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.





Yosemite National Park Facelift Yields Over 20,000 Pounds of Trash

I found this article to be shocking to say the least. America has set aside over 84 million acres of land to “preserve”, hence our national parks. After reading this article I had a few questions about our intentions of preserving something: What does is it mean to preserve a park?, Does the impact humans have on the parks take away from preserving it?, and Are we truly preserving the land when we leave a negative impact on it?


Water + Trees + Mountains = Landscape

I have been browsing through many landscape paintings on the Internet and have noticed that many of them consist of water, trees, and a mountain scene or rock bluffs. Take Asher B. Durand’s – Progress The Advance of Civilization (1853), Frederick Edwin Church’s, Cotopaxi (1862), and Albert Bierstadt’s, Looking Down Yosemite Valley (1864) for instance, they all contain water, trees, and mountains. Each one can hold a different meaning depending upon the artist or viewer of the painting. The artist will paint landscapes with his or her interpretations hoping the viewer will see what they see, but that is not always the case. I can look at a painting and have one point of view while someone else can have another. My goal is to portray the different meanings that water, trees, and mountain scenes can hold within landscape art. I will look at Albert Bierstadt’s, Looking Down Yosemite Valley in particular to give the different meanings of each physical attribute.
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Vote to Drain Hetch Hetchy Valley in November

I found out something interesting this weekend, and I looked it up online to see if it was true. Currently, there are talks to drain the Hetch Hetchy reservoir. There will be a vote in November regarding it. Here’s a USA Today article regarding it.

Muir and a Renewal of the Sublime

I finally got a chance to watch the first episode of Ken Burns’ The National Parks: America’s Best Idea. As I watched, I couldn’t help but reflect more upon several of the paintings we looked at in class. The story of how John Muir found a spiritual reawakening in Yosemite got me thinking again about how the concept of wilderness began to change. Continue reading

Richard Grusin on National Parks as Culturally – Produced Technologies

During the first meeting of our class, we will be introducing some of the ideas in Richard Grusin’s book, Culture, Technology, and the Creation of America’s National Parks.  Our reading is the book’s introduction, which you can download here.

It’s okay if you don’t get a chance to look at this introduction before the start of class this evening (since many of you probably will not have seen the course blog before then). Continue reading