AMS 390 • Constructing the American Landscape
2:00 PM-5:00 PM
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 place-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.
TENTATIVE READING LIST (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, Social Formation and Symbolic Landscape Paul Groth, Living Downtown: The History of Residential Hotels in the United States Don Mitchell, The Lie of the Land: Migrant Workers and the California Landscape Robert W. Righter, The Battle over Hetch Hetchy: America's Most Controversial Dam and the Birth of Modern Environmentalism David Harvey, Paris: Capital of Modernity Anglea Miller, Empire of the Eye: Landscape Representation and American Cultural Politics, 1825-1875 James S. Duncan and Nancy G. Duncan, Landscapes of Privilege: The Politics of Aesthetic in an American Suburb Kirk Savage, Standing Soldiers, Kneeling Slaves: Race, War, and Monument in Nineteenth-Century America Dolores Hayden, A Field Guide to Sprawl