecocritical work-Writingfor an Endangered World : Literature,
Culture, andEnvironment in the U.S. and Beyond (2001) and The Future of
Environmental Criticism: Environmental Crisis And Literary Imagination (2005)-and
he has become something of a figurehead for ecocriticism. He served as the plenary
speaker for the 2003 meeting of the Association for the Study of Literature and
Environment, and in a short review of Writingfor an Endangered World, Ulrich Baer
offers this quick description of Buell's status within the field, which is particularly
effective for the way that it straddles accuracy and overstatement: "Buell ... is godfather
to the academic field of ecocriticism" (emphasis added).

3 As I will discuss throughout Looking Away, Recent histories of environmentalism,
such as Robert Gottlieb's Forcing the Spring: The Transformation of the American
Environmental Movement insist upon a similarly long view of environmental politics.















CHAPTER 2
JAMES FENIMORE COOPER, AMERICAN CANON FORMATION,
AND THE ERASURE OF ENVIRONMENTAL ANXIETY

In his most enduring body of work, the five novels of the Leatherstocking Series,

published between 1823 and 1841, James Fenimore Cooper argues that the United States

is expanding into a limited environment, that its dominant capitalist culture is

environmentally ruinous and unsustainable, that the continent has always already been a

contested space rather than a virgin void, and that language and science are transparent

mechanisms of a Euro-American imperialism that was much more complex than the

squatters, squires, and outcasts that populate his romances. James Fenimore Cooper, his

writings, and his environmental awareness, however, have all been written out of the field

of American literature by generations of critics whose aesthetic projects and political

interests differ drastically from his own.

During his own lifetime, Cooper was tremendously successful in commercial

terms, but he had his difficulties. He was born into a federalist family and held federalist

sympathies as the nation turned toward Jeffersonian, and later Jacksonian, democratic

politics. He was a voice of cultural reflexivity that maintained an internationalist

perspective in the face of growing American nationalism and artistic nativism. During

his lifetime, however, he never faced the type of sustained critical dismantling that really

begins with Mark Twain's famous 1895 "Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offences," which

Jonathan Arac accurately describes in "Nationalism, Hypercanonization, and Huckleberry

Finn" as an attempt to remove literature from history and politics. Beginning shortly









after the publication of Twain's essay and throughout most of the twentieth century,

major critics of American literature and culture including George Santayana, Van Wyck

Brooks, D. H. Lawrence, F. 0. Matthiessen, Henry Nash Smith, Richard Chase, Leslie

Fiedler, even Leo Marx, have fulfilled Twain's vision an ahistorical and apolitical

literature through the institution of a literary aesthetic that is based upon what Jane

Tompkins calls the "modernist demands" of "psychological complexity, moral

ambiguity, epistemological sophistication, stylistic density, formal economy" (xvii). The

critics who have endorsed this modernist aesthetic have devalued "works whose stated

purpose is to influence the course of history, and which therefore employ a language that

is not only not unique but common and accessible to everyone," and in the process they

have drastically devalued Cooper and almost entirely silenced the environmental

anxieties that are a part of his vision of a historically and politically embedded natural

world (125).

Removing Cooper from History

When Twain issued his 1895 mockery of James Fenimore Cooper, George

Santayana had already earned his B. A. at Harvard in 1882 and was working toward the

Ph.D. and faculty appointment that he would earn from the same institution in 1889. Five

years later, in 1904, Van Wyck Brooks enrolled at Harvard. T. S. Eliot followed in 1906.

Before Santayana emigrated to Great Britain in 1912, he had made lasting impressions on

Brooks, who graduated in 1907, and Eliot, who, after earning his B.A. in 1910 and his

M.A. in 1911, had begun working toward the Ph.D. in philosophy that he would never

complete. In the early decades of the twentieth century, Santayana and Brooks offered

critiques of American literature and culture that would clear the historical stage of all but

a few figures around whom later critics, like Lawrence, Matthiessen, Chase, and Fiedler









would construct a coherent and relatively compact American canon that culminated in the

aesthetic systems of modernists like Eliot.1

In "The Genteel Tradition in American Philosophy," an address that he delivered

and published in 1911, Santayana makes a series of claims that resonate throughout the

Americanist criticism of the twentieth century. He argues that from a time shortly after

its beginning the American cultural scene has been hamstrung by a dominance an

intellectual system, derived from bastardized forms of Calvinism and Transcendentalism,

that is outdated, weak, passive, and feminine. This "genteel tradition," he argues, is the

product of a Calvinism that has lost its convictions and its sense of rigor and a

Transcendentalism that has lost its focus on systematic thought (61). It is a lazy,

decadent, and "doubly artificial" intellectual foundation that precluded the development

of any legitimate national literature with the exception of a few rare masters whose

genius could not be squelched by the meager culture that produced them (61). American

literary history, for Santayana, is limited to "Poe, Hawthorne, and Emerson," authors who

"would not retail the genteel tradition" but who were "starved" by a national culture that

could not-or would not-support them, and Walt Whitman, "the one American writer who

has left the genteel tradition entirely behind" (43, 52).

Cooper, of course, was not starved by the nineteenth-century reading public, he

did not disdain the femininity of his audience, and he was not ashamed of writing to

satisfy it, none of which is lost on Leslie Fiedler, who repeats Santayana's gender bias in

Love and Death in the American Novel when he states, in a scandalized tone, that

"Cooper began his career imitating an English gentlewoman .... It is disconcerting to

find him impersonating a female" (186).2 After Santayana's "The Genteel Tradition in









American Philosophy" and before Fiedler's Love and Death in the American Novel,

however, it was Van Wyck Brooks who was the most committed to undoing Cooper's

critical reputation. Brooks's foundational critique of Cooper appears in his 1915

America's Coming ofAge, a text that F. O. Matthiessen describes in American

Renaissance as Brooks's most rigorous, most intellectually engaged, and most critically

discriminating volume of criticism (Matthiessen xvii).

In his analysis of American culture, Brooks recapitulates Santayana's emphasis

on a divided American mind using two of the historical figures that are central to

Santayana's analysis. For Brooks, American national culture is composed of an original

puritanism that split into a "highbrow" "current of Transcendentalism" that reached its

nadir in the philosophies of Jonathan Edwards and Ralph Waldo Emerson before

becoming feminized, passive, and intellectually lazy, and a "lowbrow" "current of

catchpenny opportunism" that coalesced in the figure of Benjamin Franklin before

ultimately producing "the atmosphere of contemporary business life" (10). Brooks

argues that this bifurcated culture, this slightly redefined "genteel tradition," has stifled

cultural and literary development in the United States, that even in the second decade of

the twentieth century the nation is still "like a vast Sargasso Sea-a prodigious welter of

unconscious life, swept by ground-swells of half-conscious emotion" from which very

few authors of merit have been able to emerge (164).

Following Santayana, Brooks regards Emerson, Hawthorne, and Poe as qualified

successes whose writings can do no better than present a "fastidiously intellectual"

"shadow world ... in which only two colors exist, white and black," while hailing Walt

Whitman as the only American literary figure who has been able to transcend the









strictures of his native culture (113). Whitman, Brooks argues, was "a great vegetable of

a man, all of a piece in roots, flavor, substantiality, and succulence, well-ripened in the

common sunshine" who offered America, "for the first time .. something organic in

American life" (112). Within his organic self, "the hitherto incompatible extremes of the

American temperament were fused;" he "cast into a crucible" "all those things which had

been separate, self-sufficient, incoordinate" in American culture, and "they emerged,

harmonious and molten, in a fresh democratic ideal, which is based upon the whole

personality" (112, 118).

As critical as they were to establishing the centrality of Emerson, Poe,

Hawthorne, and Whitman within an emerging American national literature, these

arguments of Santayana and Brooks alternately exclude and dismiss Cooper. Never a

subject of discussion in Santayana's work, where he looms as a silent and

unacknowledged specter of the genteel tradition that disgusts him, Brooks describes

Cooper as a participant in a womanish and domestic "literature of necessity" (47).

Entirely secondary to a higher "absolute literature," Cooper's variety of literature, Brooks

argues, was "simply a cog in the machinery of life" whose practitioners, "like prudent

women who, having moved into a new house, energetically set to work laying down

carpets, papering walls, cutting and hanging the most appropriate window-curtains, and

pruning the garden-making it, in short, a place of reasonable charm and contentment" (47

emphasis added). Authors who participated in this "literature of necessity," Brooks

argues, "were moralists ... shot through with all manner of baccalaureate ideals" who

produced texts that were rendered "barren" by "ulterior" objectives of "success or









salvation" that were as ruinous to literary production as "the ulterior object of making

money" (50, 53 emphasis added).

Brooks's patronizing claim that Cooper's art performs the "woman's work" of a

more masculine and "absolute" American literature is clearly meant to demean, as is his

quick but stabbing suggestion that any awareness of market forces produces a debased

literature. The more lasting violence that Santayana and Brooks exact against Cooper,

however, is their almost entire erasure of the literary and political situations that surround

his work. As two of his early twentieth-century defenders, Robert Spiller and Vernon

Louis Parrington, argue, Cooper emerged from a federalist political tradition and he

grappled with the federalist/democratic binary throughout his career. Cooper's father

was a federalist, he attended Yale during the reign of the arch-federalist Timothy Dwight,

and as a landowner who wished to maintain his holdings against the wishes of an

increasingly democratic populous, he had deep federalist sympathies during his own

lifetime.3

The political system that the Santayana/Brooks train of Americanist criticism

endorses, however, is clearly democratic. Brooks glorifies Whitman, after all, because he

embodies "a fresh democratic ideal" and the critics who have shaped the field after

Brooks have followed his lead. D. H. Lawrence opens his 1933 Studies in Classic

American Literature with a discussion of Benjamin Franklin and continues on to

Crevecoeur, whose yeoman agrarianism anticipates Jeffersonian democracy, and arrives

at Cooper with no more historical or political context than this. The first sentence of the

prologue to Henry Nash Smith's 1950 Virgin Landis Crevecoeur's question, "What is an

American?" From there, Smith opens his book with a discussion of Jefferson and follows









a democratic trajectory that culminates in a chapter on democracy's bard, Walt Whitman,

before ever engaging Cooper. Even Leo Marx's 1964 Machine in the Garden, which one

might reasonably expect to engage Cooper, opens with a discussion of Hawthorne,

proceeds into a discussion of Shakespeare, and then entirely overshoots Cooper and his

historical moment as it moves from discussions of Robert Beverly and Jefferson to

Emerson, Thoreau, Melville, Twain, Henry James, and F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Rehistoricizing Cooper

A century-old tradition of ahistorical criticism-punctuated only by the rare

historical emphasis of a Spiller or Parrington until the paradigm-shifting work of Nina

Baym, Jane Tompkins, Jonathan Arac, and Donald Pease in the 1980s and 1990s-stands

in the way of historicizng Cooper in any fashion, but to suggest that Cooper's famous

lamentations of environmental abuse should be taken seriously as moments of legitimate

environmentalist resistance is to stack roadblock upon roadblock.4 When Leo Marx

initially published The Machine in the Garden, critics argued that his basic thesis

transposed a twentieth-century technological anxiety onto nineteenth-century texts, that

his work was anachronistic or "presentist," and the threat of such criticism seems to

continue to hang over any investigation of environmentalist sentiment in pre-

contemporary American literature.5

Americanist scholarship in general and Cooper criticism in particular have each

worked to squelch any suggestion that legitimate environmentalist sympathies can be

read in Cooper's texts. One of the first major critical texts to suggest such a reading,

Annette Kolodny's The Lay of the Land, was met with almost immediate refutation.6

Kolodny argues that "young James Fenimore Cooper saw with dismay the gutting of

forests and the increase of the population," that his creation of Templeton in The









Pioneers was a deliberate attempt "to correct some of the abuses he had witnessed," and

that his landowning aristocrat, Marmaduke Temple was a "well-intentioned

conservationist" for his attempts at regulating fishing and hunting seasons and for his

interest in similar means of protecting forests (72, 91). In her 1979 New World, New

Earth, Cecilia Tichi attempts to sweep the feet from under Kolodny by arguing that the

recognition of conservationist sentiments in pre-contemporary authors is nothing more

than an act of "mistaking palpable present effects for past intentions" (xvii). "Far from

heedlessly vandalizing the environment," Tichi argues, "early Americans saw its

modification-in fact, its reform-as an ideological imperative that must proceed together

with America's moral regeneration" (viii). Within this frame, Tichi argues that

In Cooper's fiction, environmental reform is a national imperative authorized by
the American gentleman who is Cooper's national paragon. While the
Leatherstocking Tales collectively affirm the aesthetic and ethical values of the
pristine wilderness, principally through the character of Natty Bumppo, the
novelist's American gentleman mandate environmental reform in the name of
civilization. (169)

The essential differences between the interpretations of Kolodny and Tichi lie in their

critical and cultural politics. Kolodny is engaged in defining strains of dissent whereas

Tichi, as this long passage demonstrates, only grants legitimacy to dominant or

mainstream ideologies. Because Cooper was skeptical about the national project of

transforming the New World into a "New Earth," Tichi interprets Cooper's entire artistic

project as a failure that ends in "moral allegory" and "diatribe unleavened by satiric

skill," a "fecal commemoration of a rotten New Earth" (187).

In essays that focus exclusively on James Fenimore Cooper, Richard Godden and

Charles Swann follow Tichi in rejecting Cooper's environmental anxieties by

deconstructing the innocence of Marmaduke Temple's game laws in The Pioneers. In a









statement that aligns his critical perspective with that of Tichi in New World, New Earth,

Godden writes that "Temple's game laws" are "too often taken ecologically. Temple as

conservationist arises exclusively from twentieth-century misreading; his interest in deer,

maple and bass, like his interest in coal and canals, expresses a preoccupation with

development" (125). And while Swann does not entirely discredit the conservationist

aims of Temple's game laws in such a manner, he recognizes that "the history of game

laws is a history of class laws," and he argues that Temple's game laws constitute "a

democratic rhetoric referring to the rule of law which conceals the way in which a would-

be American aristocracy is in danger of replicating an aristocratic Europe" (97, 100).

Tichi, Godden, and Swann submit Kolodny's initial claims about Cooper's

environmentalist concerns to valuable scrutiny, but they perform their own misreadings

by dismissing environmentalism as a strictly contemporary movement and by failing to

read Cooper's environmental interventions against the much different environmental

attitudes of the federalist tradition out of which he emerged and for which we all know he

held deep sympathies. Although environmentalism is popularly periodized as the product

of the 1960s and 1970s (the decades that produced Rachel Carson's Silent Spring in

1962, the passage of the Wilderness Act in 1964, and the celebration of Earth Day in

1970), historians of the movement agree, almost unanimously, that the movement has

much older origins. Some scholars, such as Max Oelschlaeger and Carolyn Merchant,

locate the origins of environmental crisis in "Judeo-Christian," or "Abrahamic," land

ethics (Oelschlaeger's terms) and the European Enlightenment while they locate points of

environmentalist resistance throughout their telescopic historical narratives.

Oelschlaeger and Merchant offer the most radical histories of environmental crisis and









environmental resistance, but even the consensus among more conventional historians of

environmentalism such as Samuel P. Hays, Roderick Nash, William Cronon, Stephen

Fox, Robert Gottlieb, and Jack Davis, however, holds that "the roots of American

environmentalism," which is my most immediate concern here, "were planted well before

the nineteenth century," that "since the colonial times, there were those who perceived-

and some who lamented-the dramatic transformation of a pristine continent as a result of

European migration, European technology, European economics, and European values"

(Shabecoff 2).8

From a historical perspective that grants environmentalism a deep history, it is

perfectly reasonable to situate American federalism in a long history of environmental

destruction and environmentalist resistance, but situating Cooper in such a history is

more difficult. Any sense of environment in mainstream American literary criticism has

been thoroughly depoliticized and transformed into discussions of landscape, symbol, or

myth, while the dominant critical tradition-as it has been shaped by those like Santayana,

Brooks, and Lawrence-has created a literary teleology of democracy that finds its earliest

articulation in a Crevecoeur whose goal of defining a new and culturally autonomous

American in largely optimistic terms has always suited the literary institution's critical

objectives. Through the work of those like Lawrence and Henry Nash Smith,

Crevecoeur's 1784 Letters from an American Farmer has simply become an American

master text that provides a familiar-but not necessarily the best or the most complete-

context for all that surrounds it.

In Cooper 's Leather-Stocking Novels, Geoffrey Rans attempts to situate Cooper

in the context of American federalism by the "trenchant republicanism of the opening of









The Pioneers" as a continuation of Hector St. John de Crevecoeur's faith in "'the happy

effects which constantly flow ... from sobriety and industry, when united with good land

and freedom'" (6). While I find Rans's concern with republicanism well directed, I do

not believe that Crevecoeur's text is the best point of entry into Cooper's art. In his own

day, Crevecoeur' s 1784 Letters from an American Farmer would have hardly seemed

more "literary" than several federalist histories of American settlement that were written

by figures close to Cooper. Fenimore Cooper's father, William Cooper, and Timothy

Dwight, who was president of Yale University while Fenimore Cooper was a student

there, both published texts that pay close attention to the relationship between American

culture and the North American environment.9 Following the methods and concerns of

Jeremy Belknap's History of New Hampshire (published in three volumes between 1784

and 1792), William Cooper's 1810 A Guide in the Wilderness and Dwight's Travels in

New England and New York (published in four volumes during 1821 and 1822) record

the history of the United States in environmental, social, and religious terms, and they

devote significant space to describing United States expansionism as a wholly benevolent

process that nonetheless needed strict guidance to prevent it from becoming wasteful and

environmentally unsustainable.10

When Fenimore Cooper discusses processes of European settlement and the North

American environment in the Leatherstocking series, he writes in conversation with these

texts-sometimes extending their arguments and sometimes rejecting them. The most

obvious difference between the federalist histories and Cooper's historical romances are

Cooper's deep misgivings about the environmental consequences and sustainability of

American expansionism. The federalist histories envision United States expansionism as









the extension of individual enterprise into a virgin void, and they identify environmental

exhaustion as a real but remediable threat to the progress of national expansion. In the

Leatherstocking series, on the other hand, Cooper presents American expansionism as a

much more complex and insidious national project involving the military, linguistic, and

scientific subjugation of a socio-politically embedded un-virgin space, and he rejects the

managerial optimism of his father and Timothy Dwight to present resource exhaustion as

an unsolvable impediment to the expansion of American "civilization."

Throughout the four volumes of his Travels in New England and New York,

Dwight explains that settlement involves unattractive phases characterized by tree stumps

and burnt tree trunks like the ones that snow obscures from Elizabeth Temple's view at

the beginning of The Pioneers. None of the ugliness involved in the process, however,

prevents Dwight from declaring that newly settled valleys in the bloom of cultivation

present the "richest prospect in New England," if not "in the United States," that North

America is filled with inexhaustible resources, and that the transformation of wilderness

into civilization can be accomplished using methods that are alternately good and bad (1:

257). In one of his most ecstatic moments, for instance, he views the Connecticut River

valley from the summit of Mount Holyoke and finds that

A perfect neatness and brilliancy is everywhere diffused, without a neglected spot
to tarnish the luster or excite a wish in the mind for a higher finish. All these
objects united present here a collection of beauties to which I know no parallel.
When the eye traces this majestic stream, meandering with a singular course
through these delightful fields ... it will be difficult not to say that with these
exquisite varieties of beauty and grandeur the relish for landscape is filled. (1:
259)

This vision, one of the most enraptured of Dwight's entire four-volume travel

narrative, is surely a legitimate response to a remarkable place, but it's effect is aided by









the elevated, panoramic, and godlike perspective of Dwight's gaze." At ground level,

however, Dwight, like Belknap and William Cooper, cannot avoid the fact that such

idyllic scenes depend on the perpetuity of the immanently exhaustible natural resources

that make them possible. Of these three authors, only Belknap, in the earliest of the texts

I am discussing here, entirely avoids issues of resource scarcity. Belknap never admits

any real limits to nature's resources, but he does suggest that human impact-deforestation

in particular-may result in permanent climate change, and he offers detailed advice on

"rural economy," or how to make the best use of whatever natural resources may be

available at any particular location (Belknap 3: 248).12

William Cooper and Dwight, writing slightly later than Belknap, are deeply

anxious about the durability of environmental resources. Cooper's text is written in

direct response to a letter from William Sampson that suggests Cooper should boast "of

having cut down two millions of trees," only before asking Cooper, several pages later, if

"too great zeal for clearing may render [timber] in some time as scarce as it is now

abundant" (4). The best Cooper can do is confirm that forest exhaustion is a real threat,

but Dwight, who is reluctant even to make this concession, demonstrates more clearly

that the only response to environmental depletion within a federalist vision of American

society is a faith in the regenerative capacity of the natural world that he weds to a laissez

fire faith in the ultimate triumph of the type of "good" federalism that Cooper spells out

in his Guide.

In his most vehement critique of deforestation, Dwight writes that

The people of Newbury appear to have cut down their forest with an improvident
hand: an evil but too common in most parts of this country. Unhappily it is an
increasing evil, and may hereafter put a final stop to the progress of population
long before it will have reached to the natural acme. Almost every person









complains of this imprudence; and yet not a single efficacious nor hopeful
measure is adopted to lessen or even check it. ... Forecast is certainly no
predominant trait in the character of man, else an evil of this magnitude would
create very serious apprehensions. (2: 238)

It may be obvious, but the particular vigor of this statement is worth emphasizing.

Dwight considers this "improvident" destruction of forest "evil," and he recognizes that

the situation in Newbury is merely representative of a much larger problem. The

consequences, for Dwight, are clear and drastic: the misuse of resources hay hinder

population growth, and, to read what I think runs just beneath the surface of Dwight's

statement, may prevent the nation from reaching the "natural acme" that Dwight clearly

believes throughout his Travels to be total transcontinental domination.

Dwight is clearly troubled by the fact that in Newbury's representative situation

"not a single efficacious nor hopeful measure is adopted to lessen or check" the course of

environmental destruction, but he does nothing to suggest any regulatory measures. His

most common response, to the contrary, is to emphasize that forests renew themselves"

(1: 75). In the first volume of his Travels, for instance, Dwight writes to his imagined

British reader that "it may seem strange to you, accustomed as you are to see forest trees

planted in great numbers and preserved with great care, that the inhabitants of this

country should so soon after its colonization have cut down their forests in this extensive

manner .... this wanton manner without any apparent reason" (1: 74-75). To explain

this strange phenomenon-and to diffuse the environmental anxiety that I believe neither

William Cooper nor James Fenimore Cooper can entirely ignore-Dwight explains that

"the wood of this country is its fuel" and that the trees of New England "renew

themselves" in a "manner and by a process totally superior to any contrived by the human

mind;" they are "furnished by the Author of Nature with the means of perpetual self-









restoration" (1: 75). "Good grounds," he continues "yield a growth [of wood] amply

sufficient for fuel once in fourteen years" and with proper husbandry "the forests of New

England become in a sense ever living and supply plentifully the wants of the

inhabitants" (1: 75).

The only solution to environmental depletion for Dwight is nature's regenerative

capacity, which he believes to be greater in North American than anywhere else. William

Cooper, however, mounts an argument in his Guide that Dwight would absolutely affirm:

the only way to ensure a prosperous and sustainable settlement (in social, economic, and

environmental terms) is to institute a benevolent federalist social and political plan.

Where Cooper sees failed settlements (among which I believe Dwight's Newbury would

qualify), he sees the failure of "plans" in which large landlords "have reserved favorite

tracts, retained mill sites in their own hands; ... opened expensive roads, and built costly

bridges at their own charge. They have too early insisted with rigor upon payment, and

forced the purchaser to surrender a part or the whole of his possession" (37). Cooper's

plan, which he promotes throughout the Guide, involves large landowners granting land

to both rich and poor settlers, actually selling rather than leasing tracts of land, and

cultivating goodwill and a sense of community among settlers by practicing extreme

patience with lien holders and accomplishing large-scale improvements through

communal effort.

William Cooper and Timothy Dwight feel that an ill-managed federalist

settlement governed by greedy and speculative patricians can produce results just as

devastating to the raw materials of national prosperity as the type of thoroughly self-

serving democratic mob that Fenimore Cooper represents in the pioneering Ishmael Bush









clan of The Prairie. Despite the fact that he always harbored deep misgivings about

democracy, Fenimore Cooper breaks from the federalist faith of his father and Timothy

Dwight. In structuring the central conflicts of The Pioneers around the looming spectre

of environmental exhaustion that his forefathers ignored or downplayed, Fenimore

Cooper demonstrates that he has no faith that any social or governmental system can

control the environmental rapacity that he recognizes to be a fundamental component of

an essentially violent and imperialistic Euro-American culture.

Scholars like Godden and Swann have certainly identified the self-interest

involved in Marmaduke Temple's creation of game laws, but such arguments fail to

recognize that the federalist vision that William Cooper and Timothy Dwight promote

relies upon a benevolent aristocratic self-interest and that in several key places Fenimore

Cooper extends the problem of resource exhaustion beyond any sense of personal interest

as he implies that it impinges on regional and national prosperity. In his A Guide in the

Wilderness, William Cooper is quite clear that the best interests of landowners should

also serve the best interests of their tenants, and Judge Temple's laws represent an

attempt at fulfilling the type of managerial perfection that William Cooper envisions.

And when the game laws emerge flawed-they not only solidify a class system but, at

least in the case of the fishing regulations, work against their own stated conservationist

goals-,13 they signal not only the failure of Judge Temple but also the failure of the entire

federalist system that extends back to Cooper and Dwight.

The failure of Temple's game laws is all the more painful for the fact that

throughout The Pioneers Cooper stares environmental destruction in the face as neither

Dwight nor William Cooper ever could. Where Dwight and Cooper ignore or explain









away alarming forms of environmental destruction, in the 1832 introduction to The

Pioneers, Cooper foregrounds his text with a footnote that calls particular attention to

environmental destruction. Using language that could not be more direct, he writes that

"the Otsego is beginning to be a niggard of its treasures," and in the body of the novel

itself-and significantly outside the dramatic pigeon-shooting and fishing scenes that

garner so much critical attention-Cooper defines environmental scarcity as a problem

with regional and national implications that extend beyond any sense of personal self

interest (9). When Temple remarks that settlers are "'already felling the forests as if no

end could be found to their treasures, nor any limits to their extent twenty years hence

we shall want fuel,"' he presents a strident definition-against the resistance of Richard

Jones, who constantly preaches nature's illimitability-of the natural world as limited and

threatened by destruction at human hands, and he offers this comment in a tone vague

enough to suggest that the problem extends well beyond the bounds of Templeton (105).

More than two hundred pages later, when the novel again turns to a discussion of the

state of forests, Cooper absolutely rejects Dwight's faith in forests' regenerative capacity

when he has Temple remind Billy Kirby that the maples he is damaging "'are the growth

of centuries, and when once gone, none living will ever see their loss remedied'" (228).

By the time that Natty Bumppo flees Templeton for the uninhabited wilds where

he reappears in The Prairie, he and Cooper have both abandoned any faith in

federalism's ability to ameliorate environmental destruction. When Natty turns westward,

he concedes that not even a federalist patrician like Oliver Edwards, who has been trained

by Natty himself in the bosom of the nation's nature and who has married a woman in









Elizabeth Temple who appreciates nature's beauty, can quell either his own rapacious

impulses or those of such reckless individuals as Richard Jones and Billy Kirby.

Ultimately, Cooper cannot see a way out of the patterns of environmental

destruction that he confronts in The Pioneers, but his rejection of established federalist

modes of viewing the environment and avoiding environmental crisis develop, as

Leatherstocking series continues, into a thorough critique of the U. S.'s orientation

toward the natural space it occupies. Although his engagement with the problem is often

less explicit than it is in The Pioneers, throughout the rest of the Leatherstocking tales

Cooper sustains a critical counternarrative against any triumphalist notion of North

American environmental virginity or illimitability. From The Last of the Mohicans to

The Deerslayer (the second and final novels of the series), Cooper situates American

expansionism as the product of military, linguistic, and scientific violence taking place in

a wholly unromantic space that does not constitute virgin ground so much as an already

bloody field that Europeans and white Americans have recently come to occupy simply

as the most violent, insidious, and numerous forces in play.

In The Spy, Cooper presents the North American environment as contested space,

or "neutral ground," but beginning with The Last of the Mohicans, he begins to mount a

more radical rejection of the "virgin land" myth. Rather than empty or virgin space, in

each of the Leatherstocking tales after The Pioneers (The Last of the Mohicans, The

Prairie, The Pathfinder, and The Deerslayer) Cooper consistently describes the North

American environment as a space of bloody conflict. As the first novel of the

Leathestocking series to descend into the prehistory of The Pioneers, The Last of the

Mohicans describes the North American continent as a space that has been shaped by









violence since European settlement. Cooper insists that "there was no recess of the

woods so dark, nor any secret place so lovely, that it might claim exemption from the

inroads of those who had pledged their blood to satiate their vengeance, or to uphold the

cold and selfish policy of the distant monarchs of Europe" (11). He recognizes, as Rans

explains, that "European arms" represent a clear "threat to nature, powerful though the

presence of the forest is," and that the European "imperial adventure" "has at its end the

defilement of nature" (Rans 109, 108, 107). The village of Templeton, Cooper suggests

at the outset of The Last of the Mohicans, is not simply the product of what Timothy

Dwight would describe as "equivocal," or mysterious, "generation;" it is built, much to

the contrary, in a region that was first "a bloody arena," a "scene of strife and bloodshed"

(Mohicans 13).

The Last of the Mohicans suggests that North American space has been a zone of

contest since the European incursion, but Cooper makes more radical claims in The

Prairie and The Deerslayer. In both of these novels, he denies any sense that the North

American continent had ever, at least within human history, constituted a virgin or empty

space. As Ishmael Bush and Thomas Hutter push their predictable ideas of property

ownership into various frontier zones, Cooper emphasizes that their claims of ownership

are not the first but merely the newest-that every North American space has always

existed under military and political mediation. Through the voice of Natty Bumppo in

The Prairie, for instance, Cooper insists that 'The Teton and the Pawnee and the Konza,

and men of a dozen other tribes claim to own these naked fields'" that Ishmael Bush is

attempting to possess, and in his own undisguised narratorial voice Cooper adds that

Bush's attempt at legitimizing his land-grabbing is a "wild conceit" (78).









Cooper's rejection of the virgin land myth is more radical in The Deerslayer by

virtue of its deconstruction of the myth in an even more remote historical moment. Here,

in a novel set in 1745 and well beyond the geographical boundaries of regular European

settlement, in a scene that William P. Kelly receives uncritically as "a virgin wilderness,"

Cooper punctures the myth of virgin land by planting a fortified house, "Muskrat Castle,"

in the middle of the most unspoiled natural space that he ever describes (39). The very

fact that Tom Hutter's "castle," which Kelly does recognize to contain contains numerous

symbols of European power and violence, has come to be stationed in the middle of the

lake in the first place is a constant reminder that this seemingly primitive location is

already overwritten with conflicts of ownership-Hutter has built the castle in the lake

because native Americans-who do not recognize Hutter's claim of ownership-have

repeatedly burnt him out of the homes he built on dry land. As Natty and Hurry Harry

discuss the implications of this fortified house that seems to float in the middle of the

lake, they enumerate the claims of ownership that hang over the place: they mention that

the only "'lawful owner'" of the place is "'the King,'" but that "Tom Hutter ... has got

possession and is like to keep it as long as his life lasts," while at the same time Native

Americans "'come and go'" but leave the impression that "'the country seems to belong

to no native tribe in particular'"-all of this despite the fact that "'Mohawks'" are in a

position to cede the land should a "'heavy enough'" buyer emerge (37-38).

From particular points of view-particularly those that read Cooper's engagement

with issues of property and class in the context of his own loss of property and status-it is

certainly possible to interpret Cooper's rejection of the virgin land idea as little more than

a legitimization of Europe's bloody involvement in what was always a violently









negotiated space. Within the frame of federalist historiography and Cooper's

engagement with it, however, his rejection of the virgin land myth forces violent

European (and later, American) imperialism to appear as the violent acts that they are

without being distorted by a screen of cultural myth that transforms the acts into a

sanitized and ambivalent expansion into empty space. This argument is further

supported, I believe, by evidence that Cooper understood European and American

imperialism to be vast and complex mechanisms composed of seemingly innocuous

forces-namely, language and science.

Cooper invests language with significant spatial agency in The Last of the

Mohicans and The Deerslayer, while he places science-in the form of natural history-in

the vanguard of American expansionism in The Prairie. In The Last of the Mohicans and

The Deerslayer, Cooper does something in his place descriptions that Timothy Dwight

and William Cooper never do in their historical works: he peels away the layers of

language that have been superimposed over particular places over spans of time, and he

associates the most recent layers of language as racially and environmentally destructive.

Cooper performs this archaeology of place names at the outset of The Last of the

Mohicans. In a passage that would seem horribly and unnecessarily circumlocutious to

Lawrence, Fiedler, or Chase, Cooper refuses to simply state that the action of the story

occurs around Lake George, a place that Dwight visited and described in his Travels

without any sort of equivocation whatsoever. Cooper explains, instead, that the central

action of the story will occur around a lake that the French had named "'du Saint

Sacrement,"' that the English had named Lake George, and that the Native Americans

had named "'Horican"' (12). The process of naming, Cooper recognizes, erases not only









a Native American name but also the act of the violent act of renaming-the names "Lake

George" and "du Saint Sacrement" were only established, Cooper writes, because

European nations had "united to rob the untutored possessors of the wooded scenery of

their native right" (12, emphasis added). Cooper finds this history of naming significant

enough to expand it into a footnote where he suggests an even deeper linguistic history of

the place (since the Indians have multiple languages and dialects, the lake may have even

more names), where he translates the Indian name "Horican" into "The Tail of the Lake"

(which is significantly devoid of the religious and nationalist connotations of the French

and English names) and where he cheapens the enduring and legal "Lake George"

appellation by describing it as "vulgar" (12).

This same attention to place names (which loosens the coherence of Cooper's

plots and adds a layer of complexity that would never improve his standing in the main

line of Americanist criticism) also appears in The Deerslayer, with the added caveat that

here the arrival of an English name is clearly understood to herald a place's destruction.

One ofNatty's reactions to seeing Glimmerglass lake is to ask Hurry Harry, "'Have the

governor's, or the King's people given this lake a name'" (44). Natty feels that to give a

place an English name is to "'disturb natur,'" and he is relieved to find that the place has

"'no pale face name, for their christenings always foretel waste and destruction" (45).

Despite finding pleasure in the absence of an official English name, Natty understands

that the place still exists in a historical and social matrix involving "red skins," who

would "have their own modes of knowing it" and who would be "'likely to call the place

by something reasonable and resembling,'" even if he does not know the names himself

(45).









Cooper clearly understands that language is an agent of imperial violence and

erasure, and he describes language as one of the first mechanisms of imperialism to affect

a place after European incursion. In The Prairie, however, Cooper draws science into the

vanguard of American expansionism through his treatment of Obed Battius, whom

Richard Chase dismisses as "a scientist-pedant who has stepped out of the pages of

Smollett or Fielding to investigate the flora and fauna of the plains" who is "tiresome"

and who appears in "comic passages" that "are incredibly bad" (59).14 Regardless of the

literary history that may have influenced Cooper's development of the character, Battius

is also a significant representative in The Prairie of natural science, a science that has

been complicit with imperialist expansion since its inception.

Numerous scholars have unpacked the politics of natural science since Michel

Foulcault's groundbreaking critique of European rationalism in The Order of Things. By

now, however, it is fairly commonplace to recognize, as Lee Rust Brown does in the

context of Ralph Waldo Emerson's interest in natural history, that natural science

emerged "in the early sixteenth century" and "grew along a course parallel to that of

European exploration and colonial expansion" (97). Mary Louise Pratt, who deals with

natural science more directly than Brown, argues that natural science is actually deeply

complicit with European imperialism, and she offers a much more vivid picture of the

projects that natural science shared with European empire. Natural science's drive

toward the total systematizationn of nature," she writes, "coincides with the height of the

slave trade, the plantation system, colonial genocide in North America and South Africa,

slave rebellions in the Andes, the Caribbean, North America, elsewhere" (36).









In the Leatherstocking series, Battius, as a natural scientist, amounts to an "image

of a European bourgeois subject simultaneously innocent and imperial" and the science

that he brings into the American West asserts a seemingly "harmless hegemonic vision

that instills no apparatus of domination" (Pratt 34). The scientific "apparatus of

domination" that Battius represents is certainly less bloody than the military means of

domination that appear in The Last of the Mohicans, The Pathfinder, and The Deerslayer,

but it is far more insidious. In The Prairie, this imperial natural science has penetrated the

continental interior far beyond the reach of any significant military power, and even if

Bat is a failure of a naturalist, his presence points to the fact that natural science has

already reached and moved beyond the ground that he occupies with the Bush clan. As

soon as Battius enters the novel, Cooper uses him to explain that even though Ishmael

Bush and his family have penetrated the continent far beyond the bounds of

"civilization," they have not-and perhaps cannot-move into territory unknown to science.

Battius, after all, has just completed a two-day walk in the wilderness "without seeing

even a blade of grass that is not already enumerated and classed" (69). The place has

already been penetrated, and every organism in it classified, by a quick-moving science

that is already pushing into the West's outer reaches, even as Battius speaks, with

explorers like Lewis and Clark (whose expedition is, after all, the reason that Duncan

Uncas Middleton enters the novel in the first place). Battius brings to The Prairie the

natural scientist's ability to read a place-and to read the scientific knowledge that has

already been cast over it. Battius never finds any organisms that are unknown to science,

but everywhere he looks he finds evidence of science's presence, and by constantly

articulating the otherwise invisible presence of science Battius offers a reminder that the









entire continental span has already been penetrated, classified, and brought to order by a

scientific force that would otherwise remain invisible.



In the end, Cooper's engagement with environmental crisis, which eventually

becomes a critique of imperialist Euro-American culture, has hardly counted for anything

for the better part of a century. Shortly after the turn of the twentieth century, Robert

Spiller and Vernon Louis Parrington recognized that Cooper may have been the most

incisive critic of American literature and culture of his day, but their interpretations have

been overwritten by a dominant mode of criticism that dismisses history and politics

altogether. Cooper's abandonment of a federalist faith in environmental inexhaustibility,

his deconstruction of the American mythology of virgin land, and his recognition of

American culture as a destructive and bloody imperial force have all gone unrecognized

within a critical tradition that has considered him, in the words of Leslie Fiedler, an

ultimate failure of an author who had "all the qualifications for a great American writer

except the simple ability to write," whose works are "monumental in their cumulative

dullness," nearly "unreadable" because of their "hysteria" and "piety," appropriately

"read .. .in large print and embellished with pictures," and remembered "if at all, as

children's books, exciting and incredibly boring by turns" (191, 180).

As Rans recognizes, the gap between the publication of The Prairie and The

Pathfinder "wrought a difference in Cooper" (173). Where the opening passages of the

earlier three Leatherstocking novels begin with descriptions of nature overlaid with

"historical, ideological, or political implications," the opening scenes of The

Pathfinder and The Deerslayer feature landscapes that are deliberately mythic-or









ahistorical-and explicitly defined in terms of"the sublime, the picturesque, and the

beautiful" (Rans 173). Although, as I have demonstrated, the critique of American

expansionism that Cooper develops throughout the first three novels makes its

appearance in both The Pathfinder and The Deerslayer, these novels, the final two of the

series, present markedly different visions of a natural world. Here, for the first time,

Cooper explicitly describes nature as "sublime," a term that Cooper never uses in the

Leatherstocking series until 1841 in the opening pages of The Pathfinder.

While it is possible to explain the shifts that occur between The Prairie and The

Deerslayer as Cooper's efforts to finally turn Natty Bumppo into a mythical hero,

Cooper's turn away from the highly historically and politically enmeshed natural world

of The Pioneers, The Last of the Mohicans, and The Prairie toward the deliberately

mythical and self-consciously sublime landscapes of The Pathfinder and The

Deerslayer also participates in a national movement toward the abstract vision of nature

that Ralph Waldo Emerson articulated in his 1833 Nature. As I will discuss in the

following chapters, it would be Emerson's vision of a wholly abstract, ahistorical, and

apolitical Nature that would become, to the critical detriment of Cooper and Longfellow

(whom I will also discuss at length later in Chapter 3), the only legitimate notion of

nature within the American literary canon that began to take shape, at the hands of critics

like George Santayana and Van Wyck Brooks, in the early decades of the twentieth

century.

Notes


1 I may have never become interested in Harvard's impact on American literary
history had I not encountered Frank Lentricchia's The Modernist Quartet, which situates
Santayana, John Dewey, William James, and Josiah Royce as chief influences of T. S.
Eliot, Ezra Pound, Wallace Stevens, and Robert Frost.










2 William Charvat's discussion of Cooper in The Profession ofAuthorship in
America: 1800-1870 is still a foundational study of Cooper's commercial success and his
understanding of both his audience and the nuances of the nineteenth-century publishing
industry. James D. Wallace's Early Cooper andHis Audience, however, offers a longer
and more comprehensive analysis.

3 While William Cooper often garners a passing mention in James Fenimore
Cooper's critical biographies, as is the case in Donald A. Ringe's standard James
Fenimore Cooper, he has received very little sustained attention since Robert Spiller's
Fenimore Cooper: Critic of His Times and the second volume of Vernon Louis
Parrington's Main Currents in American Thought. In a significant exception to this
tradition of silence, however, Wayne Franklin spends a bit more space on William
Cooper in The New World of James Fenimore Cooper, but, on the whole,

4 Although it stands a bit apart from the tradition of American criticism that I am
discussing, George Lukacs's The Historical Novel also grants Cooper in an incredibly
insightful reading. For Lukacs, Cooper is inferior to Walter Scott, but he still argues that
Cooper's greatest achievement lies his use of Natty Bumppo to demonstrate that "the
enormous historical tragedy of those early colonizers who emigrated from England in
order to preserve their freedom, but who themselves destroy this freedom by their own
deeds in America" (65).

5 Marx's study was first accused of presentism by Bruce Kuklick in "Myth and
Symbol in American Studies." More recently, this charge has been reanimated by Jeffrey
Louis Decker in "Disassembling the Machine in the Garden: Antihumanism and the
Critique of American-Studies." Even ecocriticism, the theoretical school that seems
most prepared to investigate American literature's engagements with environmentalism,
seems to have been stymied by just such accusations of presentism. Although
ecocriticism has flourished since the mid-1990s, it has largely failed to engage the history
of environmentalism. Texts that are central to ecocriticism, such as Cheryll Glotfelty's
introduction to The Ecocriticism Reader and Lawrence Buell's The Environmental
Imagination: Thoreau, Nature Writing, and the Formation of American Culture readily
admit environmentalist motivations, but tend to focus their attention on ecological
science and its philosophical implications (holistic worldviews, metaphors of
connectivity) as an interpretive frame rather than investigating the intricacies of the
history of the environmental movement that could legitimize the environmentalist
sentiments that they identify but struggle to confront in "pre-environmentalist" literature.
In short, I feel that up to this point ecocriticism has largely operated from the popular and
highly limited of idea of environmentalism as a movement with little history beyond the
late twentieth century, which meshes fairly easily with the ahistorical modes of literary
criticism that have dominated the latter half of the twentieth century. One notable
exception to ecocriticism's tendency toward ahistorical and apolitical criticism is Buell's
second ecocritical work, Writing for an Endangered World: Literature, Culture, and
Environment in the U.S. andBeyond, which is much more rooted in the nuances of the
history of environmentalism.










6 Kolodny is not the first scholar to discuss Cooper's interest in conservation, but
she is the one who sparks the backlash of the critics I will discuss in the next several
paragraphs. For an earlier treatment of the issue, see E. Arthur Robinson's "Conservation
in Cooper's The Pioneers." In the next several paragraphs I will discuss a protracted
critical discussion between Annette Kolodny, Richard Godden, and Charles Swann, and I
must give credit to Geoffrey Rans for first identifying the interplay between these texts in
his Cooper's Leather-Stocking Novels: A Secular Reading. Rans suggests that Godden
and Swan effectively silence Kolodny's acceptance of Cooper-and Marmaduke Temple-
as a conservationist figure, but through the rest of this essay I hope to revitalize
Kolodny's initial assertion of Cooper's environmentalism by suggesting a broader vision
of environmentalism's history and by slightly shifting the historical context in which we
usually read Cooper.

7 By the very theoretical rubric that she establishes at the beginning of her text, in
which no form of environmentalism can play any part in any pre-contemporary text,
Tichi prevents herself from finding anything but failure in Cooper's skeptical view of the
American project of environmental modification. In staging her argument, Tichi uses
scenes from The Chainbearer and Wyandotte to argue that Cooper has no essential
problem with the destruction of wilderness but that the central thrust of his engagement
with national expansion concerned who would authorize "the use of the American axe"
(172). Tichi's use of The Chainbearer and Wyandotte to suggest that Cooper "really"
supports the clearing of wilderness allows her to flatten out the environmental tensions of
the Leatherstocking series and reduce any sense of environmental anxiety in these novels
into a discussion of class. In a similar manner, she uses Cooper's bitterly satirical
description of apocalyptic environmental disaster in The Crater (1847) (in which a
massive earthquake swallows up the entire nation and all of its agrarian improvements) to
condemn all of his environmental criticism as ridiculous.
In accusing Tichi of burying Cooper's environmental anxieties in a discussion of
class, I do not want to be misunderstood. My goal is not to merely replace her theoretical
rubric with my own environmentally sympathetic approach. The real problem of Tichi's
argument is that it drastically reduces the environmental problems that Cooper engages in
The Pioneers and the other novels of the Leatherstocking Series by transforming what is
clearly a multivocal discussion of land ethics into a single narrative of cultural and
political power that does not explain, as I will in the rest of this chapter, that the
federalism of Cooper and Marmaduke Temple is significantly different from the earlier
federalist discussions of the environment.
8 Of the recent historians of environmentalism, only Kirkpatrick Sale in The Green
Revolution argues that late twentieth-century environmentalism possesses a moment of
pure origin in the 1960s and 1970s. The question of every other historian is not whether
or not environmentalism possesses a history but where it's origins lie and how it is to be
periodized. Some of the earliest historians of environmentalism, like Samuel P. Hays and
Roderick Nash, recognized that late twentieth-century environmentalism had historical
precedents but they emphasized its difference from the earlier conservationist and
preservationist movements. William Cronon, Stephen Fox, Robert Gottlieb, and Jack
Davis offer a slightly different interpretation of the history of environmentalism. They do










not abandon periodization as entirely as Carolyn Merchant in The Death ofNature and
Max Oelschlaeger in The Idea of Wilderness but they do emphasizes continuities between
late twentieth-century environmentalism and earlier forms of environmentalist resistance.
This mode of environmentalist historiography, which limits itself largely to the history of
environmentalism in the United States, is perfectly comfortable extending the history of
environmental crisis and corresponding forms of dissent to the colonial period, as Peter
Shabecoff recognizes in the statement that I have already quoted.

9 In an effort to reduce any undue confusion, when I discuss William Cooper and
James Fenimore Cooper in close proximity, I will refer to James as "Fenimore Cooper."
10 Belknap's History of New Hampshire is a clear antecedent to Dwight's History of
New England andNew York-Dwight refers to it repeatedly throughout his text. The fact
that Cooper would have been familiar with his father's A Guide in the Wilderness is
rather obvious considering the paternal connection, but the fact that Cooper's, 1838 The
Chronicles of Cooperstown, is a deliberate revision of his father's Guide stands as further
evidence of a sustained intellectual engagement with the earlier text. It is also easy to
downplay Cooper's engagement with Timothy Dwight. Cooper was quite young when
he attended Yale University-he was admitted at the age of thirteen and he was expelled
for mischief at sixteen-and he publicly downplayed the impact of his formal education.
During his presidency, however, Yale was in almost every way Dwight's university, and
it seems that it would have been impossible to attend the university during this period
without coming into some sort of contact with him. He taught classes, preached sermons,
and presided over public student disciplinary courts like the one that expelled Cooper
from Yale after his junior year. Although we have no evidence that Cooper ever said or
wrote anything about Dwight, he did strive to maintain contact with several of his Yale
professors, particularly Benjamin Silliman, whose hiring was one of the most important
events of Dwight's tenure. The first volume of Parrington's Main Currents contains a
concise overview of Timothy Dwight, but Robert Spiller's Fenimore Cooper offers the
best description of Dwight's Yale and Cooper's engagement with it. Spiller discusses
Cooper's relationship with Silliman, but the best evidence of the relationship are the
Cooper's letters to the professor, which have been collected in The Letters and Journals
of James Fenimore Cooper, edited by James Franklin Beard.

11 For a detailed examination of how this particular type of elevated, panoramic gaze
became commonplace in late eighteenth and early nineteenth-century American culture,
see Donald A. Ringe's The Pictorial Mode: Space and Time in the Art ofBryant, Irving,
and Cooper.
12 Belknap believes that deforestation will have a beneficial moderating effect on the
climate. It is worth nothing, I believe, that Belknap is so far from condemning the
clearing of forested land that he spends a great deal of the third book of his History
describing the methods of clearing land and recommending the most efficient techniques.
The rural economy promoted by Belknap combines the particularly American problem of
clearing forested land and draining bogs with established practices of European






45



agriculture like enriching fertilizing cultivated fields with animal manure and planting
grass in old fields to restore their fertility.
13 As Swann and Rans both recognize, the fishing laws that Judge Temple has
procured from the legislature allow fishing when the fish of Lake Otsego are spawning,
which is actually when fishing causes the worst ecological damage.
14 Natural history is not the only science that Cooper critiques. He also places the
science of surveying in the vanguard of American expansionism in The Prairie and The
Deerslayer before devoting an entire novel to it in The Chainbearer. I am not treating
surveying at any great length, however, because natural science seems to be the most
invisible and invasive science in the North American continent that Cooper imagines in
the Leatherstocking Series.















CHAPTER 3
THE INSTITUTION OF EMERSONIAN ENVIRONMENTAL IMPERIALISM


While the American critical institution dismissed Cooper as a writer who "had ...

all the qualifications for a great American writer except the simple ability to write," it

formed a new American canon rooted in a modernist aesthetic and the authors, like

Emerson, Thoreau and Whitman, who anticipated it (Fiedler 191). For those like

Santayana and Brooks who helped establish this ethic and form and national canon

around it, it was Emerson-not Cooper or Longfellow, who had both established their

cultural capital in terms of popularity and commercial success-who marked the

emergence of a legitimate American literature. In Emerson, for instance, Santayana

found a truly unique philosopher of nature, an author who found nature "all beauty and

commodity," who "while operating on it laboriously, and drawing quick returns ...

began to drink in inspiration from it aesthetically" (42). Continuing Santayana's

appreciation, Brooks regarded Emerson as a follower of Jonathan Edwards's Puritan

tradition-puritanism before it became corrupted, in Brooks's formulation-at whose death

"something in the American mind really did come to an end" (COA 39-40). For

Santayana and Brooks, and for F. O. Matthiessen who would continue this argument

several decades later in his American Renaissance, Emerson is most important because

he laid the groundwork for the achievement of Walt Whitman. In Brooks's words,

Emerson "provided a skeleton outline ... in black and white" that "Whitman filled in

with color and set in three dimensions" (COA 119).1









Scholarship up until this point has simply not admitted that the definition of the

natural world Emerson presents in Nature-his first and most enduring treatise on the

subject-does not arise ex nihilo so much as it abstracts, masculinizes, and depoliticizes

existing notions of natural space to create a vision of nature that serves the purposes of

the ahistorical and apolitical aesthetic program that Twain launched in his famous 1895

critique of Cooper. The reconfiguration of natural space that Emerson accomplishes in

Nature renders a traditionally terrestrial, tactile, female gendered, and immanently

destructible space-the type of natural space that operates in the work of Cooper and

Longfellow, whose treatment of nature I will discuss in Chapter 3-into an abstract and

masculine intellectual field that contains female nature in the drastically different form of

disembodied, indestructible, and perpetually available essences that Emerson frequently

ties to astronomical signifiers. Emerson's re-theorization of nature offers, in other words,

a logic of imperial environmental domination that denies any notion of environmental

limitation or destructibility as it evades the central moral and representational crises

inherent to the destruction of what is always regarded as a female space: the rape of a

"virgin nature," "mother nature," or (perhaps the most frightening possibility) a

simultaneously pure and generative "virgin mother" nature.2

Emerson's imperialist theorization of an abstract nature is important for what it

accomplishes in its own right, but also for the particular impact that it has had on

American letters since shortly after its publication in 1833. As I will argue in the latter

portions of this chapter, shortly after Emerson theorized a way to imagine nature

masculine, illimitable, and indestructible, Henry David Thoreau would offer a praxis to

Emerson's environmental abstraction by suggesting that an imperialist quest for pure









wilderness is a legitimate method of preserving masculinity. And as I will argue in the

final chapters of Looking Away, Emerson's idea of nature-backed as it was by the

literary, critical, and cultural institutions-would offer environmentally attuned

twentieth-century authors like Willa Cather, John Steinbeck, and Ernest Hemingway a

very powerful method of mediating the cultural and psychic loss that attend American

expansionsism's environmental toll.3

Emerson, Gender, and Nature's Gender

The lives of James Fenimore Cooper and Ralph Waldo Emerson intersected at

odd points. In the 1840s, for instance, they both had dealings with Horace Greeley:

Cooper won a libel suit against him and was awarded a judgement of two hundred dollars

in 1842 while Greeley and his New York Times were simultaneously declaring Emerson

"the most important and original mind of his generation" (Teichgraeber 202).4 As this

detail demonstrates, however, such points of intersection often constitute points of drastic

personal, political, and critical divergence, and no such point of divergence is more

central to the lives and work of these men than the relationships that they cultivated with

female intellectuals, female audiences, and, ultimately, a natural world that was always

gendered female in the first half of the nineteenth century. Cooper, after all, did indeed

write his first book-to Fiedler's horror-in a deliberate attempt to outwrite a female

British writer, and he consistently oriented his work, without any sense of shame (and

tremendous commercial success), toward a popular audience that included a daunting

number of moderately educated women.5 Beyond the issue of audience, though, Cooper

consistently genders natural space female and does very little to mediate the implications

of sexual crime that attend its destruction, and he consistently values women's responses

to nature. Only his female characters, like The Pathfinder's Mabel Dunham, after all, can









discuss the natural world outside of the language of ownership and domination that even

Natty Bumppo cannot escape, and he found his daughter's volume of nature writing,

Rural Hours, a throughly feminine and therefore highly marketable response to the

natural world.6

Emerson's relationship with women and nearly all things feminine moved in quite

a different direction. As numerous scholars have argued, Emerson conflated femininity

with nature, devalued them both, and deconstructed the legacy of his one-time confidant,

Margaret Fuller, who had offered counter-interpretations of nature, femininity, and

female nature before her early death in 1850.7 Emerson, Stephanie Smith recognizes,

asserts in Nature but believed throughout his lifetime that "'Truth in Art'" is a purely

abstract and therefore masculine production that cannot be produced by a concrete or

material "maternal nature" he understands to be "vital but ultimately 'ancillary to man'"

(69). Emerson's entire philosophical project, in Smith's language, "metaphorized the

material maternal as that which, through the alembic of spirit, would be abolished;" his

"objective"-particularly in Nature-"is to consign matter, which he repeatedly associates

with the past and the natural and hence with the mother, to a discardable memory that

may be overcome through the future-oriented potency of individual mind" (77).

Margaret Fuller, with whom Emerson was incredibly intimate for a time, offered a

thorough counter-narrative to Emerson's hyper-masculine drive toward abstraction and

the devaluation of the feminine-including female nature. As Smith also understands, "for

Fuller, Truth was best figured by the body of a nursing woman;" she "repeatedly

expressed a desire to salvage the material and represent Mother Nature not simply as a

frame for man, nor as blind form waiting to be seen, but as a creative force with a vision









of her own" (69, 70). Despite the fact that Fuller was Emerson's intellectual equal,

Emerson refused to take her arguments seriously-he even claimed that she did not make

sense-and shortly after her death he subjected Fuller's legacy to dual forms of erasure: he

deconstructed her significance privately in his journal and publicly through his deeply

flawed editing of her Memoirs (Berkson 25).8

In an attempt to explain Emerson's fundamental disconnect from Fuller, Lindsey

Traub suggests that "'Woman Thinking'" may simply have been "inconceivable to him"

(288). Emerson's inability to conceive of Fuller, however, is less a case of simple

nineteenth century gender prejudice than it is a studied replication of the approach to the

female that Emerson found in natural science. In 1827, in The Prairie, James Fenimore

Cooper placed natural science in the vanguard of a destructive United States

expansionism; for Emerson, however, the science was a messianic force capable of

wedding the visible to the invisible, and the impact that the science had on him in 1833 at

the Paris Museum d'Histoire Naturelle was so strong that he proclaimed that he would

become a naturalist.

Emerson's interest in natural science has intrigued scholars because it holds a key

to how and why Emerson wrote.9 He wrote as a scientist and he equated his own

organization of thought and language with the organizing and classifying work of natural

scientists. I wish to suggest, however, that natural science bears cultural and ideological

significance to Emerson's body of work outside of its usefulness as a hermeneutic tool.

Natural science was based on an intellectual commitment to classifying and ordering a

female nature, and it was politically inseparable from imperialist enterprise. It offered

Emerson the hyper-masculinist and imperialist philosophical system that would









ultimately manifest itself in Nature as he defines the natural world away from femininity

and destructibility and toward an illimitable, permanent, and perpetually available field

that serves the ideological ends of empire.

The natural science that Emerson encountered at the Museum d'Histoire Naturelle

was, in the words of Lee Rust Brown, "one of the Old World's most complex and capable

means of coming to adequate terms with the outlandishness of the New," which Europe

was uncovering, of course, through exploration and colonization. And the methodology

of natural science consisted of "selecting, eviscerating, and hollowing" out objects

belonging to "visible nature" (the form of nature always gendered female) into abstract

(and therefore masculine and more valuable) "intellectual horizons" (97).

At the Paris Museum that had such a life-shaking impact on Emerson, natural

science had achieved a "severe aesthetic fulfilled in ... sequences of glass-doored

armoires lining the ... galleries and .. .in the subordinated, pagelike surfaces of the

formal gardens" where "all nature yielded itself to the conceptual graphics of outline,

series, and hierarchy" (65). It was a place where feminine nature, including raw

materials and exotic specimens procured from the New World through the actions of

empire, was splayed out, pinned down, stuffed, mapped, and classed; a place where the

staunchly anti-feminine Enlightenment science of those like Francis Bacon found its most

perfect embodiment.10

Emerson admired the Paris Museum because it wedded the physical and the

abstract, but it was also a site of the "aggressive-defensive activity" of empire: it fused

the gender politics of the Enlightenment with European imperialism while helping create

the image of the naturalist that Emerson ultimately became for American literature and









culture-the "bourgeois subject simultaneously innocent and imperial, asserting a

harmless hegemonic vision that instills no apparatus of domination" (Pratt 34).

The Nature of Emerson's Imperialism

Recognizing that Emerson was thoroughly committed, in a sense even "wedded"

to this "innocent and imperial" science, it is less surprising that he ultimately rejects such

an unclassifiable trouser-wearing and intellectual "unwomanly woman" as Margaret

Fuller, just as it is less surprising, to return to Smith's language, that his philosophical

project in Nature and throughout the rest of his career consigns feminine and/or maternal

matter to "a discardable memory" (Berkson 25, Smith 77). Emerson's rejection of the

feminine, which I find to be made possible by his investment in natural science and made

manifest in his treatment of Margaret Fuller, plays a significant role in the thorough

redefinition of nature that he accomplishes in Nature.ll

Numerous scholars have recognized that Emerson, in Nature and in his other

writings, legitimized the development of U. S. industrial capitalism and imperialism

through what Jenine Abboushi Dallal has described as "disembodied discourse" and

"rhetorical circumvention" (50).12 The imperial project of Emerson's Nature, where it

concerns the actual environment itself, though, involves neutralizing the economic,

moral, and gender crises that were already understood to attend environmental

destruction by the early nineteenth century and to therefore facilitate the continuation of

United States expansionism regardless of its real human and environmental costs. In

Nature, which would achieve canonical status as his fame grew throughout the course of

the nineteenth century, Emerson completely reconfigures the meaning of "nature" in a

way that ignores the environmental anxieties that slip into texts as early as Jeremy

Belknap's The History of New Hampshire and Cooper's Leatherstocking series.









Emerson's act of redefinition offers American literature and culture a mode of

circumventing any awareness of, or any sense of guilt over, the destruction of natural

space, and it accomplishes this by totally abandoning the commonplace functional

definition of nature as a physical, terrestrial, and feminine space in favor of a "Nature"

that is a disembodied, abstract, and masculine space composed of essential qualities

locatable anywhere but often in an astronomical realm that is always available and

always located beyond the reach of destructive human agency.

The re-theorization of the natural world that Emerson launches in Nature is, to

some degree, a function of his own personal development and his own prejudices-it

clearly bears the marks of his feelings on gender, for instance-, but it is also a significant

political engagement into the nineteenth century politics of environmental vision.

Emerson's intervention into how nature should be understood amounts to a deliberate

hedge against narratives of environmental scarcity, fragility, and destructibility that were

gaining currency throughout the nineteenth century. He begins his refutation of these

narratives by identifying a way to recover environmental purity and by reasserting claims

of human environmental benignity that were already beginning to appear dubious by the

1830s. In the final paragraph of Nature's introduction, Emerson offers these two

fundamental claims that are couched in a differentiation that he draws between art and

nature: "Nature, in the common sense, refers to essences unchanged by man; space, the

air, the river, the leaf. Art is applied to the mixture of his will with the same things, as in

a house, a canal, a statue, a picture. But his operations taken together are so insignificant,

a little chipping, baking, patching, and washing, that in an impression so grand as of the

world on the human mind, they do not vary the result" (8).









In these three sentences, Emerson establishes a logic of environmental abstraction

that runs throughout the rest of his essay. He recovers a natural world that is not only

"unchanged by man" but absolutely unchangeable because it is no longer defined by its

tactile, physical, or material qualities-the qualities associated with femininity. Nature is

defined, rather, by its abstract and therefore masculine "essences" that endure despite

whatever "chipping, baking, patching, and washing" may be performed on its feminine,

material, and mortal body. Within this frame, the actual health and/or perpetuity of the

feminine material nature is not so important as the endurance of the "impression" or

"essence" that the feminine/material signifier makes on the "human mind." It is a

sweeping set of claims that privileges disembodied, abstract, masculine, and

indestructible essences over the material, feminine, and destroyable body of nature that

locates environmental health in, of all places, the human mind.

With verbs like "chipping, baking, patching, and washing" that largely evoke

female domestic work, Emerson feminizes and dismisses the environmental activity of

what he ordinarily believes to be a masculine culture. The phrase inverts the gender of a

penetrative male American culture so that the culture's environmental interventions can

be cast as thoroughly nonthreatening female work upon a female body. Read against the

rest of Nature, though, the gender inversion that Emerson performs here is simply

disingenuous. Emerson might recognize American masculinity as threatened, but it still

exists, and it needs to continue to exist, in Emerson's formulation, so that American men

can reassert their masculinities by penetrating it-not "washing" or "patching" it.

Men, and particularly men "in the streets of cities," need nature to help them

"believe and adore" a thoroughly masculine Christian God (8, 9). It is "so needful to









man," he continues, that it is a healing "commodity" capable of restoring mind, body,

masculinity and sense of self:

To the body and mind which have been cramped by noxious work or company,
nature is medicinal and restores their tone. The tradesman, the attorney comes out
of the din and craft of the street, and sees the sky and the woods, and is a man
again. In their eternal calm, he finds himself. (13)

In the shorter "Nature" that he included in his 1844 Essays, Second Series,

Emerson makes it even clearer than it is in Nature that this restorative meeting between

men (and, as always, particularly with city men) and nature is an act of penetration, not

"chipping, baking, patching, and washing." In this essay, nature is again explicitly

"medicinal," particularly for men threatened by cities that "give not the human senses

room enough," but regeneration is available "at the gates of the forest" (312, 311). Here,

Emerson writes, the city "man ... is forced to leave his city estimates of great and small,

wise and foolish. The knapsack of custom falls off his back" as he penetrates[] bodily

this incredible beauty" before regaining a state after penetration that is not only

embryonic but parasitic: "we nestle in nature, and draw our living as parasites from her

roots and grains, and we receive glances from the heavenly bodies, which call us to

solitude" (311, 313, 312, emphasis added).

Emerson's theory of nature is at conflict with itself. The gender categories upon

which it is based slip and slide depending upon the argument Emerson needs to make, but

Emerson's argument in Nature faces two critical obstacles outside of its own logic: first,

how can faith in nature's medicinal, curative capabilities be maintained in the face of

growing concerns about its destructibility or exhaustibility, and, secondly, how can an

increasingly urbanized population maintain contact with the type of space that restores its

atrophied masculinity? One half of Emerson's response to this problem is, as I have









already argued, to create an abstract and disembodied idea of nature that evades the

threatened status of material nature. The other side of Emerson's project, however, is to

revise the national environmental gaze by replacing a Cooper-eque gaze that necessarily

encounters tree stumps and threatened species with a metonymic one that locates

environmental health and perpetuity in exceptional specimens and celestial objects that

lie beyond the reach of human activity.

Emerson creates this new method of seeing the natural world in the same

moments that he champions nature's ability to salvage a threatened masculinity. When,

in Nature, Emerson confronts the problem of the man "in the streets of cities," he does

not find it absolutely necessary that the man, with his masculinity collapsing under the

weight of an urban crush, drop his "knapsack" "at the gates of the forest" and regain

himself in "the tempered light of the woods," which is one way that he suggests

masculinity may be regained in his later "Nature" (Nature 8, "Nature" 311). His primary

move, much to the contrary, is to simply elevate his environmental gaze so that he

literally looks over the problems that threaten terrestrial nature-it is a visual move that

mirrors what Dallal has described as "a widening of the lens" that displaces imperialist

"conquest, violence, and death"-and locates the essential qualities of nature in absolutely

indestructible and immaterial astronomical bodies (49).

Throughout Nature, Emerson locates nature in woods, horizons, sunrises and

sunsets, and the sky in general, and he claims that "all natural objects make a kindred

impression, when the mind is open to their influence" (9). Over the course of the essay,

however, stars emerge as especially effective signifiers of nature. Nature and all of its

medicinal qualities may be found, Emerson writes, by simply lookingn] at the stars" (8).









The mere visual presence of stars, according to Emerson, grants solitude; the "rays" that

they emanate "separate between him and vulgar things;" and they offer "the perpetual

presence of the sublime" (8). "If ... stars should appear one night in a thousand years,"

Emerson continues, "how men would believe and adore; and preserve for many

generations the remembrance of the city of God which had been shown!" (8-9). They are

"envoys of beauty" that "light the universe with their admonishing smile" and, perhaps

most important, they "awaken a certain reverence, because though always present, they

are always inaccessible" (9).

By creating an environmental gaze that is fixed on astronomical space, Emerson

finds a way to see everything that he wants to see in nature. This particular gaze presents

a natural world that is uncontainedd," "immortal," "always present," and "always

inaccessible;" entirely beyond the impact of any destructive human agency. With this

environmental gaze, Emerson consolidates the qualities that he associates with the natural

world into "stars," which function in the essay as discrete and ultimate metonyms for all

that his vision of nature encompasses, and he protects this move toward an abstract

metonymic nature by suggesting again that the actual presence and viability of nature's

material phenomena are not so important as the disembodied "impression" of presence

and viability that they offer the human mind. In the rhetoric of current critical discourse,

Emerson creates a situation in which the continued existence of a signifier of natural

health and perpetuity is dispensable so long as the signification of natural health and

perpetuity endures.









The Consequences and Endurance of Emersonian Nature

The process of abstraction that Emerson carries out in these passages-with its

consolidation of meaning and its transformation of the physical and feminine into the

masculine and symbolic-is one that leads, as Henri Lefebvre has theorized, to the

absolute erasure of the natural world. Emerson's involvement in this process, moreover,

is critically important to the formation of the spatial experience and practice of nature in

the United States for two interconnected reasons: the peculiar power of narrative to shape

spatial experience and practice, and the immediate and enduring influence of Emerson in

numerous fields including literary and cultural production. Considering the sustained

cultural and institutional power that Emerson has been granted throughout the past 150

years, his theory of abstract natural space has been central to the development of a largely

unconscious national politics of environmental evasion that developed with particular

intensity throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

In The Production of Space, Henri Lefebvre writes that "everyone wants to

protect and save nature; nobody wants to stand in the way of an attempt to retrieve its

authenticity. Yet at the same time everything conspires to harm it. The fact is that

natural space will soon be lost to view. nature is resistant, and infinite in its depth, but

it has been defeated, and now waits only for its ultimate voidance and destruction" (30-

31). Lefebvre blames this situation on "capitalism and neocapitalism," but he does not

attribute the destruction of natural space to the march of technological industrialism (53).

The exploitative power of capitalism resides, rather, in processes of abstraction-like

Emerson's-that Lefebvre believes to begin with the transformation of natural space into

systems of signs and symbols.









For Lefebvre, abstract space does not occur outside of state or otherwise

institutional power; "As a product of violence and war," he writes, abstract space "is

political; instituted by a state, it is institutional," and it is created, in large part, through

the deployment of institutionally sanctioned signs and symbols (285). Just as "there is a

violence intrinsic to abstraction, and to abstraction's practical (social) use," moreover,

signs and symbols "have something lethal about them" (288). "Any space infused with

value by a symbol," Lefebvre remarks, is also a reduced-and homogenized-space"-it is

removed from the realms of physicality and history as it is rendered abstract (289).

Emerson immediately reduces and homogenizes space at the opening of Nature

when he invokes community knowledge to claim that "Nature, in the common sense,

refers to essences unchanged by man" (8). Such a claim denies the fact that "nature" was

a site of contention in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, and it neutralizes

the voices of those like James Fenimore Cooper who might have replied that a definition

of nature based on a claim of environmental purity was already deeply flawed.

Emerson's most important and most lasting act of environmental violence, though, lies in

the symbol-making project that he follows throughout the essay. When Emerson argues

that an essential nature-the type of nature that he really values-can be found at any time

and at any place by looking toward the heavens, he removes the power of signification

from earthly natural space and thoroughly reduces its value. Through Emerson's process

of environmental abstraction, terrestrial, material, and feminine natural space undergoes

the very voidancee" that Lefebvre suggests-it becomes fundamentally emptied of

meaning and value as it is emptied of the "essences" that Emerson privileges. As Donald

Pease recognizes, Emerson's process of symbolization empties "objective Nature" of all









meaning and brings it "to an end" so that any appreciation of nature's beauty requires "a

taste for the beauty of the morbid" (53, 52).

As helpful as I believe his work is in uncovering the method and results of

Emerson's abstraction of natural space, Lefebvre cannot explain the special importance

of Emerson's role in shaping spatial practice in the United States, which I believe lies at

the nexus of narrative's unique spatial agency and Emerson's celebrity status. Although

Lefebvre seems to imply it (particularly when he discusses the destructive power of signs

and symbols), he does not spell out, as Michel de Certeau does in The Practice of

Everyday Life, that narratives are a particularly powerful agent in the formation and

modification of spatial practices. As he works to differentiate between "place," which he

defines as a static "configuration" of subjects and objects, and "space," which he defines

as a the dynamic intersection of "mobile elements," de Certeau argues that narratives

perform a function "that constantly transforms places into spaces or spaces into places"

(117, 118). Narratives, according to de Certeau, are "'culturally creative act[s] that

"found" spaces just as they register "the loss of space" "where stories are disappearing"

(123).13

In surprising fashion, the act of spatial abstraction that Emerson carries out in

Nature inverts and darkens de Certeau's claims. Emerson's culturally creative act founds

an abstract space that philosophically effaces-and justifies the actual destruction of-a

physically defined space upon which (as Lefebvre recognizes) cultures themselves are

constructed. This narrative of spatial abstraction possesses a measure of inherent spatial

agency, but this agency is tremendously amplified by the enormity of Emerson's

celebrity, which is so powerful and so carefully guarded that it approximates the type of









institutional or state power that Lefebvre associates with all processes of spatial

abstraction. Emerson cultivated his own celebrity during his lifetime, by the time of his

death he had become an icon of American-ness, and in the twentieth century his influence

infiltrated fields as diverse as American politics, economics, architecture, and music as

his literary-critical reputation underwent successive renewals that prevented him from

ever slipping into a period of Melvillian obscurity.14

Whenever Emerson has come under critical assault, his centrality to American

culture has remained unquestionable. Whether his influence is regarded as positive or

negative, it is impossible, it seems, to step outside of a series of assumptions that Harold

Bloom reaffirms in his often reprinted "Mr. America":

Emerson is the mind of our climate, the principal source of the American
difference in poetry, criticism and pragmatic post-philosophy. Emerson, by no
means the greatest American writer ... is the inescapable theorist of all
subsequent American writing. From his moment to ours, American authors either
are in his tradition, or else in a counter-tradition originating in opposition to him.
(section I, emphasis added).

Bloom's comments leave no room for a plurality of American mind, experience, or

expression, but-and this is a discomfiting fact-even critics who work against the grain of

affirmative Emersonian criticism accept a similar vision of Emerson's cultural centrality.

In an age that aims to question hegemony, this appears to be one of the most undebatable

phenomenon in American literary and cultural history. The only remaining line of

inquiry for Emerson criticism is whether this representative American is to be regarded as

the source of cultural success or cultural failure; whether the consequences of his

influence are a radical form of selfhood and a tradition of literary exceptionality that

flows through Thoreau and Whitman, or a logic of colonialism, imperialism, and









environmental destruction that has produced war, the subjugation of numerous subaltern

populations, and the erasure of natural space on a global scale.

Harold Bloom's 1982 defense of Emerson is a direct and acknowledged response

to the claim of Bartlett Giamatti, in hisl981 Yale baccalaureate address, that "it is

Emerson who freed our politics and our politicians from any sense of restraint by

extolling self-generated, unaffiliated power as the best foot to place in the small of the

back of the man in front of you" (101). In less direct ways, Bloom's essay also rejects

Donald Pease's 1980 "Emerson, Nature, and the Sovereignty of Influence," which

introduced Emerson to deconstructive theory. Although he never names him in the

essay, Pease's deconstructive method is precisely what Bloom attacks when he jeers at

"the European modes [of interpretation] currently touching their nadir in a younger

rabblement celebrating itself as having repudiated the very idea of an individual reader or

an individual critic," and the "'Marxist literary groups'" and "'Lacanian theory circles"

that he believes to have generated such cockeyed criticism ("Mr. America" section III).

This debate between Bloom, Giamatti, and Pease has been kept alive throughout

the 1980s and 1990s in a series of essay collections that sharply defend the institution of

positive Emersonianism. Since Bloom's initial reaffirmation of Emerson's cultural

centrality, Bloom himself, Lawrence Buell, and Joel Porte and Saundra Morris have

published collections of Emerson criticism that maintain his positive institutional status

against what they clearly understand to be the rising threat of revisionist scholarship in

the vein of Giamatti and Pease.15 Bloom's "Mr. America" has been republished three

times under the title "Emerson: Power at the Crossing"-in a collection of his own essays,

in the collection of Emerson criticism that he collected, and in Buell's collection of









Emerson scholarship-and where it is not reprinted Porte and Morris repackage his

defense in their own words. Although Giamatti's essay is mentioned in Bloom's

response and in Porte and Morris's introduction, neither it nor Pease's essay, nor any of

the later criticism that has carried their project forward is included in any of these

collections-even in their (highly) selective bibliographies of Emerson scholarship.

Responses to such re-interpretive work range, in these collections, from silent omission in

Buell's volume (where only Bloom's reprinted essay performs any critique of the course

of Emerson scholarship) to an outright assault from Porte, whose editorial introduction

undercuts postcolonial interpretations of Emerson's legacy without ever even speaking

the names of the scholars who have posed these arguments.16

Despite such strong commitments to preserving his status as a positive cultural

icon, the body of Emerson's work and the uses to which it has been put contain a

powerful, if often painful and nearly unspeakable dark side that legitimizes, to return to

Lefebvre's language, multiple forms of "violence and war." Emerson's abstraction of

natural space, without doubt, is an essential part of this dark heritage. It fulfilled the

desires of the merchant class audiences that Emerson encountered on his speaking tours

in the nineteenth century, and, as I will discuss in later chapters of LookingAway, it met

the needs of a twentieth century American culture that had to cope with the constant

erasure of natural spaces that it relied upon for claims of national exceptionality, for the

expression of an autonomous selfhood, and for the construction and maintenance of

masculinity.17 As natural space consistently fell under the thrall of twentieth century

progress, Emersonian abstraction offered a way of maintaining nature's transcendental

availability and permanence just as Emerson's elevated and metonymic environmental









gaze offered convenient and established methods of looking away from unsettling

terrestrial situations.

Thoreau and the Continuation of Emerson's Abstract Spatial Imperialism

While I obviously believe that Emerson's abstract, astronomically oriented

environmental vision is the one that was adopted by mainstream American culture until

the environmental awakening of the late twentieth century, other critics have ignored or

devalued Emerson to promote Thoreau as the real locus of significant nineteenth-century

environmental thought. 18 For scholars like Max Oelschlaeger in The Idea of

Wilderness and Lawrence Buell in The Environmental Imagination, who are both

interested in tracing the roots of environmentalist and ecological thought, Thoreau is an

environmental hero because his writing is less anthropocentric than Emersons, because he

is more interested in strict environmental observation than Emerson, and because his

emphasis on environmental wholeness is more well defined than Emerson's. In a move

that illustrates the new hegeomony of ecocritical praise that has sprung up around

Thoreau, Oelschlaeger literally proclaim's Thoreau's environmental sainthood in

"Environment and the 21st Century: A Thoreauvian Interlude" that proclaims Thoreau

"St. Henry" (13).19

Despite such rhetorical excesses, critical work in the mode of Buell and

Oelschlaeger has performed the necessary tasks of expanding the history of

environmentalism and connecting it with literary history. Still, however, it has largely

ignored the uglier and more embarrassing aspects of Thoreau's treatment of the natural

world. Even while scholars like Andrew McMurry and James McKusick have worked

against the grain to reinstate Emerson as the central figure of environmental thought in

American literature, only Ira Brooker, Paul Giles, and Karl Kroeber have extended any









sort of postcolonialist critique into Thoreau's work or suggested that the entire

Emersonian-Thoreauvian tradition of environmental writing overwrites or obscures

alternative traditions. Writing against the cult of"St. Henry," Brooker suggests that

Thoreau imperializes Walden pond by converting it into an intellectual commodity that

he sold to the masses as a wilderness lifestyle and sensibility, while Giles recognizes such

patterns of intellectual commodification as part of an overarching tendency in Thoreau's

writing to "to sublimate historical and political conflicts into a narrative conflating nation

with nature" that, when Thoreau's attention turns to the natural world, amounts to a

continuation of Emerson's imperialist environmental vision (Giles 69). To Brooker and

Giles, Kroeber adds that the Thoreau's institutional power obscures an "un-Thoreauvian

tradition of nature writing," made up of authors like William Bartram, Susan Fenimore

Cooper, Aldo Leopold, and Rachel Carson, that is "more scientifically oriented, more

scientific in mode, and more focused on long-term, noncyclic natural changes" (313).

In Walden, upon which his sainthood has been constructed more than any other

text, Thoreau, like Emerson, finds natural space absolutely critical to the maintenance of

masculinity, but he cannot maintain his faith in nature's regenerative capacity-as

Emerson does-by merely restricting his environmental gaze. Thoreau, rather, keeps the

faith alive by adopting an imperialist perspective of global environmental availability. In

Walden, which in one sense is all about his own personal need to experience the natural

world, Thoreau argues that

our village life would stagnate if it were not for the unexplored forests and
meadows which surround it. We need the tonic of wilderness ... we require that
all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be infinitely wild ...
we must be refreshed by the sight of inexhaustible vigor, vast and titanic features .
of Nature. (298)









Almost everything that Thoreau identifies as fundamentally important in this

passage-"unexplored forests and meadows," even "wilderness" itself-is either an object

of Euro-American fantasy or, by the middle of the nineteenth century, deeply threatened.

His own simulacral wilderness at Walden Pond, after all, bore the scars of settlement. To

keep the revitalizing presence of wilderness alive, however, Thoreau poses two divergent

arguments: locate wilderness in the self, and find wilderness in the corners of the globe

where it has not been entirely effaced. In Walden, Thoreau argues that the Emersonian

inquest is the best method of experiencing wilderness in an age of environmental

destruction. In typically epigrammatic fashion, Thoreau writes, "One hastens to southern

Africa to chase the giraffe; but surely that is not the game he would be after. How long,

pray, would a man hunt giraffes if he could? Snipes and woodcocks also may afford rare

sport; but I trust it would be nobler game to shoot one's self' (300). As he advocates this

turn into the self, however, Thoreau calls upon the language of imperialism. "Be rather

the Mungo Park, the Lewis and Clark and Frobisher, of your own streams and oceans;

explore your own higher latitudes," he commands, "be a Columbus to whole new

continents and worlds within you, opening new channels, not of trade, but of thought"

(300-01).

Despite all the emphasis that Thoreau places upon exploring interior wildernesses,

his entire discussion is rife with exotic locations (Tierra del Fuego, Africa, China, Japan)

and the explorers, like Mungo Park, who "opened" them to the West. At the very least,

the presence of these places and explorers underscores the fact that imperialism was a

very real force in Thoreau's world. In Walden imperialism offers a secondary but still

powerful avenue of nature experience that is entirely different from the inquest that









Thoreau simultaneously promotes. Explorers and exploration usually appear in Walden

as metaphors for this inquest, but Thoreau confesses that actual colonialist adventuring is

a real and viable way to come into contact with a curative nature. "It is not worth the

while to go round the world to count the cats in Zanzibar," he writes, "Yet do this even till

you can do better, and you may perhaps find some 'Symmes' Hole' by which to get at the

inside at last" (302 emphasis added).

On his way to discussing exotic manifestations of wilderness in Walden's

"Conclusion," Thoreau mentions the wilds of Canada, Ohio, Colorado, and the

Yellowstone, but the trajectory of his narrative moves without hesitation toward Tierra

del Fuego and the other extra-continental locations that offer purer wildernesses.

Walden itself does not explain why Thoreau would overshoot the American West as he

maps the globe's wildest regions, but eight years later, in "Walking" (1862), Thoreau

hints that he has consigned natural space in North America to obliteration. In almost the

same breath, he touts wildness, wilderness, and fertile soil as the primary sources of

national power, he praises more explorers, and he glorifies the regions they have

penetrated, and he unequivocally endorses the logic of imperialism.

Thoreau never explicitly discusses the fate of nature on a national or continental

scale, but his comments upon New England land use contain a sense of environmental

anxiety that is as representative and expansive as it is particular. He writes, for instance,

that

A hundred years ago they sold bark in our streets peeled from our own woods. In
the very aspect of those primitive and rugged trees there was, methinks, a tanning
principle which hardened and consolidated the fibres of men's thoughts. Ah!
Already I shudder for these comparably degenerate days of my native village,
when you cannot collect a load of bark of good thickness, and we no longer
produce tar and turpentine. (648)










In typical fashion, Thoreau associates environmental health with intellectual health, but

his concern with the state of the New England mind should not obscure the fact that he

clearly understands the natural environment of New England as degenerated[d" in its

own right.

The state of environmental degeneration, though, is not the whole story for

Thoreau. It is equally disturbing for him, I believe, that the entire situation is taken as a

matter of course. When he returns to the topic of ecological degeneration later in the

essay, he writes that "We are accustomed to say in New England that few and fewer

pigeons visit us every year. Our forests furnish no mast for them .... and there is

scarcely a twig left for them to perch on" (660-61). In my reading at least, the most

compelling element of this passage is its opening, which centers the entire anecdote

around the community's response to the disappearance of the pigeons. The objective of

the passage, it seems, is not to simply relate an ecological fact but to register the

community's apathy. The disappearance of the pigeons is merely a custom that has

woven itself into the fabric of the community, and the way that Thoreau treats this

communal indifference suggests that he understands this attitude as the problem facing

nature in North America. It is this combination of environmental destruction and

communal apathy, I believe, that causes Thoreau to concede the ultimate destruction of

wild nature in North America.

Even though Thoreau seems to acquiesce to the destruction of North American

nature, he does not so easily abandon the project of American empire that he understands

to depend upon close contact between nation and nature. In "Walking," all of Thoreau's

examples of national strength simultaneously signify imperial strength-"Greece, Rome,









England"-, and he argues that all such enduring empires "have been sustained by the

primitive forests which anciently rotted where they stand. They survive as long as the

soil is not exhausted" (648). Thoreau is suggesting, of course, that national and imperial

strength are constructed with very real natural resources, but he also believes that state

power depends upon a "wild source" of a vitality that resides in the nation's soil and

forests (644).

With this combined awareness of a compromised North American natural

environment and his sense that nations derive their strength from contact with wild

nature, Thoreau faces a critical problem: if the destructive and apathetic culture of the

United States destroys the vitality of it's environment, how will the nation maintain its

strength? As he does in Walden, Thoreau offers two alternatives: inquest or imperialism.

In the case of "Walking," the inquest involves finding wilderness where you are. For

Thoreau in Walden and "Walking," every swamp, bog, and patch of woods, in the right

frame of mind, can become a revitalizing wilderness. Life itself, he argues, can be

viewed as a "wildness" that "refreshes" ("Walking" 646). "One who pressed forward

incessantly and never rested from his labors, who grew fast and made infinite demands

on life," he writes, "would always find himself in a new country or wilderness, and

surrounded by the raw material of life" (646).

Amid such transcendental arguments, though, lurk subaltern figures and newly

colonized regions that offer the promise of contact with real, rather than imagined, wild

nature-regions and figures, incidentally, that play no part at all in any of the traditional

discussions of Thoreau's work. They raise questions with ugly answers, but they are

there in the text nonetheless: Thoreau mentions "the Hottentots" and "our Northern









Indians," as well as the archetypal figures of "the African" and "a Tahitian" (644-45).

Just as "One who pressed forward incessantly and never rested from his labors," might

generate his own regenerative wildness, it seems that in Thoreau's vision one could just

as easily find fulfilment (and probably better fulfillment at that) by following the path of

"the African hunter Cummings," whose clothes even bear the odor of close contact with a

revivifying wilderness (646, 644).

Every explorer, exotic location, or subjugated population that Thoreau mentions

can be dismissed as a metaphor for introspective searching, but these places and figures

exist in his work alongside a tacit acceptance of a particularly American colonialist logic

that makes any such dismissal much more difficult. In a statement that legitimizes, if it

does not endorse, the imperialist quest for contact with soil and wilderness, he writes that

"It is said to be the task of the American 'to work the virgin soil,' and that 'agriculture

here already assumes proportions unknown everywhere else.' I think that the farmer

displaces the Indian even because he redeems the meadow, and so makes himself

stronger and in some respects more natural' (648, emphasis added). It can be argued in

his defense that Thoreau promotes non-imperialist methods as the first and best ways to

maintain contact with wild nature (however it is construed), but his allusion to the

displacement of Native Americans unequivocally endorses the logic of imperialism that

stalks Walden and "Walking" in the specters of Cummings, Park, Africa, and Tahiti.



For all of the attention they grant the natural world, for all of their perceptions of

ecological wholeness, and for all of their efforts to reconcile the Cartesian binary of the

human and the natural, the environmental legacy of Emerson and Thoreau contains an









undeniable dark underside that works against the very forms of space that they each seem

to privilege. Their abstraction and dislocation of natural space offered philosophical and

artistic legitimacy to the environmentally destructive practices of American culture at

large just as they established precedents of environmental evasion that would shape the

twentieth century literary response to environmental degradation. As I will argue in the

rest of this project, the institutionalization of Emersonian environmental imperialism

obscured less destructive methods of nineteenth and twentieth century literary

environmental engagement. It devalued Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's

environmentally determined vision of United States national literature, it offered

institutionally endorsed patterns of looking away from environmental destruction that

would help authors like Willa Cather, John Steinbeck, and Ernest Hemingway maintain

faith in a completely viable natural world well into the twentieth century, and it silently

disqualified the narratives of environmental enmeshment offered by African American

writers like Zora Neale Hurston and Jean Toomer from the categories of both "literature"

and "nature writing."

Notes


1 It may seem strange, considering the institutional impact of American
Renaissance, that at this juncture I am granting more attention to Santayana and Brooks
than I am to Matthiessen, but these two earlier scholars did indeed establish foundational
arguments of Emerson's centrality to American literature well before Matthiessen's
landmark text-and Matthiessen directly acknowledges Brooks's influence while alluding
to Santayana several times throughout American Renaissance. If anything, when
Matthiessen also writes in American Renaissance that "Emerson's theory of expression
was that on which Thoreau built, to which Whitman gave extension, and to which
Hawthorne and Melville were indebted by being forced to react against its philosophical
assumptions," he institutionalizes a critical opinion that had already been in circulation
since the turn of the century (xii).
2 Terms like "virgin nature" and "mother nature" are so prevalent in both casual
and academic discourse that they can seem banal and/or meaningless. Louise Westling,










though, offers a concise history of the gendering of nature in The Green Breast of the
New World: Landscape, Gender, and American Fiction that reinforces just how long
North American nature has been understood as a virginal or maternal force rather than an
antagonistic demonic power. Westling identifies two divergent "views of the feminine in
European culture" that she defines as "that of the pure virginal or maternal source of life
and comfort, and that of the demonic witch," but she argues-for the very reason that I
have left it out of my list of gendered appelations-that beyond the Puritan era American
culture is worried very little by notions of howling wilderness or figurations of nature as
"demonic witch" (36). She argues later that the any sort of demonic female wilderness
would have been rather remote to Emerson in New England where by the early
nineteenth century, "deforestation was almost complete, and the ... Indians were
equally devastated, reduced to small bands of ragged paupers by European disease,
colonial appropriation of land and natural resources, and ecological transformation that
made traditional subsistence impossible" (45)

3 While I think that Nature is Emerson's most significant discussion of the natural
world because of its role in the establishment of his early reputation and because of its
continued status as one of his most widely read, most influential texts, Emerson's other
writings-particularly "Circles" (published in the 1841 Essays: First Series), "Nature," (a
shorter treatise published in the 1844 Essays: Second Series), "The Method of Nature"
(an 1841 address to Colby College) and some of his often neglected poetry-did engage
the natural world in drastically different ways. In these essays, Emerson's tone is
drastically different. He is no longer the all seeing, all knowing "part and parcel of God"
that he is in Nature, and he tends to find the natural world much more of a mystery than
an open book. In "Nature," "Circles," and "The Method of Nature," Emerson believes
the natural world to be controlled by divine design but nonetheless finds it dynamic and
ultimately unknowable-in "The Method of Nature" in particular he suggests that the
natural environment is an unobservable stream of perpetual motion (124-25). In poems
like "Hamatreya," "Earth-Song," "Woodnotes I," and "Woodnotes II," he presents a
vision of the natural world that is very similar to Longfellow's environmental vision and
frequently slips into a form of environmental apocalypticism that anticipates Robinson
Jeffers's lyrics about the continued existence of the natural world after the demise of the
human species. As diverse and compelling as these pieces show Emerson's philosophy
of nature to be, however, I simply do not believe that they represent, as Nature does, the
institutionalized Emerson, which is the Emerson that most interests me.

4 Cooper's libel suits have received little critical attention, and his suit against
Greeley usually receives nothing more than a passing mention. Considering the power
and celebrity that Greeley enjoyed from the mid-to-late nineteenth century, I think that
the vastly different relationships that he had with Cooper and Emerson, which I believe
are embodied in these otherwise rather esoteric details, illuminates just how early their
critical trajectories were beginning to diverge and just how public this divergence was.
By the 1840s, as Teichgraeber argues, Emerson was already achieving the status of an
icon in American popular culture despite the fact that his works were not printed in large
numbers or widely distributed. Teichgraeber differs from earlier critics, like Mary
Kupiec Cayton, by arguing that Emerson's lecturing was not as important to his rapid










success as his particular knack for networking among powerful literary and journalistic
editors like Greeley. "Before 1845 at least," Teichbraeber writes, "it was Greeley who
served as the single most important source of popular knowledge of Emerson's name and
ideas;" although he was "in no position to dictate any sort of national consensus
regarding Emerson, he did gain and hold institutional power that he used to provide what
at that time was arguably a more important service: the continuing publicity needed to
make and keep Emerson's name and writings visible in American culture at large" (211).
While Emerson was earning a national reputation, Cooper was rapidly alienating
his own audience. Beginning in 1837 he was embroiled in a host of libel suits that all
stemmed from the Three Mile Point controversy in Cooperstown (in which Cooper
forbade public use of a popular tract of land that he owned). Cooper filed his first libel
suit in 1837; the final case was settled in 1843, one year before he took another deeply
unpopular stance by defending the landholders in the 1844 New York State anti-rent
agitation. During the years that Cooper was defending himself against a libelous press,
that same press was deeply supportive of Emerson.

5 In Early Cooper and His Audience, James D. Wallace writes that "by the time he
published The Pilot in 1823, Cooper was ready to abandon women readers altogether,"
but he also explains that Cooper feared the possibility of a negative responses from large
female audiences. Considering his willingness to engage in "women's writing," his
recognition of the power of a female reading public, his savvy negotiation of the tenuous
early nineteenth-century American publishing market, and the difference between his
sometimes ambivalent orientation toward female audiences and the wholly reactionary
responses of those like Hawthorne and Melville, Cooper's approach seems relatively
progressive and open-minded. The discussion of the power of female audiences in the
nineteenth-century United States that William Charvat offers in The Profession of
Authorship in America, 1800-1870 articulates several facts about nineteenth century
female audiences that have come to be taken for granted in much more contemporary
literary scholarship. See, in particular, the discussion of Longfellow's orientation toward
female audiences in chapter eight and the more general discussion of female readers in
chapter fifteen.
6 The primary sources for insight into how James Fenimore Cooper understood
Susan Fenimore Cooper's Rural Hours are his letters to George Putnam, the initial
publisher of Rural Hours, which are included in The Letters and Journals of James
Fenimore Cooper. Several scholars, however, have recently offered insightful readings
of the relationships between Susan Fenimore Cooper and her father and her relationships
with other prominent writers of the period. See, for instance, Rochelle Johnson's
introduction to the 1998 University of Georgia Press edition of Rural Hours (which
excerpts many of the letters that James Fenimore Cooper exchanged with Putnam) as
well as her "Walden, Rural Hours, and the Dilemma of Representation" and Vera
Norwood's chapter on Susan Fenimore Cooper in Made from this Earth: American
Women and Nature.

7 See, for instance, Stephanie Smith's Conceived by Liberty: Maternal Figures and
i,\ieeiii/h-Century American Literature, Louise Westling's The Green Breast of the










New World: Landscape, Gender, and American Fiction, Dorothy Berkson's "'Born and
Bred in Different Nations': Margaret Fuller and Ralph Waldo Emerson," and Lindsey
Traub's "Woman Thinking: Margaret Fuller, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and the American
Scholar."
8 For two of the most recent discussions of the Emerson-Fuller relationship, see
Traub and Berkson. Berkson pays particular attention to the facts that Fuller saw herself
as Emerson's intellectual equal, that Emerson embarked on a mission of character and
legacy assassination after Fuller's death that culminated in his disastrous editing of
Fuller's Memoirs after he death. It is through Emerson's management of the Memoirs
project, Berkson argues, that many of the myths about Fuller ever gained momentum:
that she was "a physically ugly, overwhelming, and egotistical woman" and that her
attraction to Emerson was romantic (24).

9 Laura Dassow Walls, with Emerson's Life in Science: The Culture of Truth, and
Lee Rust Brown, with The Emerson Museum: Practical Romanticism and the Pursuit of
the Whole, have published the two most recent book-length studies of Emerson and his
involvement with natural science, but they write in a long tradition of scholarship on the
subject. For earlier interpretations of Emerson's engagement with science, see Leon
Chai's The Romantic Foundations of the American Renaissance, H. H. Clark's "Emerson
and Science," Elizabeth A. Dant's "Composing the World: Emerson and the Cabinet of
Natural History," Harold Fromm's "Overcoming the Oversoul: Emerson's Evolutionary
Existentialism," B. L. Packer's Emerson's Fall: A New Interpretation of the Major
Essays, David Robinson's "Emerson's Natural Theology and the Paris Naturalists:
Towards a Theory of Animated Nature,"and Carl F. Strauch's "Emerson's Sacred
Science."
10 I am obviously following the critique of the Enlightenment that has been carried
out by scholars in fields ranging from the history of science, to environmental philosophy
and literary studies. The scholars who have most directly impacted my brief
interpretation of the European Enlightenment are feminist historians of science like
Carolyn Merchant and Donna Haraway, environmentally oriented philosophers and like
Max Oelschlaeger, Fritjof Capra George Sessions, Arne Naess, and environmentally
oriented feminist literary scholars like Louise Westling. See, for instance, Merchant's
The Death ofNature, Haraway's Modest Witness
@Second Millennium.FemaleManC Meets Oncomouse Tm Oelschlaeger's The Idea of
Wilderness, the essays of Capra, Sessions, and Naess that are collected in Sessions's
Deep Ecology for the 21st Century, and Westling's The Green Breast of the New World.

11 Although the rest of this chapter is going to discuss the imperialist work of Nature
(which continues a feminist critique in another form), it is worth noting before this shift
that Louise Westling has recognized Nature as the most pure embodiment of the
ambivalence Emerson holds toward women. In her own words,"The most profound
anxiety revealed in Nature is fear of the feminine, with a corresponding need to ensure
the subjective distance from it that defines male control. That Nature is feminine is a
cultural given, as we have seen. It is everywhere apparent in the essay, from the










consistent use of feminine pronouns to explicit personification of Nature and feminine
clothing metaphors. The problem for Emerson's persona is an infantile yearning for
passive bliss in a maternal embrace. This 'effiminacy' must be fought and overcome by
manly assertions of will" (41).
12 Two distinct families of criticism have posed these arguments about Emerson's
quiet justification of American industrial capitalism and imperialism. For discussions of
Emerson's legitimization of American industrial economics, see Maurice Gonnaud's An
Uneasy Solitude: Individual and Society in the Work of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Len
Gougeon's Virtue's Hero: Emerson, Antislavery, and Reform, Howard Horwitz's By Law
ofNature: Form and Value in ,ineiceinl-Century America, Barbara Packer's "The
Transcendentalists," Carolyn Porter's Seeing and Being: The Plight of the Participant
Observer in Emerson, James, Adams, and Faulkner, and John Carlos Rowe's At
Emerson's Tomb: The Politics of Classic American Literature. For discussions of
Emerson's imperialism, see Eric Cheyfitz's The Poetics ofImperialism: Translation and
Colonization from The Tempest to Tarzan and "A Common Emerson: Ralph Waldo
Emerson in an Ethnohistorical Context," Jenine Abboushi Dallal's "American
Imperialism UnManifest: Emerson's 'Inquest' and Cultural Regeneration," Paul Giles's
"Transnationalism and Classic American Literature," and Brady Harrison's "The Young
Americans: Emerson, Walker, and the Early Literature of American Empire."
13 Throughout this paragraph I modify the language that Steven Rendall uses in his
translation of The Practice ofEveryday Life. De Certeau, via Rendall, most often uses
the word "stories" in his discussion of the creation and modification of spatial practices,
and in some places he discusses a particular type of story-the story of spatial mapping
that is centered around the navigation of a particular space (to use my own examples
rather than de Certeau's, be this space urban in the guise of J. Alfred Prufrock's
experience in London or rural in the fashion of Tess Durbeyfield's navigation of Thomas
Hardy's rural Wessex in Tess of the D 'Urbervilles). I find, however, that de Certeau
oscillates freely between the specific genre of spatial mapping and stories in general, and
that he often invokes "story" with such generality that it would not take him out of
context to substitute "narrative" for "story" as I do in this paragraph. As I hope is
apparent by this point in my argument, I find that Emerson's work-which is, of course,
much more easily classified as "narrative" rather than "story,"-an exceptional narrative
intervention into spatial practice that should not be kept from de Certeau's theoretical
concerns on the basis of generic classifications that are slippery even in de Certeau's own
text.
14 My understanding of Emerson's critical heritage owes much to Sarah Ann
Wider's The Critical Reception of Emerson: Unsettling all Things, Charles E. Mitchell's
Individualism and Its Discontents: Appropriations of Emerson, 1880-1950, both of which
recount the history of Emerson's reception since the late nineteenth century, and Mary
Kupiec Cayton's "The Making of an American Prophet: Emerson, His Audiences, and
the Rise of the Culture Industry in Nineteenth-Century America," which describes the
production of Emerson's popularity during his own lifetime.










15 Bloom's collection is entitled Ralph Waldo Emerson (1985) and "Mr. America"
appears as its untitled introduction; Buell's collection is entitled Ralph Waldo Emerson:
A Collection of Critical Essays (1993) and "Mr. America" appears as "Emerson: Power at
the Crossing;" and Porte and Morris's collection is The Cambridge Companion to Ralph
Waldo Emerson (1999) and the spirit of "Mr. America" is kept alive-recast, in fact, to
meet new challenges to Emerson's positive heritage-in the volume's preface and
introduction. I mention these collections of essays with some hesitation. They present
nothing new or groundbreaking, after all, but as texts intended for the use of Emerson
initiates they seem an exceptional site for the construction-or maintenance-of Emerson's
status as a positive icon of American literature and culture.

16 In response to postcolonialist interpretations of Emerson's work, Porte writes that
"Emerson would have nothing to do with an American civilization, so-called, willing to
cover its crimes with cries of manifest destiny and America first. [he] was a severe
critic of an America capable of invading Mexico, oppressing blacks, and denying women
equal rights" (11). Although he never explicitly reveals the source of his anxiety, Porte is
probably responding to Eric Cheyfitz's The Poetics oflmperialism: Translation and
Colonization from The Tempest to Tarzan, (1991), which introduces the thesis about
Emerson's imperialism that Cheyfitz develops more fully in "A Common Emerson:
Ralph Waldo Emerson in an Ethnohistorical Context" and sets the stage for the more
recent arguments posed by Brady Harrison and Jenine Abboushi Dallal.
17 Cayton's "The Making of an American Prophet" discusses the relationship that
Emerson developed with the merchant class audiences that funded, publicized, and
attended his lectures after the waning of the initial New England lyceum movement.
Cayton draws a crucial distinction between the initial lyceum movement, which was
"begun by John Holbrook in 1929 to promote dissemination of useful information,
discussion, and debate" and the "Young Men's Associations" that began to supercede the
lyceums by 1840 (83). The Young Mens's Associations were different from the lyceums
in several ways: they were more deliberately intended to "inculcate certain moral values,"
they were "intimately linked to city boosters and businesspeople" in ways that lyceums
were not, and their reliance upon traveling lecturers cultivated a culture of celebrity (86).
One of Cayton's central theses is that Emerson's later audiences, which cared less about
the actual substance of Emerson's speeches than they did about experiencing a bonafide
celebrity, had already begun to excise the cultural criticism from Emerson's lectures to
hear only the parts that seemed to support or legitimize their commercial desires.
18 As the rest of Looking Away will demonstrate, I believe that Emerson's
environmental vision bears an incredibly strong influence on the ways that American
authors engaged environmental crisis well into the twentieth century, and much of this
influence is the direct result of the tremendous commercial and critical success that
launched Emerson into public consciousness very early in his career-a level of
commercial and critical success, that is, that Thoreau never achieved. In the
comprehensive and incisive history of Thoreau's reception that he offers in The
Environmental Imagination, Buell suggests that Thoreau's current stature is the result of
long-term and determined marketing first by Ticknor and Fields and then by Houghton,










Mifflin (who also published John Muir's books). Buell argues that Thoreau, despite his
association with (and the publicity he garnered from) the vastly more famous Emerson,
had no real widespread popularity until around the turn of the twentieth century after
repeated marketing efforts by his publishers. Ticknor and Fields/Houghton, Mifflin
slipped Thoreau's name into introductions to other and newer books, like those of John
Burroughs and Charles Dudley Warner in efforts to promote Thoreau as the chief
influence of these writers. Despite such efforts, however, the real breakthrough was the
appearance of Thoreau in anthologies designed for classroom use that extracted
"comparatively descriptive and scientific, nonmystical, and non-pugnacious essays"
(346). The irony of this is that the publication industry essentially turned Thoreau into a
Fireside/Schoolhouse figure in efforts to sell his books. Later, of course, he came to
supercede Whittier, Longfellow, Holmes, and the other poets who are still derogatorily
known as Fireside or Schoolhouse poets in the larger scope of American literary studies.
Buell writes that Walden was being vastly outsold by Evangeline as late as 1906 (60,000
copies to 2,500). As Buell states it, "Between 1880 and 1903, the sales of Thoreau's
books had indeed quadrupled, but his annual thousands were dwarfed by Emerson's ten
thousands, not to mention Longfellow's hundred thousands" (342). His ascension into
the favor of Houghton, Mifflin corresponded to the company's downgrading of Whittier,
whose copyright fees were becoming unattractive while his sales were beginning to erode
by the turn of the century. Particularly because of its concision and the attention it grants
to Ticknor and Fields/Houghton Miffilin, I am particularly fond of Buell's interpretation
of Thoreau's publication history. For other accounts, however, see Wendell Glick's The
Recognition ofHenry David Thoreau, Michael Meyer's Several More Lives to Live:
Thoreau's Political Reputation in America, Michael Meyer and Walter Harding' s
"Thoreau's Reputation," Raymond R. Borst's Henry David Thoreau: A Reference Guide,
1835-1899, Gary Scharnhorsts's Henry David Throeau: A Case Study in Canonization,
and Robert Sattelmeyer's "Walden: Climbing the Canon."
19 Buell and Oelschlaeger are by no means the only scholars to valorize Thoreau as
the pre-eminent nineteenth-century philosopher of nature, often to the denigration of
Emerson, but the arguments that they pose in The Environmental Imagination and The
Idea of Wilderness have had a singular influence on a tremendous amount of recent, often
explicitly ecocritical, scholarship on Thoreau. For other declarations of Thoreau's
exceptionality as an early environmentalist and visionary ecological thinker, see Daniel
Botkin' s No Man's Garden: Thoreau and a New Vision for Civilization and Nature,
Philip Cafaro's "Thoreau's Virtue Ethics in Walden" and "Thoreau's Environmental
Ethics in Walden," Robert Kuhn McGregor's A Wider View of the Universe: Henry
Thoreau's Study ofNature, Oelschlaeger's "Environment and the 21st Century: A
Thoreauvian Interlude," Scott Russell Sanders's "Speaking a Word for Nature," William
Rossi's "Thoreau's Transcendental Ecocentrism," and Donald Worster's Nature's
Economy: A History of Ecological Ideas and "Thoreau and the American Passion for
Wilderness."















CHAPTER 4
HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW, UNITED STATES NATIONAL
LITERATURE, AND THE AMERICAN CANON' S ERASURE OF MATERIAL
NATURE


When George Santayana and Van Wyck Brooks began constructing an American

canon around Emerson and Whitman during the early decades of the twentieth century,

they initiated a long fade into obscurity for a range of authors like Washington Irving,

James Fenimore Cooper, William Cullen Bryant, John Greenleaf Whittier and Henry

Wadsworth Longfellow. Irving's popularity had always been tenuous, though, and

Cooper had damaged his own reputation so badly with his libel suits that the new

generation of critics simply finished a critical dismantlement that was already well under

way. Bryant supported himself primarily as an editor throughout his career and he never

produced a huge body of literary work, and Whittier was remembered as an abolitionist

as much as a poet. It was Longfellow, though,-the most successful, most widely read

American poet of the nineteenth century-who embodied better than any other literary

figure "the genteel tradition" that Santayana and Brooks sought to overthrow.

Ultimately, Santayana and Brooks accomplished their goal of breaking the "genteel

tradition," and in the process they also broke Longfellow, whose reputation, despite a

mild revival over the last fifteen years, has never recovered.1

Longfellow's erasure from the American canon surely marked an extreme shift in

literary aesthetics, but it also constituted a pivotal moment in the history of American

literature's silent environmental politics. Regardless of how unpalatable Longfellow's









poetry may have been to early twentieth century poets and critics, and regardless of how

foreign it may seem in the twenty-first century, many of Longfellow's most enduring

artistic productions, like Evangeline and The Song ofHiawatha, were conscious efforts to

enact an environmentally determined American literature. This national literature, as

Longfellow envisioned it, would draw its uniqueness from a North American

environment that he understood in physical and terrestrial terms-nature, for him, was a

visible, tactile phenomenon, not a set of abstractions like those formulated by Emerson in

Nature.

Three times during his career, in his 1824 "The Literary Spirit of Our Country," in

his 1832 "Defence of Poetry," and in his 1849 Kavanagh, Longfellow argued that any

legitimate national literature of the United States should have to spring from European

literary roots but depend upon the influence of North American nature for its uniqueness.2

After the first of these manifestoes, which establishes the fundamental position that

persists throughout subsequent arguments, each restatement of Longfellow's position

participates in a debate over the course of American literature that drew the support of

figures like James Russell Lowell and C. C. Felton and the ire of hypemationalistic and

nativist Young Americans like Evert Augustus Duyckinck and Cornelius Mathews.3

Longfellow's Literary Manifestoes

When it is mentioned at all, Longfellow's theorization of an American literature is

regularly reduced to a single essay-usually the 1832 "Defence of Poesy"-or dismissed as

a voice in the crowd.4 Admittedly, Longfellow published his first literary manifesto,

"The Literary Spirit of Our Country," when he was very young-he published it in the

United States Literary Gazette in 1825. Regardless of its early date, however, this

manifesto is critical to understanding the endurance of Longfellow's commitment to an









environmentally determined and Trans-Atlantic American literature. It offers a

prehistory to the more fully developed 1832 "Defence of Poetry," which has attracted

some critical attention, just as Longfellow's discussion of United States national literature

in his 1849 Kavanagh carries his plan for American literature into mid-century.

Over the course of these three pieces, Longfellow remains committed to a middle

course between American literary nativism and the imitation of European models, he

laments the impediments to literary culture that exist in the United States, and he always

argues that the North American environment must be the source of any emergent

American national literature. While Longfellow's theoretical commitments remain

consistent, however, each subsequent argument presents a more vehement engagement

with general and critical American cultures. As Longfellow moves from "The Literary

Sprit of Our Country" to "The Defence of Poetry" and eventually to Kavanagh, he

sharpens his critique of print culture in the United States and he takes issue with the New

Americans, like Cornelius Mathews, who were arguing at the time for the creation of a

nationalistic American Literature that would sever itself entirely from British and

European culture.

From the very beginning of his career, Longfellow believed that any U. S.

national literature would have to base its claims of vitality and originality on the qualities

of its natural environment because the new nation could match neither the educational

superstructure nor the deep cultural legacies that had produced enduring literary

traditions in Europe. In "The Literary Spirit of Our Country," for instance, Longfellow

resigns himself to the enduring influence of "English taste" in literature but he claims that

the exceptionally sensitive "poetic mind" would be deeply affected by a North American









nature that is "more exquisite than elsewhere" (793). On this particular continent, even in

the particular country of the United States, Longfellow believes that "nature has

exhibited her works upon the most beautiful and magnificent scale" and that this "vast

theatre" can be "the school in which the genius of our country is to be trained" (793).

Here, the environment bears such "an influence upon the mind ... that the features of the

intellect are moulded after those of nature" (793).

In his second literary manifesto, "The Defense of Poetry," Longfellow seems

more representative of what we regard today as mainstream nineteenth century literary

criticism; that is, he seems more Emersonian. After summarizing the national zeitgeist-

he finds the nation gripped in a pervasive sense of utility, proud of its territorial size, and

enraptured with "the magnificence and beauty of our natural scenery"-he remarks that

"the true glory of a nation consists not in the extent of its territory, the pomp of its forests,

the majesty of its rivers, the height of its mountains, and the beauty of its sky; but in the

extent of its mental power" (60). From this point, Longfellow launches into a long rant

about a nation's power being manifest in "the majesty of its intellect,-the height and

depth and purity of its moral nature ... in what nature and education have given to the

mind ... in the world within us ... in the attributes of the soul ... in the incorruptible,

the permanent, the imperishable mind. True greatness is the greatness of the mind;-the

true glory of a nation is moral and intellectual pre-eminence" (60).

It is this keen interest in the mind of the nation that causes Eric Carl Link, in

"American Nationalism," to conclude that Longfellow envisioned American national

literature to be purely a poetry of the mind (revelatory merely of "'the majesty of the

intellect'" and concerned "'not in the world around us, but in the world within us'") that









was dreadfully stunted by a national spirit preoccupied with materialistic utility

("American Nationalism" section II). Link overlooks, however, Longfellow's continued

obsession with the destining power of the North American environment. Regardless of

how concerned Longfellow is about the state of American culture or how much he wants

to locate national power in the intellect, his belief in environmental determinism is just as

strong in "The Defence of Poetry" as it is in "The Literary Spirit of Our Country."

Here, as in the previous essay, the natural world offers the best avenue toward a

viable and original American literature. Longfellow still believes, in 1832, that nature

shapes "the character of the mind, the peculiar habits of thought and feeling, and,

consequently, the general complexion of literary performances," and he extends this

sentiment into a claim that the effects of "natural scenery and climate" on the mind are

"the most obvious ... in their influence upon the prevailing tenor of poetic composition"

(70). He supports his argument with claims that the particular environments of England,

Italy, Spain, and Portugal have shaped each nation's literature, and he ultimately

recommends that American authors submit the formation of a new national literature to

nature's deterministic power. Openly desiring that "our native poets would give a more

national character to their writings," Longfellow simply suggests that "they have only to

write more naturally, to write from their own feelings and impressions, from the

influence of what they see around them, and not from any pre-conceived notions of what

poetry ought to be, caught by reading many books, and imitating many models" (74, 75).

Longfellow and the Nineteenth Century American Literature Debates

Longfellow's suggestion in "The Defence of Poetry" that an American literature

would develop on its own due to the influence of the natural world differs drastically

from other early-to-mid nineteenth-century manifestoes of American national literature.









No manifesto presents a more different vision, for instance, than Cornelius Mathews's

hyper-nationalistic 1847 "Nationality in Literature"-the essay, it seems, that caused

Longfellow to restate his theory of environmentally determined poetry for a third time in

his 1849 prose tale, Kavanagh. In "Nationality in Literature," Mathews (who is

remembered today as an overzealous member of the Young Americans who often

irritated his more conventional associates like Evert Duyckinck) is frustrated to

distraction by the fact that "this great country has no native literature, but is, in letters,

in a state of colonial and provincial dependency upon the old world" (60).5 The United

States, he finds, exists in an "old literary domination;" it is overmasteredd by the

literature of England" and mired "in a state of pupilage" that can be best overcome

through the cultivation of "a clear development of the idea and the necessity of

nationality" (61).

American national literature, as far as Cornelius Mathews is concerned, should

involve "home writers .... home themes, affording opportunity for descriptions of our

scenery ... events ... [and] the manners of the people" all "penetrated and vivified by an

intense and enlightenedpatriotism" (62 emphasis added). Nationalism, Mathews argues,

guards[] the soil and preserves] the sacred independence of nations," but it also inspires

great literature. (65). Using Greece, Rome and England as examples because their

"writers have been most penetrated by the sense of nationality," Mathews argues that

nationalism, "instead of narrowing the domain of... great writers, has made their chief

works the peerless gifts and priceless treasures of the whole intellectual world" (63).

Mathews feels that American authors "slavishly adhere to old and foreign models," and

he demands that they abandon their "unnational spirit" to finally create a new American









literature (65). It should be thoroughly independent of Europe, Mathews argues; it

should be (quoting a speech that he had earlier presented in New York City) "'instinct

with the life of the country, full of a hearty, spontaneous, genuine home feeling; relishing

of the soil of the spirit of the people," and it should "sound of the great voices of nature,

of which she is full'" (65-66).

Mathews's "Nationality in Literature" shares one idea with Longfellow's

manifestoes-it believes that any emergent American literature would require the

particularly powerful influence of the North American environment. However, it attacks

the internationalism of Longfellow and other like-minded intellectuals like C. C. Felton

(the classicist who was Longfellow's colleague at Harvard before eventually becoming

the college's president) until it finally arrives at a plan that would have American

literature actually look like the literature of, to use the term that Perry Miller made

famous, a "Nature's Nation"-a nation sui-or-ex natural, composed only from nature

without any inheritance from European culture.

Beyond simply being angry that the United States has not produced a spectacular

nativist literature, in "Nationality in Literature" Mathews is irritated by the fact that

patriotism "has been denied in a quarter of respectability" by elites like C. C. Felton, who

had just written an article in The North American Review disclaiming patriotism as

tawdry and counterproductive in the march toward an American national literature.

Mathews's entire argument in "Nationality in Literature" is written in explicit response to

the critique of literary patriotism that Felton incorporated into his October 1846 review of

"Simms's Stories and Reviews." In this review, which strays significantly from its

primary subject-two works by William Gilmore Simms-, Felton argues that "national









literature cannot be forced like a hothouse plant" while he accuses (through suggestion

rather than name-calling) the New Americans of producing merely a good deal of

unmeaning talk about American literature" without doing anything substantial to bring

such a national literature into being (377).

Felton's discussion of the New Americans manifests itself in a critique of "certain

coteries of would-be men of letters, noisy authorlings" who "waste their time and vex the

spirits of long-suffering readers, by prating about our want of an independent national

American literature" (377). As if this is not a sufficiently direct condemnation of

Mathews, Felton adds a damning dismissal of Mathews's The Career ofPuffer

Hopkins that draws Mathews into the center of his critique (377). Mathews recognized in

"Nationality in Literature," Felton felt that "an intense national self-consciousness,

though the shallow may misname it patriotism, is the worst foe to the true and generous

unfolding of national genius"(377). Any viable national literature must speak to the

universal rather than the national or provincial, Felton believes, and the New American

dismissal of "the English language and its glorious treasures" amounts to a calamitous

rejection of the nation's "birthright" (377). This dismissal, moreover, requires American

authors to "limit themselves to American subjects ... as if, forsooth, the genius of

America must never wander beyond the mountains, forests, and waterfalls of the western

continent" (377).

When Mathews turns Felton's position on its head in "Nationality in Literature,"

he is not merely rejecting the theory of national literature held by a Harvard classicist, but

the primary theory of an internationalist and environmentally determined American

literature that Longfellow had already once restated since his 1824 "The Literary Spirit of









Our Country." And it was Mathews's 1847 reaction against Felton in "Nationality in

Literature," it seems, that inspired Longfellow to once again redefine his position in his

1849 Kavanagh, a tale that he began writing in 1847 shortly upon the heels of Mathews's

essay.

Longfellow's Kavanagh tells a conventional tale of country romance, but in the

center of the tale a new character named Mr. Hathaway-modeled after Cornelius

Mathews-enters the scene with no purpose beyond sparking an extended debate about

national literature with Longfellow's persona in the text-a school teacher and aspiring

author, Mr. Churchill.6 Kavanagh cannot be properly classified as either a romance or a

novel (historical or otherwise), but it is a self-conscious work of fiction, and as such it is

not surprising that Longfellow never actually speaks the name of Cornelius Mathews.

Hathaway bursts on the scene, however, attempting to enlist Churchill in "a new

magazine he was about to establish, in order to raise the character of American literature,

which, in his opinion, the existing reviews and magazines had entirely failed to

accomplish" (754). The journal, which Hathaway plans to call "The Niagara" is

incredibly similar in its plan to The Arcturus that Mathews edited with Evert Duyckinck

from 1841 to 1842, and both Hathaway's nativist literary vision and his overzealous

rhetoric point unequivocally toward the brash Cornelius Mathews whose unchecked

passion embarrassed his friends.

Over the course of the discussion that springs up between these two characters,

Hathaway offers a number of claims that allow Longfellow to methodically refine the

theories of national literature that he offered in 1825 and 1832. As he lays out the plan

for his new nativist literary magazine, Hathaway explains that he wants an American









national literature that is as grandiose as the North American environment and as wild,

uncultivated, and free:

We want a national literature commensurate with our mountains and rivers,-
commensurate with Niagara, and the Alleghanies, and the Great Lakes! We
want a national epic that shall correspond to the size of the country; that shall be
to all other epics what Banvard's Panorama of the Mississippi is to all other
paintings,-the largest in the world! ... In a word, we want a national literature
altogether shaggy and unshorn, that shall shake the earth, like a herd of buffaloes
thundering over the prairies! (754-55)

Such a literature, for Hathaway, must be absolutely "'original"' (or unrelated to any

existing literary tradition) and absolutely national ("'If it is not national,"' he argues, "'it

is nothing"') (756, 755).

Longfellow uses this series of claims to explain his own faith in the American

environment's ability to eventually cultivate a national literature and to reassert the value

of European literary models in the face of nativist literary isolationism. While

Longfellow essentially agrees with what Hathaway calls "'the influence of scenery on the

mind,"' he qualifies his earlier manifestoes' broad claims of environmental determinism

by having Churchill-his own persona in the text-explain that "'scenery"' cannot

"'create genius"' but "'only develop it"' (755). It is not so much a concession on

Longfellow's part so much as a careful qualification made necessary by what he regarded

as Mathews's cockeyed and overly emotional hyper-nationalism, which threatened what

Longfellow and Churchill believed would be the "natural" development of an American

literature (756). As Longfellow explains through the mouth of Churchill, "'national

literature is not the growth of a day'" but of "'centuries;"' "'our own is growing slowly

but surely, striking its roots downward, and its branches upward, as is natural; and I do









not wish, for the sake of what some people call originality, to invert it, and try to make it

grow with its roots in the air"' (756).

Longfellow expects the particular qualities of the North American environment to

shape whatever genius arises in the United States, but he wants to allow nature the time it

takes to create a national literature that is "'universal'" and internationally engaged rather

than narrowly nationalistic and mired in a patriotism that "'is often ridiculous'" (756).

Regardless of nature's power to shape the literary mind, in Kavanagh as in each of his

previous literary manifestoes, Longfellow neither believes nor desires that American

literature will ever be able to exact the clean break from British literature that Hathaway-

and Cornelius Mathews-want. Churchill, constantly speaking for Longfellow, simply

cannot "see how our literature can be very different from theirs. Westward from hand to

hand we pass the lighted torch, but it was lighted at the old domestic fireside of England"

(756). Moreover, he does not recognize this extension of the British tradition as "'an

imitation'" so much as "'a continuation'" that "'we may well be proud of" (756). There

is nothing in Kavanagh to dilute, in other words, the staunch sense of trans-Atlantic unity

that inspires Longfellow to write near the end of his "Defence of Poetry" that any

aspiring American poet "should make ... the whole body of English classical literature,

his study" (77).

Longfellow's Un-Emersonian Nature

In the scattered fits and bursts that he devotes to Longfellow in American

Renaissance, F. O. Matthiessen argues that Evangeline (1847) and The Song ofHiawatha

(1855) demonstrate the chief problem with Longfellow's poetry: his poetic forms "were

not brought into fusion with his native themes" (174). Longfellow's manifestoes were all

but forgotten by the time Matthiessen published American Renaissance and their









approach was thoroughly out of step with the modernist program that Matthiessen

promoted. They suggest, however, that Longfellow's fusion of European forms and

"native themes" was entirely intentional.

In "The Literary Spirit of Our Country," "Defence of Poetry,"and Kavanagh,

Longfellow asks that poets turn to American nature for inspiration and for literary subject

matter while maintaining ties to European literary traditions, and he argues repeatedly

that any American exceptionality in culture or literature would have to be

environmentally determined. In Evangeline and Hiawatha Longfellow attempts to carry

this poetic project forward, and while he fuses the forms of Scandanavian sagas with

North American subjects he presents the natural world in a way that is wholly different

from Emerson's system of environmental abstraction. Longfellow, rather, consistently

represents the natural world as a terrestrial and material, grounded and tactile

phenomenon, and in these two long poems he spends tremendous amounts of space

describing it because it bears such incredible cultural significance.

Nearly half of Evangeline, after all, constitutes a ranging tour of the North

American continent, and throughout the poem Longfellow depends upon an

environmental gaze that despite it frequent panoramic sweep remains fixed on a physical,

terrestrial American environment.7 After the village of Grand-Pre is burned and its

inhabitants are dispersed by the British navy, the poem follows Evangeline

Bellefontaine's search for her finance, Gabriel Lajeunesse, as she travels down the

Mississippi to Louisiana, and from there to the American West. The entire second section









of "Part the Second," in fact, catalogs what Evangeline sees as she travels "through a

wilderness sombre with forests:"

cotton-trees ... broad lagoons, where silvery sandbars / Lay in the stream ...
china-trees groves of orange and citron ... a maze of sluggish and devious
waters towering and tenebrous boughs of the cypress trailing mosses ...
herons ... columns of cypress and cedar ... the whoop of the crane and the roar
of the grim alligator ... water-lilies in myriads (43-45)8

After Evangeline reaches the Louisiana home of Basil the Blacksmith and finds that

Gabriel has "sought in the Western wilds oblivion of self and of sorrow," her continued

search for Gabriel takes the poem into the West, where Longfellow again presents a

sweeping, panoramic representation of the North American continent (47). The poem's

movement into the West allows Longfellow to cartographically enclose the expansive

natural space that he expects to nourish a national literature, and he does this in a

language of scale, wonder, beauty, and luxuriance that constantly emphasizes the

exceptionality of the North American environment.

The same claim of environmental exceptionality motivates Longfellow's The

Song ofHiawatha, which makes an explicit claim of its own environmental

determination. The "stories," "legends and traditions" that the poem will relate,

Longfellow explains, have come "From the great forests and the prairies, / From the great

lakes of the Northland, / From the land of the Ojibways, / From the land of the Dacotahs,

/ From the mountains, moors, and fen-lands / Where the heron, the Shuh-shuh-gah, /

Feeds among the rushes"(141). Not from any person in particular, but explicitly from

places-"great forests and prairie," "great lakes," ancestral "lands," and "mountains,

moors, and fen-lands."









After his opening claim of nature's literary agency, Longfellow claims that Native

American oral literature (which he did take seriously) is itself evidence of the natural

world's artistic agency.9 The "legends and traditions" that Hiawatha relates,

Longfellow's narrator explains, have come to him "from the lips of Nawadaha," an

Indian "singer," who, in turn, heard them directly from the natural world (141).

Nawadaha, Longfellow writes, found the stories "In the bird's nests of the forest, / In the

lodges of the beaver, In the hoof-prints of the bison, / In the eyry of the eagle" (141). "In

the moorlands and the fen-lands, / In the melancholy marshes" "All the wild-fowl said

them to him;" "Chetowaik, the plover sang them, / Mahng, the loon, the wild goose,

Wawa, / the blue heron, the Shuh-Shuh-gah, / And the grouse, the Mushodosa" all sang

the stories of Hiawatha to Nawadaha, the Indian singer who pulled a native literature out

of the natural world (141).

The Nation's Shifting Sense of Nature and Longfellow's Hedge Against the Future

As Longfellow was arguing for an environmentally determined American

literature and working to create it, the nation's perception of its own environment was

undergoing a drastic shift. Over the course of the nineteenth century, in the words of

Shawn Leowen, the nation's "dominant conception of nature" shifted from "a discourse

of abundance" to a "discourse of scarcity" (98). Emerson and his abstract vision of an

immortal nature were becoming canonical, but the nation's sense of nature was moving

closer to the pessimistic environmental vision that Cooper presented in the

Leatherstocking Series earlier in the century even as Cooper was being driven into

obscurity.

Longfellow clearly sensed this shift in environmental perception, which

fundamentally threatened his plan for an environmentally determined American









literature. It punctures his narratives of nature's grandeur in surprising moments, and it

causes him to prepare a series of countermeasures that would preserve his American

literature against the possibility of nature's ultimate end. All of this-Longfellow's sense

of an environmental shift and his reaction against it-appears in Evangeline. This poem

begins and ends with descriptions of the timeless, pristine, and explicitly un-threatened

forest that surrounds the Acadian village of Grand-Pre, and it spends incredible space on

a panoramic tour of the North American continent; it is punctured, however, almost at its

center, by a stark admission of North American nature's destructibility. In lines that

simultaneously praise American progress and throw the endurance of Longfellow's

literary program into doubt, Longfellow writes that "lands may be had for the asking, and

forests of timber / With a few blows of the axe are hewn and framed into houses" (60-

61).

The replacement of forests with houses was something that Longfellow could

not-and would not have wanted to-denounce, but it still presented him with a tremendous

problem. For all of their positive implications, it was not "houses," but nature, forests,

that he believed could shape the cultural development of the United States," and as much

as he recognized the threatened status of North American nature, Longfellow still needed

to believe that the Acadian environment could continue to endure as it does in his poem.

The literary program that he had theorized and refined since his youth depended upon it

Structurally, Evangline keeps the Acadian environment alive. It is as pure,

inexorable, and immutable at the end of the poem when Longfellow returns to it as it is at

the poem's beginning. But the problem in within the bounds of the United States is

different. Here, especially in the final half of the poem, Longfellow becomes adopts an