Purdue University Graduate School

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Where There's Smoke: Fire Narratives From the Long American Century

posted on 2023-07-25, 14:06 authored by Ryan SchnurrRyan Schnurr

This project argues that industrial fires have the capacity to illuminate the complex entanglements (political, ecological, economic, etc.) of life in the era of industrial capitalism. It retells and reframes the stories of five such fires, each off which shines a light on the networks of social, political, technological, economic, and ecological relationships in particular communities at particular moments. It thus contributes to the interdisciplinary fields of American Studies and the environmental humanities, furthering our understanding of the unfolding experience of industrial capitalism in the twentieth and twenty-first century United States. It takes the form of a public humanities project and is produced for a popular audience, using journalistic, literary, historical, and other techniques to tell the stories of these fires. In doing so, I also hope to contribute to the expansion of public humanities scholarship and help foster a thriving and creative future for the humanities both in academia and beyond.


Degree Type

  • Doctor of Philosophy


  • American Studies

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Dr. Rayvon Fouché

Additional Committee Member 2

Dr. Shannon McMullen

Additional Committee Member 3

Dr. Sharra Vostral

Additional Committee Member 4

Dr. Rachel Havrelock