Readings

Required Reading and Writing

The following books are required for the course. Additional articles and book excerpts will also be assigned and distributed.

Basso, Keith. Wisdom Sits in Places. Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico Press, 1996. ISBN: 9780826317247.

Cronon, William. Changes in the Land. New York, NY: Hill & Wang, 2003. ISBN: 9780809016341.

Solnit, Rebecca. River of Shadows: Eadweard Muybridge and Technological Wild West. New York, NY: Penguin, 2004. ISBN: 9780142004104.

White, Richard. The Organic Machine. New York, NY: Hill & Wang, 1996. ISBN: 9780809015832.

Worster, Donald. Dust Bowl. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2004 [1979]. ISBN: 9780195174885.

LEC # TOPICS READINGS STUDY QUESTIONS
Week 1. Introduction and problems of definition  
1 Course overview and introductory lecture    
2 Discussion: defining Technology and Nature

Williams, Raymond. “Ideas of Nature.” In Problems in Materialism and Culture: Selected Essays. London, UK: Verso, 1996, pp. 67-85. ISBN: 9780860917298.

Marx, Leo. “Technology: The Emergence of a Hazardous Concept.” Social Research 64, no. 3 (Fall 1997): 965-988.

( PDF)
Week 2. Colonial American land use  
3 A brief history of ecological change in North America in the eighteenth century Cronon, pp. 3-107 and 159-170. ( PDF)
4 Discussion    
Week 3. Places and how we know them  
5 Discussion Basso, pp. 3-104. ( PDF)
Week 4. Industrial America in the countryside  
6 Imposing an industrial order on the antebellum landscape Steinberg, Theodore. Nature Incorporated: Industrialization and the Waters of New England. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2004, pp. 1-75. ISBN: 9780521527118. ( PDF)
7 Discussion    
Week 5. The aesthetics of the industrial landscape in antebellum America  
8

“Devilish iron horse” and “Aeolian harp”: artistic responses to industrialization

Thoreau, Henry David. “Where I Lived, and What I Lived For,” “Sounds,” “Solitude,” “Spring,” and “Conclusion.” In Walden. 1854. ( View text and download from The Thoreau Reader.)

Marx, L. The Machine in the Garden: Technology and the Pastoral Ideal in America. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2000, pp. 242-265. ISBN: 9780195133516.

 
9 Discussion   ( PDF)
Week 6. Railroads and colonization  
10 View film: The Iron Road. Directed by Neil Goodwin. PBS: The American experience, 1990, 60 min.   ( PDF)
11 Discussion

Stilgoe, John. Metropolitan Corridor: Railroads and the American Scene. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1985, pp. 189-221. ISBN: 9780300034813.

Cronon, William. Nature’s Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West. New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company, 1992, pp. 55-93. ISBN: 9780393308730.

 
Week 7. Making an agricultural landscape  
12

View films: The Plow That Broke the Plains. Directed by Pare Lorentz, 1936, 25 min. ( View and download at the Internet Archive.)

The River. Directed by Pare Lorentz, 1938, 31 min. (View and download ( Part 1, Part 2) at the Internet Archive).

Cronon, William. Nature’s Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West. New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company, 1992, pp. 97-147. ISBN: 9780393308730.

Steinberg, Theodore. Down to Earth: Nature’s Role in American History. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2002, pp. 71-115. ISBN: 9780195140101.

( PDF)
13 Discussion    
Week 8. Technological systems and the transformation of time and space in the late nineteenth century  
14 Networking nation and nature: a case study of weather telegraphy, 1870-1891 Solnit, Rebecca. River of Shadows: Eadweard Muybridge and Technological Wild West. New York, NY: Penguin, 2004. ISBN: 9780142004104.  
15 Discussion    
Week 9. Creating American parklands  
16 Conservation and the scientific management of nature    
17 Discussion

Pinchot, Gifford. “Prosperity,” “The New Patriotism,” and “The Present Battle.” Chapters 1, 11 and 12 in The Fight for Conservation. New York, NY: Doubleday, Page & Co., 1910. ( PDF) ( Download complete work from Project Gutenberg.)

Muir, John. “The Wild Parks and Forest Reservations of the West.” Chapter 1 in Our National Parks. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin & Co., 1901, pp. 1-36. ( PDF - 4.3 MB) ( View and download the complete work from The Internet Archive.)

Cronon, William. “The Trouble with Wilderness.” In Uncommon Ground: Toward Reinventing Nature. Edited by William Cronon. New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Co., 1995, pp. 69-90. ISBN: 9780393038729.

Steinberg, Theodore. Down to Earth: Nature’s Role in American History. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2002, pp. 138-56. ISBN: 9780195140101.

( PDF)
Week 10. Water and the hydraulic society  
18 View film: Cadillac Desert. Directed by Jon Else and Linda Harrar, 1997, 60 min. Worster, pp. 10-25 and 100-180. ( PDF)
19 Discussion    
Week 11. Labors of and in nature: rivers, energy, and work  
20 Discussion White. ( PDF)
Week 12. The landscape of postwar suburbia  
21 Levittown and the building of the suburban family ideal    
22 Discussion Selected primary sources from Nicolaides, Becky M., and Andrew Wiese, eds. The Suburb Reader. New York, NY: Routledge, 2006, pp. 260-272, 298, 303, and 316-320. ISBN: 9780415945936.  
Week 13. The landscape of food  
23 How food became fast, or, industrial agriculture in the twentieth century

Pollan, Michael. “Naturally: How Organic became a Marketing Niche and a Multibillion-dollar Industry.” The New York Times Magazine, May 13, 2001, pp. 30-37, 57-58, and 63-64.

Steinberg, Theodore. Down to Earth: Nature’s Role in American History. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2002, pp. 138-56. ISBN: 9780195140101.

 
24 Discussion    
Week 14. Presentations of student research projects  
25 Student presentations    
26 Student presentations (cont.)    

Course Info

Learning Resource Types

notes Lecture Notes
assignment_turned_in Written Assignments with Examples