Date of Thesis

Spring 2019

Thesis Type

Honors Thesis (Bucknell Access Only)

Degree Type

Bachelor of Arts

Major

Geography

First Advisor

Ben Marsh

Second Advisor

Vanessa Massaro

Keywords

place, Ellicott City, floods

Abstract

In my thesis, I seek to understand how floods, or other disasters, are agents of place-making. I analyze how the 1972 flood caused by Tropical Storm Agnes aided in the creation of “Old” Ellicott City. I argue that the flood helped white, wealthy individuals to actualize their idealized vision of Ellicott City that centered on a nostalgic desire to regain the lost glory of the colonial mill town. This desire derived from and played into white upper-class notions of simple and small-town living. These ideals, and the landscape which they demanded, appealed to alienated suburbanites who longed to feel belonging and connectedness in a neoliberal world. The flood helped them actualize this vision through institutional and communal support in the wake of the successful Ellicott City Bicentennial Celebration, which coincided with the flood. Ultimately, I argue that, despite their destructive potential, floods create and perpetuate the social and symbolic reproduction of Ellicott City.

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