Date of Award
Master of Arts
Matthew W Sivils
In this study of three agricultural narratives, J. Hector St. John de Crèvecoeur's Letters from an American Farmer (1782), Susan Fenimore Cooper's Rural Hours (1850), and Henry Beston's Northern Farm: A Chronicle of Maine (1948), I utilize a number of approaches, including ecocritical criticism and theory, as well as agricultural history, to investigate how the American agricultural imagination portrays the overlapping ecological and cultural spaces of farming communities. These narratives approach the natural world through neither an entirely anthropocentric nor ecocentric perspective, but through a nuanced and refreshing viewpoint of environmental and communal interaction and reciprocity. In these chapters I argue that agricultural writers transcend the rift in environmental writing between the observer and the observed by analyzing spaces that do not exist at a distance from social manipulation, but those that are utilized by, and subsequently sustain human culture. Agriculture embodies a cultural endeavor that exists within the environment to perpetuate human communities. Those concerned with issues of contemporary food sustainability would do well to look at how American writers of the past have oriented themselves not as simply consumers of conscionable products, or as isolated outcasts, but as active community members that recognize communal vitality as the first step towards facilitating ecological health through sustainable food systems.
Joshua Dean Sullivan
Sullivan, Joshua Dean, ""Nothing of Ourselves": Agriculture and Community in St. John de Crèvecoeur, Susan Fenimore Cooper, and Henry Beston" (2012). Graduate Theses and Dissertations. 12480.