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HIST W4400 Americans and the Natural World, 1800 to the Present. 4 points.

Prerequisites: seminar application required. SEE UNDERGRADUATE SEMINAR SECTION OF THE HISTORY DEPARTMENT'S WEBSITE.

This seminar deals with how Americans have treated and understood the natural world, connected or failed to connect to it, since 1800. It focuses on changing context over time, from the agrarian period to industrialization, followed by the rise of the suburban and hyper-technological landscape. We will trace the shift from natural history to evolutionary biology, give special attention to the American interest in entomology, ornithology, and botany, examine the quest to save pristine spaces, and read from the works of Buffon, Humboldt, Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, Darwin, Aldo Leopold, Nabokov, among others. Perspectives on naming, classifying, ordering, and most especially, collecting, will come under scrutiny.  Throughout the semester we will assess the strengths and weaknesses of the environmentalist movement, confront those who thought they could defy nature, transcend it, and even live without it. Field(s): US