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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

How Words Can Form a Landscape: An Analysis of 3 Community Geopoetic Projects of the American Southwest and Their Effects on Participants’ Sense of Place
by Boylan, Abby T., M.S., New Mexico State University, 2020, 89; 28022091
Abstract (Summary)

Public lands of Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico have inspired the creation of 3 community geopoetic projects: Poetic Inventory of Saguaro National Park, Poetic Inventory of Rocky Mountain National Park, and Literary Inventory of Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument. Each of these projects has provided an outlet for writers to share their perceptions of the ecoregions in which the public lands are situated, the species that call these regions home, and the ecological relationships among them. In some cases, participation in the inventories has also led to the development of other projects and has allowed for community-building between contributors. However, current research on whether these specific projects have influenced contributors’ perceptions of and relationships with lands of the national parks/monuments and resident species is limited and requires further investigation. The purpose of this research is to explore the role that community geopoetic projects play in

• engaging local communities in learning more about public lands and their human and non-human species,

• influencing contributors’ ‘sense of place’ in relation to the national park/monument of interest,

• and shifting contributors’ perceptions of the public lands and their species.

To assess the projects’ role in these actions, web-based questionnaires and mobile methods such as walking interviews were used to collect contributors’ stories of their participation in these community geopoetic projects. Responses from the contributors revealed many themes connected to sense of place. For this thesis, the following themes were chosen and discussed: Relationships with place, relationships with species, changed perceptions and new knowledge of place and species, and Indigenous relationships and knowledge.

After analysis and interpretation of the survey results, it was found that such projects do have an impact on many contributors’ perception of the public lands and the species their works of poetry/prose are inspired by, with some reporting a greater feeling of ‘sense of place’ in relation to the public lands the projects centered on. This sense of place was strengthened not only by learning more about the lands and their non-human species, but of fellow Homo sapiens as well. For some, this provided a greater sense of understanding of fellow community members and their relationships with place and species. These results help build on existing research and inform future research in the geohumanities pertaining to sense of place, the use of mobile research methods, and the usefulness of creative geohumanities projects in the wider field of geography.

This thesis also discusses the epistemological tension between what constitutes scientific inquiry and art, and the issue of qualitative vs. quantitative research. This tension underlies the content of this thesis, as it documents part of my journey in understanding geohumanities’ role and the application of creative methods such as geopoetics in the wider field of geography.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Magrane, Eric
Commitee: Campbell, Carol, Banazek, Kerry
School: New Mexico State University
Department: Geography
School Location: United States -- New Mexico
Source: MAI 82/2(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Geography, Social structure, Ecology
Keywords: Geohumanities, Geopoetics, Mobile Research Methods, Sense of Place
Publication Number: 28022091
ISBN: 9798664702101
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