Undermined in Coal Country: On the Measures in a Working Land
Deep mining ended decades ago in Pennsylvania’s Lackawanna Valley. The barons who made their fortunes have moved on. Low wages and high unemployment haunt the area, and the people left behind wonder whether to stay or seek their fortunes elsewhere.
Undermined in Coal Country explores how two overlapping coal country landscapes—Scranton, Pennsylvania, and Marywood University—have coped with the devastating aftermath of mining. Examining the far-reaching environmental effects of mining, this beautifully written book asks bigger questions about what it means to influence a landscape to this extent—and then to live in it. In prose rivaling that of Annie Dillard and John McPhee, Conlogue argues that, if we are serious about solving environmental problems, if we are serious about knowing where we are and what happens there, we need to attend closely to all places—that is, to attend to the world in a cold, dark, and disorienting universe. Unearthing new ways of thinking about place, pedagogy, and the environment, this meditative text reveals that place is inherently unstable.
Bill Conlogue is a professor of English at Marywood University. He is the author of Working the Garden: American Writers and the Industrialization of Agriculture and Here and There: Reading Pennsylvania’s Working Landscapes.