This dissertation examines Gulf Coast-centered environmental nonfiction narratives in texts across multiple genres, including nonfiction books, documentary films, and web-based interactives. These texts construct the region at the nexus of the negative geological, ecological, and human health impacts of oil extraction and petrochemical production. In the first body chapter, I analyze three nonfiction texts by journalists and academics who travel to south Louisiana and offer an outsiders’ perspective on the place, all of which I argue represent an emerging genre of elegiac travelogue. I then rhetorically analyze three documentaries on the BP spill, reading them rhetorically for oil’s visibility and invisibility, and arguing that all three films audiovisually construct, sometimes through the invocation of other senses, petroleum’s social-material impacts on the Gulf Coast through representations of sickness and toxicity, in alignment with environmental justice concerns. The final chapter begins with an analysis of two interactive maps focused on petrochemical industry-related environmental impacts along the Gulf Coast. I then place these maps within the context of scholarship and pedagogy in Writing Studies and Environmental and Energy Humanities, and conclude with teaching materials that aim to address these issues presented throughout this dissertation in an advanced undergraduate classroom, placing the issues faced by the Gulf Coast in broader national and international contexts.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. May 2019. Major: Rhetoric and Scientific and Technical Communication. Advisor: Daniel Philippon. 1 computer file (PDF); vi, 205 pages.
Composing the Gulf Coast: Narratives of Environmental Toxicity, Racial Injustice, and Carbon Energy Across Modalities.
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