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Undermined in Coal Country

On the Measures in a Working Land

Bill Conlogue

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Living in a landscape dominated by mining.

Deep mining ended decades ago in Pennsylvania’s Lackawanna Valley. The barons who made their fortunes have moved on. Low wages and high unemployment haunt the area, and the people left behind wonder whether to stay or seek their fortunes elsewhere.

Bill Conlogue explores how two overlapping coal country landscapes—Scranton, Pennsylvania, and Marywood University—have coped with the devastating aftermath of mining. Examining the far-reaching environmental effects of mining, this beautifully written book asks bigger questions about what it means to…

Living in a landscape dominated by mining.

Deep mining ended decades ago in Pennsylvania’s Lackawanna Valley. The barons who made their fortunes have moved on. Low wages and high unemployment haunt the area, and the people left behind wonder whether to stay or seek their fortunes elsewhere.

Bill Conlogue explores how two overlapping coal country landscapes—Scranton, Pennsylvania, and Marywood University—have coped with the devastating aftermath of mining. Examining the far-reaching environmental effects of mining, this beautifully written book asks bigger questions about what it means to influence a landscape to this extent—and then to live in it. In prose rivaling that of Annie Dillard and John McPhee, Conlogue argues that, if we are serious about solving environmental problems, if we are serious about knowing where we are and what happens there, we need to attend closely to all places—that is, to attend to the world in a cold, dark, and disorienting universe. Unearthing new ways of thinking about place, pedagogy, and the environment, this meditative text reveals that place is inherently unstable.

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Undermined in Coal Country

Bill Conlogue

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Reviews

As much as by chronology or theme, his book proceeds via metaphors, myths, and the literature he reads, studies, and teaches. He works such motifs as the "undermining" of his title and the "measures" of his subtitle — a reference to seams of anthracite — to consider what the region’s history of mining reveals about human folly and endeavor.

Surrounded by anti-intellectualism, poverty, and the environmental degradation that inevitably attended the burst of extractive capitalism that swept through and then abandoned so much of the United States, Conlogue articulately makes a calm but passionate plea for keeping the humanities central to a curriculum that legislators and college administrators relentlessly want to divert toward vocationalism.

In the Scranton area, history is buried literally and figuratively. The remnants of a once vibrant coal industry lurk underground; the sweep of time has effaced a legacy of environmental damage and social turmoil. Bill Conlogue's insightful book masterfully takes stock of transformations in the region's present by uncovering much of its forgotten past.

In Undermined in Coal Country, Bill Conlogue has achieved a heart-rending expose of the damage done heedless mining practices and greed to his hometown and the whole of coal country and a powerful metaphor of the human condition with the hope that studies of the arts and humanities may offer.

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About

Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
6
x
9
Pages
240
ISBN
9781421423180
Illustration Description
19 b&w photos, 2 maps
Table of Contents

Preface
Acknowledgments
Timeline
1. Campus as Question
2. Wood
3. Fire
4. In the Gaps
5. Body Language
6. On Broken Ground
7. Burying Books
Conclusion
Works Cited
Index

Author Bio
Bill Conlogue
Featured Contributor

Bill Conlogue

Bill Conlogue is a professor of English at Marywood University. He is the author of Working the Garden: American Writers and the Industrialization of Agriculture and Here and There: Reading Pennsylvania's Working Landscapes.