Many of us go "back to nature" to get away from civilization. But as often as not, our expectations and actions are shaped by idealized notions of natural order, purity, and even neatness that are in fact impositions of civilization on nature. This is a highly insightful, sometimes ironic study of the influence of such paradoxes in the early 20th-century love affair with nMany of us go "back to nature" to get away from civilization. But as often as not, our expectations and actions are shaped by idealized notions of natural order, purity, and even neatness that are in fact impositions of civilization on nature. This is a highly insightful, sometimes ironic study of the influence of such paradoxes in the early 20th-century love affair with nature: anthropomorphized animal stories, summer camps, wildlife protection, landscaped cemeteries, wilderness novels and scenic turnoffs that imposed an industrial ethic of order, neatness, and regularity on natural systems. Recommended....
|Title||:||Back to Nature: The Arcadian Myth in Urban America|
|Number of Pages||:||264 Pages|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
|Last checked||:||21 Minutes ago!|
Back to Nature: The Arcadian Myth in Urban America Reviews
An interesting account of the changing attitudes toward 'nature' at the turn of the 20th century, when we stopped thinking of nature as something to destroy and started thinking of it as something to tame. It is not enough to take men out of doors. We must also teach them to enjoy it. -Ernest Thompson Seton 1917
A thorough and engaging history, particularly in Schmitt's focus on how a variety of cultural forces both shaped and were shaped by projections of urban desires and attitudes on rural spaces. Also, the attention to how those urbanites went to great lengths to differentiate themselves and their "sophisticated" outdoor activities from those of actual country dwellers is fascinating. Where Back to Nature frustrates – not surprisingly, considering its publication date – is in referring to the working classes, the rural classes, women, and Native Americans always from a distance. Culture is described only through the actions of the wealthy and influential acting upon those "below" them, and the absence of those other voices becomes harder and harder to ignore as Schmitt gets deeper into that history. Also, a couple of chapters feel a bit cursory, especially the one about nature photography, in which the appeal and popularity of the medium is described but not how those technologies of reproduction and presentation impacted later attitudes toward their natural subjects. But those are the complaints of a contemporary reader asking an older book to write in a way perhaps inconceivable in its own moment.
Interesting, if basic, introduction to garden cities and cemeteries in the US. Good bulk of the book is about the "nature study" movement at the beginning of the 20th century--getting kids into nature and developing them into nurtured, whole human beings. A classic, good for basic refs--but many other contemporary books in this vein offer far more info.