Date of Degree
MA (Master of Arts)
In the lead up to the 2011 official U.S. State Department decision on the proposed Keystone XL pipeline--running from the Alberta, Canada Tar Sands to the Gulf of Mexico--the Department held nine public meetings in Fall 2011 in the six U.S. states through which the proposed Keystone XL pipeline project would pass (the Department rejected the proposal; however, a new proposal is under consideration as of this writing). The transcripts of these public meetings are publicly accessible.
Understanding the pipeline as a project of trans-national trade and the global circulation of petrochemicals--including global emissions of carbon dioxide--this paper hones in on one region within one U.S. state: the Nebraskan Sandhills, a cattle ranching region of grass-stabilized sand dunes and inter-dunal valleys stretching 20,000-square miles across the north-central part of the state, under which rests a vast hydrological network, including the largest freshwater aquifer in the world - the Ogallala Aquifer.
This essay argues that we can read the Public Comments as a form of poetic expression, paying attention to the ways the State Department transcription process formatted the oral testimonies into an "official" and sanctioned public document -- instituting line-breaks and other syntactical procedures. Using the tools of literary-critical analysis, this paper makes a case that we can read the Comments as a form of documentary poetry - in the tradition of such American modernist poets as Charles Reznikoff, Muriel Rukeyser, and George Oppen - that explore ecological questions while experimenting with lyric structures. The Comments reveal competing environmental stakeholders' stances - on such topics as Prairie systems ecology and the neoliberal economics of private-public capital markets. In doing so, they subsequently express citizens' various understandings of themselves in relation to landscape, ecology, technology, and geo-politics.
Eco-criticism, Keystone XL Pipeline, Literary studies, Ogallala aquifer, Poetry/Poetics, Sandhills (Nebraska)
iii, 53 pages
Includes bibliographical references (pages 51-53).
Copyright 2014 Eric M. Siegel