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Inventing the Southwest: How Modernists Shaped an American Regional Experience

Oliphant, Elizabeth (2017) Inventing the Southwest: How Modernists Shaped an American Regional Experience. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This dissertation traces the emergence of the Southwest as a distinct region with significant influence on U.S. literature and popular culture. I argue that modernist-era writers helped to promote the U.S. Southwest and to distinguish it as a unique region in the national imaginary. In addition to writing about the Southwest for modernist publications, these writers had a significant hand in shaping the experience of tourists in the region by working with the tourist industry. Building on the interventions of New Modernist Studies, this project expands the scope of literary studies to consider how writers affiliated with the modernist movement reached large audiences through commercial channels.
The introductory chapter of this dissertation situates the project in scholarly conversations about modernism, regionalism, canonicity, and settler colonial studies. The remaining chapters take up case studies related to literary and commercial activity in the Southwest. My first chapter follows the career of author Charles Lummis, who popularized tourism and literature related to Spanish Colonial culture in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. My second chapter locates the growth of heritage tourism in the 1920s Southwest in projects of author Mary Austin. My third chapter looks at representations of tourism and imperialism in the Southwestern writing of D.H. Lawrence, Jean Toomer, and Lynn Riggs. My fourth chapter recovers the relationship between the modernist little magazine Poetry and the Southwestern tourism industry, showing that Poetry’s Southwestern issues featured poems that were later used in the promotional materials distributed by the Fred Harvey Company, a large tourism and hospitality business in the Southwest. The afterword to this dissertation offers a short close reading of the official brochure for the 1928 Santa Fe Fiesta, which brought together commercial, civic, and creative interests in the promotion of tourism and colonial nostalgia. The afterword also addresses some of the implications of understanding modernism as a literary movement that was partially driven by commercial interests.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Oliphant, Elizabetholiphant.elizabeth@gmail.comelo130000-0001-9982-4680
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairGlazener, Nancyglazener@pitt.eduglazener
Committee MemberArac, Jonathanjarac@pitt.edujarac
Committee MemberScott, Williamwdscott@pitt.eduwdscott
Committee MemberSavage, Kirkksa@pitt.eduksa
Date: 28 September 2017
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 24 July 2017
Approval Date: 28 September 2017
Submission Date: 18 August 2017
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 237
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > English
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: modernism, new modernist studies, U.S. Southwest, tourism, New Mexico
Date Deposited: 28 Sep 2017 22:58
Last Modified: 28 Sep 2017 22:58


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