Monday, March 16, 2009
Manifest Destiny / Manifest Responsibility - Week 8
This Weeks readings from the Manifest Destiny/Manifest Responsibility: Environmentalism and the Art of the American Landscpae exhibition and catalogue "traces the links and transitions between the various ideas about the land that have most shaped American History from first contact to the present." In The Cultural Reputations of Nature in American History Michael S Hogue states, "our changing ideas about nature, and the various ways we have given form to those ideas, are key to understanding our history and our national character...Nature and nation mutually implicate one another in American History." Hogue goes on to quote environmental historian Roderick Nash who argued that "Wilderness was the basic ingredient of American Culture. From the raw materials of the physical wilderness , Americans built a civilzation. With the idea of wildereness they sought to give their civilization identity and meaning." I found this statement to be particularly compeling because it suggests that nature is more than just a backdrop that history takes place on but rather that nature itself is apart of our history. Thinking of nature as more than merely a backdrop suggests a shift from the notion, of "humans apart from nature" to "humans as apart of nature."