English professor writes book on coal mining’s impact at Marywood


Rachel Looker

English Professor Dr. Bill Conlogue published a book last semester titled “Undermined in Coal Country: On the Measures in a Working Land” last semester that explores the topic of coal mining in the Scranton region and was featured nationally in an article in The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Conlogue said his book focuses on how Marywood University and the Scranton area confronted coal mining in the 19th and 20th centuries.

According to Conlogue, Marywood was an answer to mining in the region because of its environmental history of planting trees and maintaining the landscape during a period of deforestation in the area. He added that Marywood had mine subsidences on campus that were found under the baseball field and in the pit parking lot.

“It’s a book about mining in the region and about mining under campus,” Conlogue said. “It’s about the importance of institutions like Marywood to respond to environmental destruction, which is really what was going on in the valley at the time.”

When the area was falling apart economically because anthracite coal was a dying industry, Marywood dedicated the institution to the community, Conlogue said.

Conlogue, who is from Wayne County, said he had always been interested in the history of Scranton and the university. His grandfather worked for the railroad and his mother was affected by a mine fire in Carbondale.

Chair of the English Department Dr. Erin Sadlack described Conlogue’s work as “engaging and relevant.”

She said she used a passage from his book in her Digital Shakespeare course that started a discussion in the class.

“I think that one of the really fantastic things about Bill’s writing in particular is that he is able to take these really complex ideas and make them accessible,” she said. “I think that’s also really important because it helps people understand that the work that we do in the humanities is really relevant to their lives.”

She encouraged everyone to read Conlogue’s book.

Conlogue said the next topics he is interested in exploring are the ways water shaped anthracite mining and how water is shaping the metro gas drilling industry.

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