Journal or Book Title
The James Fenimore Cooper Society Journal
We could not have asked for a better theme for a James Fenimore Cooper conference than the one the organizers selected for this year—watersheds. Like the best conference themes, it invites timely papers devoted to specific topics while also allowing for scholarship that takes off in more unexpected directions. It's a rare example of strength in ambiguity, for even in its most literal sense, a watershed remains a relatively abstract, deceptively complex, concept. As the venerable Oxford English Dictionary contends, a watershed is merely "The line separating the waters flowing into different rivers or river basins; a narrow elevated tract of ground between two drainage areas." I like to think Cooper—whose works often incorporate lush descriptions of actual river systems, while also investigating the socio-political repercussions associated with invisible, and often arbitrary, "dividing lines"—would have approved of this theme as a point of entry into discussing the continued impact of his work, a project that becomes increasingly important as we move deeper into a twenty-first century marked by so much promise and so much more uncertainty.
James Fenimore Cooper Society Journal
Sivils, Matthew Wynn, "Blood in the Watershed: Systems Ecology, Violence, and Cooper’s 'The Pioneers'" (2018). English Publications. 300.