Elemental: Desert Humanities Series with Jada Ach

Jada Ach and cover of her book,

Join the Desert Humanities Initiative at ASU and Jada Ach for the second event in Elemental: Desert Humanities Series, on Tuesday, Nov. 17, 3:30 - 4:30 p.m.

At this event, Jada Ach will discuss her upcoming book "Sand, Water, Salt: Managing the Elements in Literature of the American West, 1880-1925," which moves through a variety of novels, memoirs and cultural artifacts from the 1880s to the 1920s, including L. Frank Baum’s "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz," Frank Norris’s "McTeague," Mary Hunter Austin’s "The Land of Little Rain," "The Virginian" by Owen Wister, "Life among the Piutes" by Sarah Winnemucca, as well as Jack London’s "The Sea-Wolf" and Yone Noguchi’s "The American Diary of a Japanese Girl."

At different times, and to varying degrees, Americans have deemed three Western environments economically unproductive, incompatible with Anglo-American settlement and/or highly unmanageable: the arid deserts, the semiarid high plains and the Pacific Ocean.

Despite these varied complaints, the U.S. has also intensely desired these “wasteland” spaces, perceiving them as sources of both national wealth and elite pleasure.

Ach ultimately asks what we gain by looking back at fin-de-siècle American literature with a queer, ecological justice-oriented eye, a particularly invigorating conversation that uniquely uses the elements as foci.

Speaker Bio

Jada Ach is a lecturer in CISA's Faculty of Leadership and Integrative Studies at Arizona State University, where she teaches courses in liberal and interdisciplinary studies. She is the author of "Sand, Water, Salt: Managing the Elements in Literature of the American West, 1880-1925" and co-editor of" Reading Aridity in Western American Literature," both of which are forthcoming in December 2020.

Elemental: Desert Humanities Series

This webinar series is interested in prompting dialogues about the paradox of the elemental. As fundamental and grounding as the elemental can be, sometimes it is intangible. Touching quartz diorite in the Elves Chasm pluton of the Grand Canyon feels like touching something immediate and literally grounding — exposed rock from a distant past — yet thinking about the age of this rock, some 1.8 billion years, is abstract. The elemental is both the abstraction of something fundamental and its concreteness.

Elemental: Desert Humanities Series brings together experts of ecocritical thought and geologic time, beginning a larger conversation about how the elemental desert impacts our immediate, near and distant futures.


Celina Osuna, cosuna2@asu.edu
Tues., Nov. 17, 3:30 p.m.

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