Roderick Nash ~ Old World Roots of Opinion

This reading comes from Roderick Nash’s, Wilderness and the American Mind, which was first published in 1967 and is a foundational work in environmental history that remains informative, insightful, and accessible.  Overall, the book studies American attitudes towards nature.  As you will see in the first chapter, “Old World Roots of Opinion” he begins by discussing European attitudes towards nature keeping in mind that the explorers and early settlers of North America were largely European transplants who brought these attitudes with them to the “new” continent.

While reading this chapter, consider the following questions:

  • How did Europeans conceptualize wilderness and nature?
  • How do Judeo-Christian ideas affect European attitudes toward nature and wilderness?
  • Why does Nash discuss St. Francis?
  • Why does Nash mention Eastern ideas about nature?

Note:  This reading will inform our discussion in class next Monday (9/10), but the primary reading is Cronon’s “Trouble with Wilderness.”



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