History 4490 (3388)

Major Themes in Environmental History

Spring 2012

 

Reading & Class Questions

Readings (in order of appearance):

·       Jared Diamond, Collapse (Norton, 2005) Chs. 6,7&8.

·       John McPhee, “Atchafalaya” in The Control of Nature (Farrar, 1990).

·        Gilbert White, The Natural History of Shelburne (no copyright; first pub.1787) letters 1-10.

·       David Thoreau, “Walking” (no copyright, first pub. 1862)

·       Roderick Nash, Wilderness and the American Mind, (Yale, 2001)

·       William Cronon, Changes in the Land (Hill and Wang, 2003).

·       Harriet Ritvo, The Dawn of Green: Manchester, Thirlmere, and Modern Environmentalism (Chicago, 2009).

·       Donald Worster, Nature’s Economy: A History of Ecological Ideas (2nd ed. Cambridge, 1994).

·       Mark H. Lyle, The Gentle Subversive: Rachel Carson, Silent Spring, and the Rise of the Environmental Movement (Oxford, 2007).

·       Elizabeth Economy, The River Runs Black: The Environmental Challenge to China’s Future (2nd ed. Cornell, 2010).

Cl. #

Date

 Topic

Assignment

1

1/9

 Introduction and the Big History Framework

David Christian (18 minute Big Hist)

·       What is Big History and how does it relate to Environmental History?

·       What does Christian mean by Goldilocks conditions?  What are the circumstances in which these have applied in the course of Big History?

 

2

1/11

Goldilocks in Greenland?

Google: “Environmental Determinism”

Diamond, Ch. 6 Skim, note map pp182-3. Read Chs. 7-8 . See GAView "Readings" folder.

 

 

·       Which Norwegian farming and animal husbandry customs transferred well to Greenland and which did not?

·       Why did the Norse not adopt the customs of the Inuit?

·       Based on this reading, do you think Jared Diamond is an economic determinist?

·       What is the difference between what Diamond calls “proximate reasons” and “ultimate reasons?”

·       What is a mono-causal explanation?

 

 

1/16

MLK DAY – NO CLASS

 

3

1/18

Water Control, Old and New

McPhee, “Atchafalaya” (entire). See GAView "Readings" folder.

·       What is the relationship of the Red and Mississippi Rivers and the Atchafalay?

·       What has been the consequence for the bayou and swamp country of the Corp’ control of the Mississippi?

·       What does McPhee mean when he speaks of the Atchafalaya “capturing the Mississippi?

·       Compare the relationship with nature the Norse and the Inuits in Greenland had with that described in “Atchafalaya.”

 

 

4

1/23

Gilbert White, The Arcadian Village

White, “Selborne” poems + letters 1-11

Note to Students:  Do not worry about the poems; we will cover them a bit in class. Start with White’s advertisement on p. 4, then read the prose to get a sense of Selborne and White’s way of looking at it.  And use Google Earth….

 

Questions:

·       Why does White write; what is his aim?

·       Is White interested in nature itself or human interaction with nature?

·       What happened to the Raven Tree – and the raven in it?

·       What happened to the deer in the Royal Forest of Wolmer?  Why were they not replenished?

·       What evidence is there that Gilbert White thought of himself as an amateur scientist?

·       Who was Linnaeus?

 

 

 

5

1/25

Thoreau, Civilization and the Nature

Thoreau, “Walking” (entire)

·       What is it that Thoreau likes about walking?

·       In what sense is Spaulding farm a Holy Land?

·       Why, according to Thoreau, is wilderness better then civilization?

·       Why, according to Thoreau, is beauty better than knowledge?

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Katahdin

 

6

1/30

The Wilderness and the Other

Nash, Prologue, Chs. 1 & 2

See GAView "Readings" folder.

·       Many Americans today see a pristine wilderness as a kind of paradise.  Would people in Old World ancient and classical cultures have agreed? Be able to discuss two examples to illustrate your answer.

·       Were pioneering Americans on the whole more enthusiastic about wilderness than people in ancient and classical cultures?  Than contemporary European?  Be prepared to discuss two examples to illustrate your answers to these questions.

·       Research Jay Appleton’s “Refuge and Prospect Theory” on the internet.  Be able to explain the basic idea of the theory, and to discuss how it might apply to your answers to the previous questions.

 

 

 

7

2/1

The Wilderness and Romanticism

Nash, Chs. 3,4,5

 

Nota bene: Read carefully and take notes on pp. 44-50.  You will be asked about this material in class and on the first exam.

 

·       Research Jay Appleton’s “Refuge and Prospect Theory” on the internet.  Be able to explain the basic idea of the theory, and to discuss how may help to explain human’s enthusiasm for “nature” in some forms, but not others.

·       What is Deism and how did its view of nature influence the perception of the wilderness in the late 18th and early 19th centuries?

·       What is transcendentalism and how did it’s view of nature influence the American perception of the wilderness in second quarter of the 19th century?

·       According to Nash, how did the trip to Maine influence Thoreau’s primativist views?

 

 

8

2/6

Origins of the Wilderness Cult

Nash, Chs. 6,7,8,9

·       Compare George Perkins Marsh’ arguments for wilderness preservation with Thoreau.  Were the two arguments mutually exclusive?

·       What were the different initial rationales for the preserving Yellowstone and the Adirondacks.  How did the rationale for the two gradually converge?

·       What were the main influences on John Muir and what were his most important contributions?

·       What was the basis for Muir’s differences with Gifford Pinchot?

·       What, according to Nash were the three main components of the wilderness cult that emerged by 1910?

 

 

9

2/8

Second thoughts on Thoreau

Conon, Ch.1 (read reflectively)

·       How does Cronon’s view of the human-environment relationship differ from Thoreau’s?

·       How according to Cronon did the environmentalists understanding of the concept of an “ecosystem” change during the course of the 20th century?  Do you see a relationship between that change and the notion of Big History we discussed the first day of class?

 

10

2/13

Wilderness Exam

 

11

2/15

The Environmental History Archive Project (EHAP)  click here

Explore EHAP “KSU Campus” site

12

2/20

New England in a “State of Nature” ?

Conon, Chs. 2 & 3

 

 

 

13

2/22

New England “after the Fall”

Cronon, Chs. 4,5,6

 

 

 

14

2/27

From Wilderness to Natural Resource

Cronon, Chs. 7,8

Spring Break              March 3 – 11                 Spring Break

 

15

3/12

Last Day to Withdraw

without an “F”

EHAP Projects

 

Environmental History Article Review Due

 

16

3/14

Mancunian desire and the first tree huggers

Ritvo, Chs. 1-2

 

 

 

17

3/19

Mancunian desire and the first tree huggers

Ritvo, Chs. 3-4

 

 

 

18

3/21

The Harvest of Thirlmere

Ritvo, Ch. 5

 

 

 

19

3/26

Darwin and the Science of Ecology

Worster, chs. 6-9; esp ch.9

 

 

 

20

3/28

Clements and the Climax Community

Worster, chs. 10-11

 

 

 

21

4/2

The Dust Bowl and the Value Varmints

Worster, ch. 12-13

 

 

 

22

4/4

The New Ecology and the Loss of Arcadia

Worster, ch. 14

 

 

 

23

4/9

Rachel Carson

Lyle, Prologue, Chs. 1-2

 

 

 

24

4/11

Rachel Carson

Lyle, Chs. 3-4, Epilogue

 

 

 

25

4/16

Saving the World and Other Ideas

Worster, Ch.16

 

 

 

26

4/18

EHAP Project Presentations

 

27

4/23

Ecology with Chinese Characteristics

Economy, ???

 

 

 

28

4/25

Ecology with Chinese Characteristics

Economy, ???

29

4/30

Review

Economy, ???