HIS 350L • Topic 4 Envir History of North America-W
3:00 PM-6:00 PM
Americans have a peculiar relationship to the world around them. Many of us work, play, shape, use, and invest in our environment; while at the same time we draw, photograph, and write about nature. But every time a person steps foot out of their front door, they understand the outside world and all those activities in it, in unique and individual ways. The timber company executive has a different view of nature than the loggers who cut the trees; the advertising firm that prints the REI catalogue thinks about wilderness differently than the people who hike, bike, and camp in it. Those are just the easy ones. Think about how Midwestern farmers, New York apartment dwellers, Texas cattle ranchers, and Jackson Hole ski bums feel about nature, and pretty soon you will begin to understand the wide variety of responses we Americans have to the world around us.
In this course, we will look at three major themes in Environmental History. First, what are natural spaces, so called wilderness areas? What does it mean to go camping in the wilderness? Where does civilization end and wilderness begin? What makes a natural space? How have Americans thought about and portrayed wilderness? Second, we will look at what we understand to be civilized places such as cities, suburbs, and other supposedly human environments. In this section, we will examine how Americans have created human landscapes, and how those places have played a role in American history over time. Finally, we will read and talk about the living world. How and why have humans manipulated plants and animals over time? What role have these same organisms played in our own history; how have they manipulated us?
Weekly Comments 20% Class Participation 15% Review Essay (5-7 pages) 30% Personal Environmental History (12-15 pages) 35%
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