Cover

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Frontmatter

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Contents

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pp. 1-9

Foreword by Wayne Franklin

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pp. ix-xiv

Acknowledgments

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pp. xv-xix

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Introduction: Biocultural Change and Literary Pastoralism in Great Plains Fiction

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pp. 1-14

Within the realm of literary studies, the word pastoral is likely to conjure up a series of related experiences revolving around the process of escaping: retreat, renew, refresh, and—sometimes—return. Whether it is Huck Finn “lighting out for the territories” of the trans- Mississippi west, Nick Adams fishing the Two Hearted River in Michigan’s Upper Penin-...

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1. (Un)settling the Indian Wilderness: Tribal Pastoralism in Cooper’s The Prairie and Welch’s Fools Crow

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pp. 15-54

As a period of significant transition and transformation on the Great Plains, the Euroamerican conquest of tribal lands in the West provides a logical starting point from which to begin a discussion concerning the discursive power of bad land pastoralism. An examination of frontier contact from a land- use perspective illustrates the ways in which pastoralism may be employed to make sense of the cultural and ecological consequences of the major biocultural shift precipitated by the arrival...

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2. Pastoralism and Enclosure: Marriage and Illegitimate Children on the Range-FarmFrontier in Eaton’s Cattle and Richter’s Sea of Grass

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pp. 55-98

In some ancient wilderness, so the story goes, two brothers— one a herdsman and the other a tiller of the soil—made offerings to their god. This god looked favorably upon Brother Herder’s offering and in turn rejected the humble fruits of Brother Farmer’s labor. Indignant and envious in the face of this slight, Brother Farmer went out into the fields the next day and murdered his competition. Needless to say, this act did not help his cause in the eyes of his god.

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3. Harmonious Fields and Wild Prairies: Transcendental Pastoralism in Willa Cather’s Nebraska Novels

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pp. 99-134

The homesteading success of Angella Loring and Nettie Day in Eaton’s Cattle provides a microcosmic expression of a broader bioregional and literary phenomenon that is most readily associated with Willa Cather. Indeed, Cather certainly warrants special attention here, as her Nebraska fiction provides a comprehensive literary record of the profound changes wrought upon the Plains by the Euroamerican homesteaders and road makers of the West.

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4. Patches of Green and Fields of Dust: Dust Bowl Pastoralism in Olsen’s Yonnondio and Manfred’s The Golden Bowl

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pp. 135-170

The human and ecological catastrophe of the Dust Bowl as a land- event throws into relief the ambivalent heritage of land use on the Great Plains and provides a catalyst for renewed and revised articulations of bad land pastoralism.1 In many ways, the Dust Bowl is the consummate “bad land” event. It is a dramatic human and environmental tragedy that simultaneously registers the dusty reality of what is there and exposes, through its loss, the romantic fantasy concerning what might have been. As attempts to rectify the gap between the reality and the fantasy, bad land pastorals dramatize moments of transition that beg questions about what it means to adapt to and inhabit a place. To

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5. Healing the Wounds of History: Buffalo Commons Pastoralism in Proulx’s That Old Ace in the Hole and King’s Truth and Bright Water

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pp. 171-198

In 1987, Frank and Deborah Popper, a Rutgers- based couple, published their Buffalo Commons proposal as a response to what they saw as a reemerging crisis on the Great Plains that involved massive depopulation from rural counties and continued ecological devastation brought on by the cumulative effects of centuries of drought, overgrazing, and over- irrigating. Their proposal called for the transformation of a large portion of the Great Plains, particularly those counties most in distress, into a federally owned and managed park where the prairies could be restored and the buffalo could roam again.1

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Epilogue: Pastoral Art and the Beautiful

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pp. 199-202

As a wealthy “famous Indian artist,” Monroe Swimmer can afford to bypass economic considerations when he uses his land for artistic purposes, and he is therefore free to ignore the financial pressures and temptations that haunt those whose livelihood depends upon making the land produce. Assessing the practical value of Monroe’s restoration project thus ...

Notes

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pp. 203-214

Bibliography

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pp. 215-226

Index

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pp. 226-233