Electronic Theses and Dissertations





Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts


Creative Writing

Committee Chair

Kristen Iversen

Committee Member

Charles Hall

Committee Member

Sonja Livingston


Pawling, Colleen Lynnette. MFA. The University of Memphis. August 2014. The Senhora Who Doesn’t Speak Portuguese: Following Francisco de Orellana Across the Amazon Jungle. Major Professor: Dr. Kristen Iversen.In 1542, Francisco de Orellana was swept down the Amazon River on what would become one of the most incredible—and unknown—journeys in history. Nearly half a millennium later, a 52-year-old American lawyer left everything behind to follow Orellana’s trail across the Amazon to see what changes 500 years of western intervention had caused. She discovered three different Amazonias—the first was a land of indigenous peoples torn by conflict with outside forces wanting to exploit the oil that lurked beneath the forest; the second was a remote area almost untouched by the outside world; the third was the mighty Amazon River itself, long since industrialized during the rubber boom and firmly rooted in western culture. Using public transportation and finding shelter as she went, Pawling stayed with local residents and learned the realities of life in modern Amazonia. She witnessed the impacts of the petroleum industry, border disputes, and the rubber boom of the 19th and 20th centuries. She also faced her own limitations as a middle-aged American woman without the strength and energy who once had—not to mention reliable knees. Oh, and there was also that pesky language problem.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

dissertation or thesis originally submitted to the local University of Memphis Electronic Theses & dissertation (ETD) Repository.