A Geology of Borders: Dis-Places in the Southwest Deserts

James Goebel
Comparative Literature
UC Irvine

This research contributed to the research surrounding twentieth-century Anglo-, Hispano-, and Native-American literatures of the southwest deserts. The grantee approached these canons through the fields of critical animal, environmental, and science studies with the theoretical frameworks of ecocriticism, especially theorizations of “place” and neo-materialism. The dissertation was divided into three parts – Geology, Biology, Climatology – and mined these sciences for the concepts, metaphors, and neologisms they construct in order to understand their objects. The project, therefore, created the space for an encounter between scientific and literary aesthetic productions in order to approximate a naturalist-philosophical method; that is, a method that interwove techniques of close observation and speculative narration to heighten attentiveness to processes and events obscured by dominant regimes of perception, feeling, and thinking. In so doing, the constructed a counter-narrative to configurations of the southwest deserts as either empty wastelands or sites of resource exploitation.