Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Wayne Koestenbaum

Committee Members

Amber Jamilla Musser

Amy Wan

Roberto Tejada

Subject Categories

American Literature | Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies | Literature in English, North America | Literature in English, North America, Ethnic and Cultural Minority | Philosophy of Language | Poetry


American Southwest, Poetry, North American Poetry, Poetics, Nuclear Literature, Settler Colonialism


This dissertation investigates “affiliation” as a socio-spatial poetics and spatial ontology, a departure from the past and future to the material, landed present. The author’s experience growing up proximate to federally ordered uranium mining and nuclear weapons research on Indigenous land and at Los Alamos National Labs drives this work’s aim to render visible the economic, social, and ideological structures governing social-spatial dynamics in the North American context. This dissertation argues for a poetics of affiliation as a methodology, to move beyond theoretical and discursive questions in scholarship to negotiations of the social at scales that affect systems beyond the human. Responding to calls by scholars for a move away from “damage-centered” research, this work destabilizes the notion of subordinate and dominant cultures by highlighting the insurgent presence of queer life, Indigenous and Afro-futurisms, and material studies in poetry that address constructions of space. “There’s No Space in History: Affiliation, Eros & Colonial Entanglements in North American Nuclear Poetry 1945-Present” critiques the field of English and Literary Studies’ allegiance to settler epistemologies and argues for the need for interdisciplinary scholarship, emergent thought, and radical pedagogy. The dissertation contributes to the revival of Nuclear Studies and addresses the limitations of nuclear criticism, emphasizing the critical intersections of geopolitics, ecology, poetics and philosophy in compiling histories attendant to concerns of space and place.

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