Author Information

Kirsten Ridlen


I grew up in New England. Mansfield, more specifically: a suburb of the Boston Metro area. My only sense of regionalism while I was growing up came from the knowledge that the leaves change with the seasons, and that the Pilgrims anchored themselves here four centuries ago. I don’t know much about my genealogy except that my paternal grandfather came up from Illinois to marry Pattie Shea, so my name, at least, has traveled. But the other seventy-five percent of me, for all I do know, has been here forever. I am a New Englander. I’ve never been anything else.

According to Howard Odum and Harry Estill Moore, a region is “an area within which the combination of environmental and demographic factors have created homogeneity of economic and social structure” (Odum and Estill). In this vast American landscape, many people come to understand and sometimes define themselves within the context of their regional borders. Perhaps still reeling from Ellis Island shakeups or feeling insufficiently established within the “New World,” Americans seem particularly concerned with placing themselves, in proving that they belong someplace.

Note on the Author

Kirsten Ridlen is a senior at Bridgewater State University, currently working on a bachelor’s degree in English. This research began in 2013 as part of the Adrian Tinsley Program Summer Grant under the direction of Dr. Lee Torda (English). She presented this research at the 2014 National Conference on Undergraduate Research in Lexington, KY. This piece is part of a growing body of work that deals with Place Writing within the Creative Nonfiction genre.

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