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September 29, 2017
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September 29, 2017
9781421423197
9781421423180
English
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6.00 Inches (US)
$32.95 USD, £24.50 GBP
v2.1 Reference

Undermined in Coal Country

On the Measures in a Working Land

Deep mining ended decades ago in Pennsylvania’s Lackawanna Valley. The barons who made their fortunes have moved on. Low wages and high unemployment haunt the area, and the people left behind wonder whether to stay or seek their fortunes elsewhere.

Bill Conlogue explores how two overlapping coal country landscapes—Scranton, Pennsylvania, and Marywood University—have coped with the devastating aftermath of mining. Examining the far-reaching environmental effects of mining, this beautifully written book asks bigger questions about what it means to influence a landscape to this extent—and then to live in it. In prose rivaling that of Annie Dillard and John McPhee, Conlogue argues that, if we are serious about solving environmental problems, if we are serious about knowing where we are and what happens there, we need to attend closely to all places—that is, to attend to the world in a cold, dark, and disorienting universe. Unearthing new ways of thinking about place, pedagogy, and the environment, this meditative text reveals that place is inherently unstable.

About the Author

Bill Conlogue is a professor of English at Marywood University. He is the author of Working the Garden: American Writers and the Industrialization of Agriculture and Here and There: Reading Pennsylvania's Working Landscapes.

Endorsements

"In the Scranton area, history is buried literally and figuratively. The remnants of a once vibrant coal industry lurk underground; the sweep of time has effaced a legacy of environmental damage and social turmoil. Bill Conlogue's insightful book masterfully takes stock of transformations in the region's present by uncovering much of its forgotten past."

- John Bodnar, Indiana University, author of Our Towns: Remembering Community in Indiana

"In Undermined in Coal Country, Bill Conlogue has achieved a heart-rending expose of the damage done heedless mining practices and greed to his hometown and the whole of coal country and a powerful metaphor of the human condition with the hope that studies of the arts and humanities may offer."

- Mary Clearman Blew, University of Idaho, author of This is Not the Ivy League: A Memoir

"Part family history, part environmental lament, part literary meditation, Undermined in Coal Country is a compelling investigation of the high costs that the anthracite coal industry has imposed on northeastern Pennsylvania. In a distinctive voice, Conlogue emphasizes the devastation not merely caused by coal extraction but its danger coupled with a dishonest celebration of blue-collar suffering, thereby diminishing the expectations of those who live and work there today. Anyone who grew up in the rustbelt, as I did myself, should read Bill Conlogue’s book."

- Clifton Hood, Hobart and William Smith College, author of 722 Miles: The Building of the Subways and How They Transformed New York

"Remarkably well written, graceful, and powerful. This hybrid book, which is both scholarly and literary, boldly explores the place of literature (and the liberal arts in general) in dealing with environmental issues and understanding local environments."

- Ian Marshall, Penn State Altoona, author of Story Line: Exploring the Literature of the Appalachian Trail

"Undermined in Coal Country is a thoughtful reading of the subsidence—both literal and metaphoric—that everywhere insinuates our local and global landscapes. Grounded in the communities in and around Scranton, PA, Conlogue traces broader, interwoven narratives of resource extraction, community, labor, literature, and education to provide readers with nuanced ways to understand what might lie beneath the surfaces of the places they call home."

- Pavel Cenkl, Sterling College, author of Nature and Culture in the Northern Forest: Region, Heritage, and Environment in the Rural Northeast

Reviews

"Chair of the English Department Dr. Erin Sadlack described Conlogue’s work as "engaging and relevant." She said she used a passage from his book in her Digital Shakespeare course that started a discussion in the class. "I think that one of the really fantastic things about Bill’s writing in particular is that he is able to take these really complex ideas and make them accessible," she said. "I think that’s also really important because it helps people understand that the work that we do in the humanities is really relevant to their lives." She encouraged everyone to read Conlogue’s book."

- The Wood Word

"As much as by chronology or theme, his book proceeds via metaphors, myths, and the literature he reads, studies, and teaches. He works such motifs as the "undermining" of his title and the "measures" of his subtitle — a reference to seams of anthracite — to consider what the region’s history of mining reveals about human folly and endeavor."

- The Chronicle of Higher Education

"Surrounded by anti-intellectualism, poverty, and the environmental degradation that inevitably attended the burst of extractive capitalism that swept through and then abandoned so much of the United States, Conlogue articulately makes a calm but passionate plea for keeping the humanities central to a curriculum that legislators and college administrators relentlessly want to divert toward vocationalism."

- Philip G. Terrie, Bowling Green State University - Journal of American History
Johns Hopkins University Press
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