From a cartographer who wrote to a writer who mapped, the literary significance of surveying is revealed in this study of human relationships to the landscape. From the very beginning, American literature was closely intertwined with surveying. In Surveying the Interior, Rick Van Noy explores the ways that four American literary cartographers—Henry David Thoreau, Clarence King, John Wesley Powell, and Wallace Stegner—concerned themselves with what it means to map or survey a place and what it means to write about it. In the process, he helps define the ways by which space enters the human psyche as definable place, as well as the ways by which physical landscape is transmuted into a sense of place as an intimate, personal manifestation of both physical and existential realities.
Rick Van Noy is assistant professor of English at Radford University, where he teaches technical writing, composition, environmental literature, and American literature.