AMS / ENV 401
From Wilderness to Environmentalism
Hours: Tuesday, 1:30 - 3:30
Thursday, 1:00 - 3:00
and by appointment
This course investigates American attitudes toward the natural environment from a historical perspective, and analyzes how those attitudes affected the human interaction with the North American continent. Obviously, no single course could do justice to such a broad topic. As a result, we shall analyze topically some of the major themes and issues as a means of drawing broader conclusions about the nature of the American experience.
Course requirements and expectations: Because this is a seminar, the instructor requires that students attend all classes and have read, thoughtfully and critically, the assignments for each meeting. Students will prepare to lead class discussions and present at least one report on a suggested topic in addition to their thoughtful contributions to regularly-scheduled discussions. Class participation is essential, and will count significantly (50%) in the determination of the final grade. Students will also prepare a research paper of 15 pages on some aspect of environmental history or policy, the topic to be chosen in consultation with the instructor. Students will submit a prospectus on Feb. 20, 2009 (5% of final grade), an annotated bibliography on Mar. 13, 2009 (5%), and an outline with introductory paragraphs on Apr. 3, 2009 (5%). Completed papers are due on May 4, 2009 (35% of final grade).
Abbey, Edward. Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness (New York: Touchstone Books, 1968).
Cronin, John, and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., The Riverkeepers: Two Activists Fight to Reclaim Our Environment as a Basic Human Right (New York: Vintage, 1998).
Hiss, Tony. The Experience of Place (New York: Vintage Books, 1989).
Leopold, Aldo. A Sand County Almanac: With Essays on Conservation from Round River (1949; New York: Ballantine Books, 1966).
McKibben, Bill. The End of Nature (New York: Random House, 1989).
Rome, Adam. The Bulldozer in the Countryside: Suburban Sprawl and the Rise of American Environmentalism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001).
Worster, Donald. Dust Bowl: The Southern Plains in the 1930s (New York: Oxford Univesity Press, 1979).
Jan. 22 Introductory Meeting
Discussion of key terms and concepts: please read the Oxford English Dictionary, entries on ecology, environment, environmentalism, and wilderness, and think critically about how the meanings we ascribe to those words has changed over time. Please also read William R. Cronon, "The Trouble With Wilderness: Or, Getting Back to the Wrong Nature," in Out of the Woods: Essays in Environmental History, ed. Char Miller and Hal Rothman (Pittsburgh, 1997), pp. 28-50 and notes pp. 312-14 (or in Cronon, ed., Uncommon Ground: Toward Reinventing Nature (New York, 1995), pp. 69-90).
(rec) Neil Evernden, The Social Construction of Nature (Baltimore, 1992).
(rec) Samuel P. Hays, Explorations in Environmental History (Pittsburgh, 1998).
Jan. 30 Coming to Terms With the Landscape
David Schuyler, The Sanctified Landscape: The Transformation of the Mid-Hudson Valley 1820-1909, chapters
(rec) Phillip Earenfight and Nancy Siegel, eds., Within the Landscape: Essays on Nineteenth-Century American Art and Culture (Carlisle, PA: The Trout Gallery, 2005).
(rec) Barbara Novak, Nature and Culture: American Landscape and Painting 1825-1875, rev. ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995), pp. 157-200.
(rec) Rebecca Bedell, The Anatomy of Nature: Geology and American Landscape Painting, 1825-1875
(Princeton, 2001), pp. 3-45.
(rec) Alan Wallach, "Thomas Cole's River in the Catskills as Antipastoral," Art Bulletin 84 (June 2002): 334-50.
(rec) Angela Miller, The Empire of the Eye: Landscape Representation and American Cultural Politics, 1825- 1875 (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1993).
Feb. 6 Thoreau: Nature and Human Nature
Henry David Thoreau, Walden; Or, Life in the Woods (Boston, 1854), chapters "Economy" and "Where I lived,
and What I Lived For" (12). EDISK
H. D. Thoreau,
Feb. 13 Frederick Law Olmsted and American Environmentalism
Frederick Law Olmsted, "Preliminary Report upon the Yosemite and the Big Tree Grove" [Aug. 1865], in Victoria
Post Ranney et al., Papers of Frederick Law Olmsted, vol. 5: The California Frontier 1863-1865 (Baltimore, 1990), pp. 488-516.
F.L. Olmsted, "Address to [the] Prospect Park Scientific Association"  in Charles E. Beveridge and Carolyn
Hoffman, eds., Papers of Frederick Law Olmsted: Supplementary Series I: Writings on Public Parks,
Parkways, and Park Systems (Baltimore, 1997), pp. 147-57.
F. L. Olmsted, "Public Parks and the Enlargement of Towns," Journal of Social Science 3 (1871): 1-36.
Francis R. Kowsky and Charles E. Beveridge, The Distinctive Charms of Niagara Scenery: Frederick Law Olmsted and the Niagara Reservation (Buffalo, 1985).
Frederick Law Olmsted, "Preservation of Natural Scenery," (Yosemite), Printed broadside, 1890. EDISK. See also my comments on Robert Underwood Johnson, Century, and Yosemite, also on EDISK.
Feb. 20 Nature and Nature-Writing in the Progressive Era
John Burroughs, "The Exhilarations of the Road," in Winter Sunshine (1875), vol. 2 of The Writings of John
Burroughs, Riverby Edition, 23 vols. (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1904-23).
John Burroughs, "Phases of Farm Life," in Signs and Seasons (1886), vol 7 of Writings of John Burroughs.
John Burroughs, "Wild Life About My Cabin," in Far and Near (1901), vol. 11 of Writings of John Burroughs.
John Burroughs, "The Pleasures of a Naturalist," in Under the Maples (1921), vol. 22 of Writings of John Burroughs.
(rec) Samuel P. Hays, Conservation and the Gospel of Efficiency: The Progressive Conservation Movement, 1890-1920 (Cambridge, Mass., 1959).
(rec) Frederick Turner, Rediscovering America: John Muir in His Time and Ours (New York, 1985).
Feb. 27 Environmental Devastation and the Beginnings of Ecology
Benton MacKaye, "An Appalachian Trail: A Project in Regional Planning," Journal of the American Institute of Architects 9 (Oct. 1921): 325-30.
Donald Worster, Dust Bowl: The Southern Plains in the 1930s (New York: Oxford University Press, 1979).
Screening of The Plow That Broke The Plains.
(rec) Benton MacKaye, The New Exploration: A Philosophy of Regional Planning (1928; reprint ed., Urbana- Champaign, 1990).
Mar. 6 Toward an Ethical Appreciation of the Land
Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac: With Essays on Conservation from Round River (1949; New York, 1966), pp. 3-98, 177-295.
(rec) Phoebe Cutler, The Public Landscape of the New Deal (New Haven, 1985).
(rec) Ethan Carr, Wilderness by Design: Landscape Architecture & the National Park Service (Lincoln, 1998).
(rec) Linda Flint McClelland, Building the National Parks: Historic Landscape Design and Construction (Baltimore, 1998).
Mar. 12 Environmentalism as a Political Act
Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness (New York, 1968).
(rec) James Bishop, Epitaph for a Desert Anarchist: The Life and Legacy of Edward Abbey (New York: Athenaeum, 1995).
Mar. 27 The Last Landscape
Adam Rome, The Bulldozer in the Countryside: Suburban Sprawl and the Rise of American Environmentalism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001), pp. 1-43, 87-270.
(rec) Adam W. Rome, "William Whyte, Open Space, and Environmental Activism," Geographical Review 88 (April 1998): 259-74.
Apr. 3 Whatever Happened to Nature
Bill McKibben, The End of Nature (New York, 1989).
Apr. 10 Fighting Back
John Cronin and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., The Riverkeepers: Two Activists Fight to Reclaim Our Environment as a Basic Human Right (New York, 1998).
Elizabeth Kolbert, "The River," New Yorker, Dec. 4, 2000, pp. 56-62.
(rec) Robert H. Boyle, The Hudson River: A Natural and Unnatural History (New York, 1969).
(rec) Richard White, The Organic Machine: The Remaking of the Columbia River (New York: Hill & Wang, 1995).
Apr. 17 Landscape and Change: Shaping the Future
Tony Hiss, The Experience of Place (New York, 1989).
(rec) Thomas R. Daniels, "Integrated Working Landscape Protection: The Case of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania," Society & Natural Resources 13 (2000): 261-71
(rec) Thomas Daniels, Where City and Country Collide: Managing Growth in the Metropolitan Fringe (Washington, 1998).
Apr. 24 Field Trip to examine environmental isssues affecting Lancaster County
John Hostetler, "Toward Responsible Growth and Stewardship of Lancaster County's Landscape." Pennsylvania Mennonite Heritage 12 (July 1989): 2-10.
May 4 Papers due.