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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The Smokey Generation: A Wildland Fire Oral History and Digital Storytelling Project
by Hannah, Bethany E., M.A., Prescott College, 2015, 610; 1589895
Abstract (Summary)

This contextual essay provides a full description of The Smokey Generation, an applied thesis project designed around creating an interactive website that collects and presents oral histories and digital stories of current and past wildland firefighters, with an initial focus on hotshots (i.e., specific teams of wildland firefighters notable for their high level of training and experience). The framework of the website is intentionally designed to influence the public perception of wildland fire to better support and align with its necessary ecological role. For this project, I analyzed stories collected during 36 interviews of current and past hotshots, using literary analysis techniques to determine the following: What tropes and schemes do hotshots most commonly use when describing fire in the environment and what meanings and values are revealed through those figures of speech? In addition to identifying tropes and schemes used in the collected stories, I compared the meanings and values put forward by those figures of speech with how the firefighters view the role of fire in the environment. My analysis revealed a disconnect, showing casual use of antagonistic figures of speech to describe wildland fires and firefighting actions; this, despite the interviewees’ actual beliefs about the role of fire in the environment, which indicate an understanding and appreciation of wildland fire, particularly the importance of using fire to restore healthy ecosystems, and a desire to be able to better use fire as a land management tool. To conclude, I discuss how I approached framing and presenting those findings on the website in order to develop a richer, more meaningful conversation around wildland fire through the use of digital storytelling and oral history. The project website can be found at:

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Aldern, Jared
Commitee: Burkhardt, Paul, Sherman, Peter
School: Prescott College
Department: Environmental Studies
School Location: United States -- Arizona
Source: MAI 54/05M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Environmental Studies, Natural Resource Management, History
Keywords: Digital storytelling, Hotshots, Oral history, Personification of nature, Public perception, Wildland fire
Publication Number: 1589895
ISBN: 978-1-321-78399-5
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