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Landscape and Memory: Poetics and Politics of Place

Advanced—Spring

How do spaces become recognized as places, shot through with meanings and memories? What constellations of cultural agendas, historic conflicts and contexts, media and ideologies, and material techniques shape the ways specific sites have come to signify? What role does the differential distribution of power play in the creation of place? We investigate these and other questions by using the theoretical optics and vocabularies of environmental and landscape history, narrative analysis, cultural and social history, landscape design, and art history. We will work theory against the grain of particular cases, analyzing the organization of landscapes, nature preserves, museum exhibits and monuments, national borders, and natural boundaries. The feel of Appalachian landscapes, the controversy over the abortive attempt to exhibit the Enola Gay at the Smithsonian Institution, disputes over the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial, the history of colonial landscape-making in British-controlled Africa, the creation of nature parks and historical reserves in Israel, and shifting perceptions of the Grand Canyon in the American Southwest will be among the cases this course examines.