Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

William Hardwig

Committee Members

Ben Lee, Lisi Schoenbach, Derek Alderman


This dissertation aims to forward critical thinking about place, ecology and literature. By analyzing examples from four major U.S. bioregions (the Prairie, the Southwest Desert, the Marine Rainforests of the Northwest, and Appalachia), this dissertation argues for a new consideration of virtue ethics conceived as bioregional ethics as a means to attain sustainability as imagined by literary representations of place. This dissertation is divided into an introduction and four chapters. The introduction outlines a discussion of virtue ethics as drawn from historical and religious tradition; it also surveys significant statements in ecocriticism and the newer discourse of bioregionalism as means of drawing together the three areas in which this project hopes to intervene: ethics, literary criticism, and bioregional thinking. The four chapters consider works by Willa Cather and O. E. Rølvaag (Chapter I), Cormac McCarthy and Leslie Marmon Silko (Chapter II), Ken Kesey (Chapter III), and James Still and Ann Pancake (Chapter IV).

Available for download on Friday, May 15, 2026

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