“Miracles in the Desert: Literature, Water, and Public Discourse in the American West”

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Abstract

The words of Muir, Abbey, and other writers continue to inform debates that will decide the fate of some of the largest, most expensive water management projects in the US. This essay will examine the intimate, if uneasy, relationship between literature, water policy, and public discourse in the West. While the increasing complexity of environmental debates about water policy may suggest literary productions no longer influence either public discourse or meaningful environmental legislation, recent developments in water policy debates in the West indicate the opposite. Moreover, there exists more common ground between policy makers and the producers of literary texts than is commonly supposed. I argue that a deeper understanding of and appreciation for the role of literary texts and other cultural productions in these debates will aid policy makers and the public in crafting successful, long-term water management strategies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)743-759
JournalInterdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment
StatePublished - Oct 2009

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