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Week Eleven: The West and Environmental History

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November 11: Conservation and Creation of the National Park system


Readings

 

Please consider the readings in the order that they appear below.

 

 

Study Questions 

 

Before completing the readings, look over the timeline. How would you describe the creation of the national parks?

 

1. Carefully consider how the material this week is interconnected. For instance, note that Theodore Roosevelt was President of the Boone and Crockett Club in 1895 when he coauthored Hunting in Many Lands with George Bird Grinnell. Roosevelt also helped found and name the club in 1887.

 

-- Can you identify the influence of Thoreau in the writings and ideas of John Muir or Theodore Roosevelt?  If so, be specific in forming an answer.

--Where are the Indians in Muir's wilderness?  How would contrast Muir's wilderness with Turners?  How would you contrast Muir's idea of wilderness with Joe Start and his ideas of land use in the movie Shane?

--What did Muir mean when he described eastern Americans as overcivilized? And how did he relate this concept to the National Parks and National Forests?

 

2. Consider how these readings revisit themes discussed in previous classes. Are the ideas presented by Muir, Roosevelt, and Thoreau connected to earlier discussions? How do you think each man would define the West? How is the concept of the West we have discussed throughout the course connected to the creation of the National Park System? What do these men value and what do they wish to preserve? 

 

3. Why according to Karl Jacoby, should we not treat nature or wilderness as self evident categories?  What does he mean when he describes the cultural construction of nature?

 

 

 

November 13: Depression and the Dust Bowl

 

Readings

 

 

1. "Interview about FSA camp governance, camp work, non-FSA migrant camps, labor issues, attitude toward Okies" (do a keyword search for "FSA camp governance")

2. "Interview about the Mexican family, discrimination against Mexicans, and life in the FSA camp" (do a keyword search for "Mexican Family")

3. "Interview about lemon picking, FSA camp" (do a keyword search for "lemon picking")

 

 

Study Questions 

 

1. In this class we have discussed how narrative story telling can impose an artificial structure onto past events and that this structure, in turn, shapes the meaning of the story. How do the plot and character choice shape Ford's interpretation of the Great Depression? What is the narrative arc of the John Ford movie The Grapes of Wrath? And how does this shape the meaning of his film (how does he begin and conclude his story)?

 

2. How does this compare to the stories you find in the primary source texts assigned for this class? What narratives do the FSA interviews, the FSA newsletter, and Charles Todd's articles impose onto past events? How does this narrative structure come about, and how does it affect the way we now understand these events?

 

3. When you look at Dorothea Lange's photographs, what are the stories that emerge, and where do they come from? How are these visual documents affected by the historical narratives found in other written sources?

 

 

 

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