Gina Caison

Junior Core Fellow
Period of Stay: 
October 2020 - June 2021
Georgia State University, the USA
Project Title: 
Erosion: American Literature & the Anxiety of Disappearance
Project Abstract: 

Erosion: American Literature & the Anxiety of Disappearance examines the evolving cultural engagement with narratives of erosion. It draws from methods in Critical Indigenous Studies to reveal how pervasively settler colonial logic undergirds contemporary discourses of climate change in the United States. By aligning work from geological sciences with literary texts about specific geographic areas including California, Oklahoma, Georgia, Louisiana, the Chesapeake Bay, and the North Carolina Outer Banks, this project illuminates the links between the lived concerns about erosion and theoretical investments in an erosive America, as it shifts from pre-colonial to post-climate apocalypse contexts. This work contributes to an understanding of how narrative construction shapes our understanding of planetary crises. In many ways, narrative allows humans to experience the necessary affective investment required for action. Alternately, narrative also limits our possible responses as well-worn assumptions of declension narratives involving settler colonialism and lost cause-ism map all too easily onto stories about the demise of the earth. My project pulls threads from the humanities and earth sciences together to demonstrate that how we talk about the dirt matters for how we regard our role as a human species on the planet.