Year of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Campus Access Only

Degree Type

Master of Science (MS)

Degree Name

Environmental Studies

Department or School/College

Environmental Studies Program

Committee Chair

Phil Condon

Commitee Members

David Moore, Robin Saha


avulsion, cinnabar, clovis, frontier, hungry water, invitational animism, larch, latent destiny, manifest destiny, manifest reversal, Pete Aguereberry, queer, queer ecology, rat, sovereignty, temporal contract


University of Montana


Frontierism as asserted in the policies of Manifest Destiny, and nurtured within subsequent U.S. expansion and global aggression, remains a vital force in dominant U.S. environmental writing and environmental politics, even as locatable frontiers shift, turn inward, or abstract themselves. All territory is finite, and any expansionism on finite ground is inherently unsustainable. Psychological analogy suggests that latent counterparts to the manifest—latent destinies—capable of disrupting Manifest Destiny trail alongside it. These will be unanticipated, unrecognized, and in parts opposite in their tendencies, and they can be awakened or triggered. To this end, Wash Out sets up experimental frameworks for teasing out these elusive latents. Pieces collected here work variously on and within historical imagination, philosophical imagination, poetics, political theory, radical activism, Americana, science fiction, romance, erotics, and scientific writing. “Latent Destiny, Manifest Reversal: Journal Excerpts from the Clovis and Larch Expedition” explores the shadow-sides of Manifest Destiny through the consideration of a counter-venture to the notorious Lewis and Clark Expedition. “Simon and Me, Talking to Birds” proposes a literary criticism that coincides with creative generation and that relies crucially on patterning itself in response to the work considered. “Prospecting Death Valley” takes the minor Americana icon Pete Aguerreberry, a real-life Basque gold miner in Death Valley, and explores latent possibilities in the mining era’s mythologies. An epilogue presents a practical outgrowth of the work: a case study examining both rainwater harvesting possibilities for Winnemem Wintu tribal land, and sociopolitical possibilities of transforming dominant water culture from below with the help of open-source ecological data analysis tools. Restoration in the wake of Manifest Destiny must invent futures and forge the possibilities for them, must address cultures as well as ecologies, must unite theory, practice, and reflection. This restoration will depend on fabrication of voices as well as their recovery, on continued proposals of what doesn’t exist, and on assembly of apparatuses for experimental vision from utopic and dystopic lenses.

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© Copyright 2010 July Oskar Cole