In recent years scholars have begun to question the cultural values underlying our view of Nature. Kevin Dann contributes to this debate by juxtaposing two radically different “Arcadian” experiments founded by Manhattanites seeking cultural renewal through contact with the natural world.
Dann focuses first on initiatives carried out by the American Museum of Natural History and the Eugenics Record Office from 1910 to 1940 within Harriman State Park in the Ramapo Mountains. He argues that these diverse expressions of the early “back-to-nature” movement are united by their biological materialism, or “Naturalism,” which became integral to the popular culture of educated metropolitan Americans in the early twentieth century.
He then compares this activity to the contemporary efforts at nearby Threefold Farm, where anthroposophists--followers of Rudolf Steiner's“spiritual science”--developed a program of natural scientific research and education that directly opposed Darwinian explanations of natural history, social Darwinian views of human society, and reductionist scientific methods. By challenging scientific “fact” with spiritual scientific descriptions of supersensible phenomena, the Threefold Farm initiative offered Americans a new gospel of nature.
"All the wild and lonely places, the mountain springs are called now. They were not lonely or wild places in the past days. They were the homes of my people." --Chief Francisco Patencio, the Cahuilla of Palm Springs The Anza-Borrego Desert on California's southern border is a remote and harsh landscape, what author Lawrence Hogue calls "a land of dreams and nightmares, where the waking world meets the fantastic shapes and bent forms of imagination." In a country so sere and rugged, it's easy to imagine that no one has ever set foot there -- a wilderness waiting to be explored. Yet for thousands of years, the land was home to the Cahuilla and Kumeyaay Indians, who, far from being the "noble savages" of European imagination, served as active caretakers of the land that sustained them, changing it in countless ways and adapting it to their own needs as they adapted to it.In All the Wild and Lonely Places, Lawrence Hogue offers a thoughtful and evocative portrait of Anza-Borrego and of the people who have lived there, both original inhabitants and Spanish and American newcomers -- soldiers, Forty-Niners, cowboys, canal-builders, naturalists, recreationists, and restorationists. We follow along with the author on a series of excursions into the desert, each time learning more about the region's history and why it calls into question deeply held beliefs about "untouched" nature. And we join him in considering the implications of those revelations for how we think about the land that surrounds us, and how we use and care for that land."We could persist in seeing the desert as an emptiness, a place hostile to humans, a pristine wilderness," Hogue writes. "But it's better to see this as a place where ancient peoples tried to make their homes, and succeeded. We can learn from what they did here, and use that knowledge to reinvigorate our concept of wildness. Humans are part of nature; it's still nature, even when we change it."
In early July 1899, an excavation team of paleontologists sponsored by Andrew Carnegie discovered the fossil remains in Wyoming of what was then the longest and largest dinosaur on record. Named after its benefactor, the Diplodocus carnegii—or Dippy, as it’s known today—was shipped to Pittsburgh and later mounted and unveiled at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in 1907. Carnegie’s pursuit of dinosaurs in the American West and the ensuing dinomania of the late nineteenth century coincided with his broader political ambitions to establish a lasting world peace and avoid further international conflict. An ardent philanthropist and patriot, Carnegie gifted his first plaster cast of Dippy to the British Museum at the behest of King Edward VII in 1902, an impulsive diplomatic gesture that would result in the donation of at least seven reproductions to museums across Europe and Latin America over the next decade, in England, Germany, France, Austria, Italy, Russia, Argentina, and Spain. In this largely untold history, Ilja Nieuwland explores the influence of Andrew Carnegie’s prized skeleton on European culture through the dissemination, reception, and agency of his plaster casts, revealing much about the social, political, cultural, and scientific context of the early twentieth century.
In Ancient Piñon-Juniper Woodlands, editor Lisa Floyd gathers together noted scientists and historians to celebrate the varied and unique woodland region surrounding Mesa Verde National Park. One of the most widespread habitat types in the West, piñon-juniper woodlands have faced extensive eradication, grazing pressures, and the encroachment of human developments, and, consequently, only a few mature stands have reached their full growth potential. Mesa Verde Country, with its deep canyons and high ridgetops, is the magnificent home of many of these ancient stands.
Impressively broad in scope, Floyd's volume thoroughly explores Mesa Verde Country's important and historic ecosystem. Covering such diverse topics as geologic evolution, natural history, human history, bats, and fungi, to name but a few, this volume will appeal to scientists, resource managers, conservationists, and the lay reader with an interest in this most western of ecosystems. Technical Editors: David D. Hanna, William H. Romme and Marilyn Colyer
Marcia Bonta University of Pittsburgh Press, 1994 Library of Congress QH104.5.A6B65 1994 | Dewey Decimal 508.748
Marcia Bonta University of Pittsburgh Press, 1991 Library of Congress QH104.5.A6B66 1991 | Dewey Decimal 508.748
Marcia Bonta is a naturalist-writer who has lived on a 500-acre mountain-top farm in central Pennsylvania for twenty years. Appalachian Spring is her personal account of that glorious spectacle - the coming of the spring to the woods and fields of Appalachia.