Narrating the Contested Space of Detroit's River Rouge, 1600-2015

David E. Nye

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The River Rouge, which flows through Michigan into the Great Lakes at Detroit, has been a contested space, from the Mound Builders c. 1100 AD to the present. The river's changing uses and meanings provide a microcosm of North American history, including Native Americans, French fur traders, the British, American settlers, small-scale industries, and Henry Ford's largest factory. Narratives treat the river as a landscape, as a highway, as a natural resource, as raw material, as a minor detail, or as a threatened environment. The river has been part of a romantic view of pre-history, a heroic story of colonial conquest, a tale of democratic expansion into new land, an exemplary second creation in which unfinished nature is transformed into the world's largest factory, a narrative of class warfare between workers and capitalists, a tale of the triumph of democracy over National Socialism in World War II, a tragic story of the exploitation of nature, and a recovery narrative in which the river is rescued from pollution and misuse.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)27-41
Number of pages15
JournalZeitschrift fur Anglistik und Amerikanistik
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 by De Gruyter.


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