An Analysis of Socioeconomics and Education in American Literature: The Impact of Geography on Education

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Lawless, Jacquelyn
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The purpose of this essay is to show the impact that unjust geographies have on socioeconomics and education through a closer examination of the landscape, domestic space, and social structure in each novel. This essay will apply Julia Kristeva’s abjection theory from Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection to the novels Child of God by Cormac McCarthy and My Antonia by Willa Cather. The historical oppression of women in the Appalachian region will also be examined along with the lack of education and economic opportunities for women in this region in application to Cormac McCarthy’s Child of God. The historical violence towards women in the domestic space will also be analyzed through Lester Ballard’s character in Child of God. Topophrenia theory and spatial justice theory will also be utilized to show the impact the landscape has on an individual’s socioeconomic status and education in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain and My Antonia by Will Cather. W.E.B. Du Bois’ double consciousness theory will also be analyzed to show the impact that education and geography had on both Jim and Huck in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Mark Twain’s brand management and public persona will also be examined through the ways that Twain’s brand management is reflected through his character Dauphin’s social mobility and greed. Robert T. Tally Jr.’s book Topophrenia: Space, Place, and Narrative will also be used to explore the role that the rural landscape has over Antonia’s education and socioeconomic status My Antonia. Tally’s topophrenia theory will also be used to explore the impact that the river and landscape have on Huck and Jim’s education in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Edward W. Soja’s spatial justice theory from Seeking Spatial Justice will also be used to analyze the unjust geographies present in both rural Nebraska in My Antonia, and in the American south in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. KEY WORDS: Appalachia, Spatial Justice, Topophrenia, Abjection, Double Consciousness, Socioeconomics, Education, Landscape, Appalachian women
Creighton University
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