Summary of articles
William Cronon, the author of the journal ‘Nature history narrative’ has been a scholar of the American history on environment and that of west America. His research revolves around an understanding of the history of human interactions with nature around them. The interaction mainly involves modification of the landscape to suite human existence, dependence on the ecosystem and the effects of human ideas on the world around him. In the past, he has served as the president of American Society for environmental History and is currently the general editor of Weyerhaeuser Environmental Book series for the University of Washington Press. Among the many degrees he has been awarded are: B.A from Wisconsin University (1976), M.A (1979), Master of Philosophy (1980) and a PHD in the same field in 1990 from Yale. He also has a score of honorary prizes for his good teaching skills at Yale and Wisconsin.
In his work his main drive can be attributed to his passion in history of America. This is evidenced by the fact that all his work revolves around history of America. His books and journals include:
‘Changes in the land: Indians, colonists and the ecology of New England’. (1983)
‘Nature’s Metropolis: Chicago and Great West’. (1991).
’Under an open sky: Rethinking America’s Western past.(1992’). In this collection of essays on American historiology, he was a co-editor.
He is currently working on other texts including ‘Saving Nature in Time’. His main interest is portrayed by his works and can be claimed to be passion on saving the environment for the future.
In his journal of American history, he tries to differentiate a narrative and a chronicle. He uses several illustrations to show the difference. He summarizes one of the narratives by Webb by trying to define a plain from Webb’s point of view. He says that a plain is a land of survival that human efforts have not changed till today. Still from Webb’s work, a semi-arid land is not a wilderness or waste but land that opposes civilization. Webb’s story has formed the core of many Plains environmental histories. For Webb the plain was resistive yet changeable thus it would at last comply with the human will. The political intervention later did accelerate the pace of the plains; compliance to the human will as written by ‘Deal Planners’.
Worster’s narrative differs only drastically from Webb’s and Malin’s since it draws is basic ideas from the two since they act as its predecessor. At the end of the journal, he notes down some phrases common on America like Wheat belt, Great Plains and dust Bowl and emphasizes on the responsible and conscious use of the land so as not to destroy it and go as per Webb’s plan.
Language of the Landscape
The author of the book ‘Language of the landscape’, Anne Whiston Spirn is a professor of landscape architecture at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She has won many awards through her authorship. Also, she is a well known landscape architect teacher. She also has great passion in photography. Among her most featured books are:
‘The Granite Garden: Urban Nature and Human Design’ (1984). This text tries to describe the appearance of cities if landscape was considered in their construction as opposed to their current construction that ignores the natural processes and landscape.
‘The Language of the Landscape’ (1998). This book further extends the ideas conceived by the preceding book.
‘Daring to look’ (2008). This book presents some photographs and reports as found out by Dorothea Lange (1939) and how the lives of Americans is still being shaped by the great Depression.
Her passion in writing can be attributed to her willingness help the human race understand how to interact with the environment without causing harm to it. She has also written a series of essays on the same topic.
On educational matters, she studied art history at Radcliffe College and graduated with honors, master degree in landscape architecture, University of Pennsylvania.
In her book, ‘Language of the landscape’, she claims that we can communicate with the landscape in our own native languages. She further says that our minds are the habitat of language landscape. In her text, she tries to show that it is possible to communicate with the landscape so as to avert any danger that might be posed by the landscape or we might pose to the landscape. She compares features like a mountain or a river to human beings by having a mouth (river) or even foot (mountain). She further says that landscape can be shaped only by those who have vast knowledge about it not those who have specialized in study of only a few of its aspects. The specialized people usually relate in rather inhuman way with the landscape. She gives several examples in support of the point by using a developer who only thinks of the gains from his project without even looking at the effects his project might have on the landscape. She concludes that it is the human beings who should adapt to the landscape not the landscape adapting to the human acts.
Landscape and Memory
The author of ‘landscape memory’, Simon Michael Schama is a British historian. He is a professor in Art history and he is currently in Columbia University. He has worked as a lecturer at Cambridge as a director of history studies and also at Oxford University. He later relocated to the U.S and worked at Harvard University.
He has written books like
‘The embarrassment of riches’. (1987).
‘Dead certainties’. (Unwanted speculations). (1991).
‘Landscape and Memory’. (1995).
His person for history and landscape architecture developed and spurred during his studies back in England. In his essay he begins at a nostalgic note by recalling what led him into his line of specialization. He uses a wide range of illustrative language so as to mould the mood of the reader and eventually narrates how he ended in his profession. He explains how some miners who did not have any thought of the landscape after their activities were forcibly evicted from idyll and how the forest and the mountain formed beautiful scenery that lingers in his mind. In this text he tries to drive a certain point into the minds of the historians who dismissed his text under the title’ Dead Uncertainties’.