The Pastoral Trope and Its Influence on Man-Made Spaces

For my final project I wrote an essay about the pastoral trope. I’ve always been interested in how common themes are spread and I liked how pretty much everything we discussed in class could be brought back to the pastoral. I researched the beginnings of the trope and how literary pastoral inspired landscape architects like Olmsted. Parts of my essay focuses on Glen A. Love’s writings in Practical Ecocriticism: Literature, Biology, and the Environment, as well as the pastoral trope and Yosemite. I’ve made a slideshow to go along with it and I’ll be showing a video of people in a time lapse in Yosemite.





Yellowstone Wolves

Because of their endangered status, wolves were missing from one of the most popular parks in the United States, Yellowstone National Park. In 1974, the gray wolf was listed as endangered in the continental United States. After reintroduction efforts to save the wolves, their status in two of the three Distinct Population Segments (DPS) established by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Western and Eastern DPS, was downgraded to “threatened” in April of 2003. Sadly, however, the effort to save these wolves hasn’t spread through all of the areas that the wolves populate; the wolves in the Southwestern DPS are still classified as endangered.

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Representations of Paradise

Jan Brueghel the Elder, Earth (The Earthly Paradise

The first thing you notice when looking at Jan Brueghel the Elder’s oil on copper painting Earth: The Earthly Paradise (1618) (also known as The Allegory of Earth) is the sheer number of animals taking up the lower half of the composition. Other animals, mainly birds, are spread more sporadically through the top half. There appears to be only one of most of the animals. There are even more beasts hidden within the forest that are only visible upon very close inspection. All of these animals being in the foreground, makes the viewer know immediately that this scene takes place in Eden; only here could all of these creatures coexist peacefully.

Electronic Vehicle Charging Stations Now Appearing in National Parks

Three of our National Parks have EV (electronic vehicle) charging stations: Yellowstone, Zion, and Great Smoky Mountains. The addition of these charging stations further highlights the National Parks’ message of protecting the environment. Lamar Valley Buffalo Ranch (located in Yellowstone) is off the grid and uses solar power, so cars charged here would really be powered by the sun. The Black Bear Solar Institute in the Great Smoky Mountains also uses solar energy to help power the charging stations, and this has helped to make Townsend, TN the most EV friendly city in the world.

Read the article on Huffington Post!

People and Nature in Two Works by Salvator Rosa

Bandits on a Rocky Coast (c.1656) by Salvator Rosa

In Salvator Rosa’s Bandits on a Rocky Coast (c. 1656), there is a fairly obvious diagonal line separating the top left half of the composition from the bottom right. Though the sky depicted in the scene is a light and cheerful blue, the clouds coming through it from the right look dark, as if a storm is coming through. The border is clean except for the top of the painting, where it almost appears as though the canvas is being taken over by the grey clouds. Before looking closely at the image, it appears that the landscape on the right of the image is simply a mass of black; however, the space is highly detailed, with many plants and intricate edges of the jagged cliffs, and a small natural bridge. A rough tree stands prominently on this side of the image, with its few branches twisted. This land is on the edge of a body of water, and though only a relative sliver of this water is visible, it gives the impression that it is expansive, and perhaps holds more of civilization on the other side of it. On the bottom of the left side, eight figures (the bandits named in the title) are gathered together at the water’s edge, perhaps plotting together.

Boston’s Emerald Necklace

The Olmsted Emerald Necklace Historic Map

After reading about the Fens and the Riverway in “Constructing Nature: The Legacy of Frederick Law Olmsted,” by Anne Whiston Spirn a couple of weeks ago for class I became very interested in the idea of these man-made wetlands and decided to delve further into this subject for my free-form article. After looking into the Fens and the Riverway I found that the Riverway is part of a system of parks called the Emerald Necklace (which was briefly mentioned in “Constructing Nature”) in Boston, Massachusetts. These parks are part of a conservation organization called the Emerald Necklace Conservancy.

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The Influence of the Pastoral Trope

For my end of the semester project, I’ve decided on expanding on some of the ideas that I started exploring in my first free-form article, “Brokeback Mountain and the Pastoral Trope.” I really like that this singular idea, the pastoral trope, became so influential in such a variety of media forms, in everything from ancient poetry to modern film. I am planning on writing an essay to be posted on the class blog in which I will both research and analyze these various forms, as well as the history of the pastoral. Continue reading