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Writing Nature in Cold War American Literature$
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Sarah Daw

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781474430029

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474430029.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM EDINBURGH SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.edinburgh.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Edinburgh University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ESO for personal use.date: 17 April 2021

Nature and the Nuclear Southwest: Peggy Pond Church and J. Robert Oppenheimer

Nature and the Nuclear Southwest: Peggy Pond Church and J. Robert Oppenheimer

(p.61) Chapter 2 Nature and the Nuclear Southwest: Peggy Pond Church and J. Robert Oppenheimer
Writing Nature in Cold War American Literature

Sarah Daw

Edinburgh University Press

Chapter Two takes as its subject the New Mexican poet Peggy Pond Church. Although Church is not a canonically recognised writer, this chapter reveals that her poetry and prose writings contain innovative depictions of an infinite, ecological Nature that is even capable of containing the new nuclear threat. Church’s biography places her at the centre of the story of the nuclear Southwest; her family was evicted from her father’s Ranch School when the US government repossessed their land to make way for the Manhattan Project in 1942. The main body of this chapter reads Church’s poetry alongside an exploration of her interest in Pueblo Native American thought, revealing the degree to which Church drew on the Pueblo worldview in forming the ecological vision of the human relationship to Nature that defines her writing. The final section of the chapter explores the relationship between Church’s writings and those of her neighbour and correspondent, the atomic physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer, exposing the synergies between both writers’ contemporaneous depictions of ecology.

Keywords:   Peggy Pond Church, Nuclear, Ecology, Pueblo Native American, J. Robert Oppenheimer

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