<b>"Under the Ditch": Channeling Water through Owen Wister's <i>The Virginian</i></b> // "Bajo la acequia": Canalizando el agua a través de <i>The Virginian</i> de Owen Wister'

  • Jada Ach University of South Carolina
Keywords: Ecocriticism, infrastructure studies, Owen Wister, nineteenth- and twentieth-century American literature, new materialism // Ecocrítica, estudios de infraestructura, literatura norteamericana del siglo diecinueve y veinte, nuevo materialismo

Abstract

     This paper combines envirotech history with elemental ecocriticism to examine the lively presence of water infrastructure in Owen Wister’s The Virginian (1902). In Wister’s novel, humans and animals assemble around channels of water, and the fight to divert and control water systems initiates both violence and new alliances. Instead of relegating water infrastructures to the inconsequential background, this paper asks what ditches, water storage containers, and reservoirs can contribute to our understanding of gender and human-environmental relations at the turn of the twentieth century. It argues that Progressive Era water development places “manliness” at risk at the same time that it defines it. Since thirst, aridity, and mobility contribute to the making of hard, manly men in Wister’s view, irrigation emerges as a potent challenge to the novel’s hard logic.

 

Resumen

     Este trabajo combina perspectivas del campo de historia de la tecnología medioambiental con la ecocrítica elemental para examinar la vida asociada a la infraestructura hidráulica en The Virginian (1902) de Owen Wister. En esta obra de Wister, tanto seres humanos como animales se reúnen alrededor de canales de agua, en los que la lucha para desviar y controlar los sistemas hidráulicos desencadenan episodios de violencia y nuevas alianzas. En lugar de relegar estas infraestructuras a un papel carente de significado, este texto cuestiona cómo han podido contribuir las acequias, los las balsas de agua, y los depósitos a nuestra concepción del género y de las relaciones entre los seres humanos y medioambiente durante los inicios del siglo veinte. Por último, este trabajo pretende establecer que el desarollo hidráulico durante la “época progresista” en los Estados Unidos ha definido “la masculinidad” y, al mismo tiempo, la ha puesto en riesgo. Puesto que, como sugiere la novela, la sed, la aridez, y la mobilidad contribuyen a la formación de hombres duros y masculinos, el sistema de regadío se configura como un desafío potente a las lógicas racionalistas de la novela

 

Author Biography

Jada Ach, University of South Carolina
Jada Ach is a Ph.D. candidate in Nineteenth-Century American Literature at the University of South Carolina, currently working on a dissertation titled 'Sand, Water, Salt: Managing the Elements in Literature of the American West, 1880-1925.' Her research focuses on the often messy relations between humans and environments in literature set in the so-called wasteland spaces of the Western United States at the turn of the twentieth century. Her ecocritical examination of desert spaces in the novel McTeague appears in a 2016 issue of Western American Literature. Jada is the past recipient of the Bilinski Dissertation Fellowship, the Rhude Patterson Trustee Fellowship, the Western Literature Association's J. Golden Taylor Award, and a North Carolina Arts Council Grant. In addition to teaching courses in composition and American literature, Jada also leads wilderness writing workshops at South Carolina's Congaree National Park.
Published
2018-04-28