Dream a Little

Writing with a novelist’s sensitivity toward language, Kocks explores the idea that Americans have historically looked to the land for answers to society’s problems. To illustrate this point, she shows that the frontier state with its homestead program was actually the predecessor of the modern welfare state. Instead of money, the federal government gave away land.

“A rich, visionary exploration.” —Choice

“Uncommonly graceful narrative.” —Rethinking History

“This is risky history – deeply personal, passionately political.” —Virginia Scharff, University of New Mexico

More Reviews:

This is quite literally an earthshaking book, for after you read it you will not be able to look at the very ground you are standing on in quite the same way. Dorothee Kocks looks at the moral and social values we project onto nature, not so much to debunk the myths as to plumb them for new meaning. This is an elegant book, intellectually rigorous, morally poised, and so beautifully written I found myself wanting to quote line after line.”

–Teresa Jordan

Dorothee Kocks has produced a provocative book. [It] doesn’t fit easily into any one genre but rather extends the discussion of Americans’ uneasy relationship with land and myth that critics such as Annette Kolodny, Richard Slotkin, and Krista Comer have begun… She believes that interacting with both culture and landscape requires a personal experience as well as intellectual truth (xix). Dream a Little provides both.”

–Barbara Cook, Isle: Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment, Winter 2002

This is history that does not compromise. It is history as activism, prompting the reader to rethink preconceptions—not just about the way we think about land, which is certainly useful in comparing the way land has been and is thought about in Australia—but also about the role and function of history itself.”

–Amanda Laugeson, Limina, Vol. 7, 2001

In Dream a Little…, Dorothee Kocks draws upon capacious skill as a writer, historian and literary critic to examine the relationship between place and politics in the American West…. [She] pioneers an innovative approach whereby history, literature, personal reminiscence and geography are blended together in an engaging and thought-provoking amalgam. The author’s decision to relate her personal history alongside that of her central characters, borne from her perception that ‘it is impossible to view landscapes neutrally; it is misleading to talk of cultures as if one were an outside observer’ (p. 197), is absorbing and original.”

–Karen Jones, Environment and History,
Vol. 8, 2002, p. 118-120

Dream a Little offers readers new ways of looking at the American West, its literature, and their own ideas.”

–Betsey Downey, Great Plains Quarterly,
Spring 2002