Abstract

Abstract:

This article explores the history of southern soil erosion as documented in the New Deal–era art works of John McCrady, James Routh, Buell Whitehead, Nell Choate Jones, and Hale Woodruff. While scholars in the interdisciplinary field of ecocriticism have found environmental significance in the literary texts of the Southern Renaissance, they have largely overlooked the period's visual arts. This essay seeks to address this omission with an examination of paintings and prints that bear witness to the depleted landscapes of the early twentieth-century South. The result of overzealous deforestation and imprudent farming practices, acute soil erosion predated the Great Plains' barren fields by decades and nearly paralyzed a region still recovering from the devastation of the Civil War. The surveyed works stand as a cautionary tale of environmental disregard and, anticipating the eco-commentaries of the South's new millennial artists, raise important questions about the region's longstanding fealty to extraction economies.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-1488
Print ISSN
1068-8218
Pages
pp. 72-87
Launched on MUSE
2019-04-16
Open Access
No
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