Deep Map Country


Deep Map Country

Literary Cartography of the Great Plains

Susan Naramore Maher

256 pages


May 2014


$45.00 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

May 2014


$45.00 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

May 2014


$45.00 Add to Cart

About the Book

Taking its name from the subtitle of William Least Heat-Moon’s PrairyErth (a deep map), the “deep-map” form of nonfiction and environmental writing defines an innovative and stratigraphic literary genre. Proposing that its roots can be found in Great Plains nonfiction writing, Susan Naramore Maher explores the many facets of this vital form of critique, exploration, and celebration that weaves together such elements of narrative as natural history, cultural history, geography, memoir, and intertextuality.
Maher’s Deep Map Country gives readers the first book-length study of the deep-map nonfiction of the Great Plains region, featuring writers as diverse as Julene Bair, Sharon Butala, Loren Eiseley, Don Gayton, Linda Hasselstrom, William Least Heat-Moon, John Janovy Jr., John McPhee, Kathleen Norris, and Wallace Stegner. Deep Map Country examines the many layers of storytelling woven into their essays: the deep time of geology and evolutionary biology; the cultural history of indigenous and settlement communities; the personal stories of encounters with this expansive terrain; the political and industrial stories that have affected the original biome and Plains economies; and the spiritual dimensions of the physical environment that press on everyday realities.

Author Bio

Susan Naramore Maher is dean of the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Minnesota, Duluth. She is coeditor of Artifacts and Illuminations: Critical Essays on Loren Eiseley (Nebraska, 2012) and Coming into McPhee Country: John McPhee and the Art of Literary Nonfiction.


"While Deep Map Country offers an important contribution to the growing body of work focused on the literature of the Great Plains, it also provides a kind of template for future ecocritical explorations of other deeply mapped bioregions."—Matthew Cella, Cultural Geographies

"If deep mapping is a sensibility more than anything else, Maher does an excellent job of taking that sensibility off the pages of others and using it to shape her own."—Kent C. Ryden, Journal of American Studies

"Maher’s study is a significant contribution to narrative theory and criticism, as well as to literary geography, but Deep Map Country ought to be especially valuable to anyone interested in the contemporary West, its history, and its future."—Robert T. Tally Jr., Western American Literature

"Susan Naramore Maher's Deep Map Country provides a seminal, expansive study of major nonfiction authors whose work grows out of and into the Great Plains, intersecting with its history, biology, sociology, temporality, and spirituality."—Gary Dop, Great Plains Quarterly

"Literary cartography seeks to express, explore, accentuate, and add dimensionality to places that often seem blank or empty on maps, and featureless to newcomers. Maher's study of this genre's imprint on the region, Deep Map Country: Literary Cartography on the Great Plains, is an essential synthesis to a body of work that transcends and frequently ignores disciplinary, cultural, and national boundaries."—Matthew S. Luckett, Middle West Review

Deep Map Country will become the standard to which other interdisciplinary and ‘thick’ discussions of Great Plains works will be compared.”—Diane Quantic, author of The Nature of the Place: A Study of Great Plains Fiction


“What Maher describes is both a literary aesthetic and an ethos, and she chronicles a significant development in the literary culture of Plains writers.”—Rick Van Noy, author of Surveying the Interior: Literary Cartographers and the Sense of Place

Table of Contents

1. Deep Mapping the Great Plains: Surveying the Literary Cartography of Place
2. Deep Mapping History: Wallace Stegner's Wolf Willow and William Least Heat-Moon's PrairyErth: (a deep map)
3. Deep Mapping the Biome: The Biology of Place in Don Gayton's The Wheatgrass Mechanism, John Janovy Jr.'s Dunwoody Pond, and Wes Jackson's Becoming Native to This Place
4. Deep Mapping Dimensions: Excavating Time and Space in Loren Eiseley's The Immense Journey and John McPhee's Rising from the Plains
5. Deep Mapping Lived Space: "Layers of Presence" in Julene Bair's One Degree West, Sharon Butala's Wild Stone Heart, and Linda Hasselstrom's Feels Like Far
6. Coda: Spiritual Deep Mapping and Great Plains Vernacular

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