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Steven Hoelscher, Chair Burdine 437, Mailcode B7100, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-7277

Spring 2010

AMS 390 • Constructing the American Landscape

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
29880 T
2:00 PM-5:00 PM
BUR 436B

Course Description

Few concepts offer more direct insight into the construction of, and frequent conflict over, group and personal identity than landscape. More than simply a pleasing view of scenery, landscape denotes the interaction of people and placeĀ—a social group and its spaces, particularly the spaces to which the group belongs and from which its members derive some part of their shared identity and meaning. In this graduate seminar, we will unpack the variety of meanings of landscape from two distinct, but mutually reinforcing, perspectives: the landscape that we usually associate with environment; and the idea or representation of landscape. People, working in different places and under constraints of social class, race, gender, and political ideology, create distinctive landscapes that reflect these social divisions. Likewise, and often for rather different reasons, people choose to produce representations of those landscapes in art and literature, and at historic sites and monuments. Specific themes, among others, include: the role of the artist and writer in defining the idea of landscape, the commodification of nature and landscape, landscapes of violence and tragedy, environmental conservation, spaces of modernity, urban planning and design, and landscapes of resistance and power.

This course will be conducted as seminar with open discussion of the assigned readings and other course materials. I expect that students will come to class well prepared to present and respond to discussion questions and ideas about the readings. Please note now that this course will include a field trip to the Alamo and San Antonio.


(Please note that this is a sampling of the kinds of materials we will read in this class, and not the final reading list)
John Brinkerhoff Jackson, Landscape in Sight: Looking at America
Denis Cosgrove, Geography and Vision: Seeing, Imaging, and Representing the World
Daphne Spain, How Women Saved the City
Don Mitchell, The Lie of the Land: Migrant Workers and the California Landscape
James S. Duncan and Nancy G. Duncan, Landscapes of Privilege: The Politics of Aesthetic in an American Suburb
Richard Schein, ed., Race and Landscape in the United States
Owen J. Dwyer and Derek H. Alderman, Civil Rights Memorials and the Geography of Memory
W.G. Sebald, On the Natural History of Destruction
Paul Virillio, Bunker Archaeology
Patricia Price, Dry Place: Landscapes of Belonging and Exclusion


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