ST. GEORGE – On April 10, Dixie State University Associated Professor Theda Wrede released her latest book entitled “Myth and Environment in Recent Southwest Literature.” Wrede’s book challenges the conventions of the mythic West and envisions a new way to promote a healthier relationship between Westerners and their increasingly taxed landscape – through the power of narrative.
“Over and over again, I encountered this tension between a mythic and the ‘real’ Southwest — between the historical perception of the West as an empty expanse in need of conquering and the real-life problems that arise as that type of thinking is paired with urbanization and growth,” Wrede said. “But I propose a solution – a way that both the mythic idea of ‘The West’ and the real-world landscape of the Southwest can find a place in our contemporary conceptions of the region.”
Wrede’s book, published by Lexington Books, is part of a series on ecocritical theory and practice. Wrede said she was first inspired by a visit to the Southwest and that her work has been shaped by experiences living and teaching in Southern Utah for nearly a decade.
The book is divided into five chapters that explore the intersections of the mythic narrative, the environmental challenges the region faces, and ecological consciousness through ecocritical, psychoanalytic, racial, and feminist critical lenses. Wrede focuses on how boundaries can actually become sites of renewal and redemption.
“I establish conceptual connections between literature, ecocriticism, feminist, postcolonial and psychoanalytic theory to understand the role mythic narratives play not only in shaping the Southwest but also in offering environmentally sustainable alternatives,” Wrede said.
Wrede, an associate professor of English at DSU, is the co-editor of the collection of essays ‘The Way We Read James Dickey’. Her works have appeared in Feminist Ecocriticism, Interdisciplinary Humanities, Journal of Contemporary Thought, Rocky Mountain Review, South Atlantic Review, and elsewhere.
Wrede’s latest book “Myth and Environment in Recent Southwest Literature,” can be found through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, as well as various other online retailers.
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