Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name

English (Literature)

Department or School/College

Department of English

Committee Chair

David Moore

Commitee Members

Nancy Cook, Sarah Halvorson


All But the Waltz, American West, Breaking Clean, Homestead Act, Judy Blunt, Mary Clearman Blew, Montana, Ranching, Western Women


University of Montana


Mary Clearman Blew and Judy Blunt are contemporary women writers of the American West. Both women grew up on ranches in Montana but left in adulthood. Despite leaving, each woman maintains significant intellectual and emotional connections to the land and culture of her youth in her writing. Blew's memoir All But the Waltz and Blunt’s memoir Breaking Clean reveal a friction between dependency on the land and necessary distancing from it that presents the opportunity to employ geographical analysis to the ways in which place figures into the production of identity and of these texts. In this paper, I seek to understand the tension between attachment to place and rejection of it. Humanist geography provides a framework for understanding this tension in Blew’s and Blunt’s memoirs. Specifically, landscape theories and feminist critical perspectives serve as methodologies to understand the construction of hegemonic places, and can elucidate women’s use of space to assert themselves in cultures where they had previously been prevented from doing so. This project brings to the fore ways women can make themselves visible from within a history that has sought to hide them, that of the American West. Through writing Blew and Blunt validate the feminine subject as a creator of knowledge; they also contribute their unique voices to the history of the American West, thus enriching and deepening its purview. Additionally, the interdisciplinary nature of this project demonstrates the use value of literature to the understanding of space and place in a humanist geography context.



© Copyright 2011 Elizabeth Anne Boeheim