Peregrinations: Walking the Story, Writing the Path in Euro-American, Native American, and Chicano/Chicana Literatures
AuthorHamilton, Amy T
Committee ChairCooper Alarcon, Daniel
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThis dissertation traces the act of walking as both metaphor and physical journey through the American landscape in American texts. Drawing together texts from different time periods, genres, and cultural contexts, I contend that walking is a central trope in American literature. Textual representations of traversing the land provoke transformation of the self recording the walk and the landscape in the imagination of the walker. The experience of walking across and through the heavily storied American land challenges the walker to reconcile lived experience with prior expectations.While many critics have noted the preponderance of travel stories in American literature, they tend to center their studies on the journeys of Euro-American men and less often Euro-American women, and approach walking solely as metaphor. The symbolic power of a figure walking across the American land has rightfully interested critics looking at travel across the continent; however, this focus tends to obscure the fact that walking, after all, is not only a literary trope - it has real, physical dimensions as well.Walking in the American land is more than the forward movement of civilization, and it is more than the experience of wilderness and wildness. In many ways, walking defines the American ideals of space, place, and freedom. In this context, this dissertation investigates the connections between walking, American literature, and the natural world: What is it about walking that seems to allow American writers to experience the land in a way that horses, cars, trains, and planes prevent? What about the land and the self is revealed at three miles an hour? In the texts I examine, walking provides a connection to the natural world, the sacred, and individual and cultural identity. I trace American responses to nature and cultural identity through the model of walking - the rhythm of footsteps, the pain of blisters and calluses, and the silence of moving through the wilderness on foot.