Considering the landscape (October 15)

Questions for discussion

1. In what ways do buildings and landscapes have a history?  How is that history useful to us as people living in the landscape?  As historians, what tactics can we use to make that history more visible?

2. Do you agree with Lewis’s assertion that “the American educational system, both formal and informal, actively discourages the act of looking and thinking about what one sees” (93-94)?  Give some examples from your own experiences as a learner and/or teacher.

3. Do you agree with Lewis’s argument that the war monument and the California bungalows in Bellefonte represent social and cultural tensions?  Explain your answer.

4. Explain in your own words Henderson’s “four dominant discourses on landscape”: landscape as landschaft, landscape as social space, the epistemological landscape, and the apocryphal landscape. Towards which discourse(s) do you lean philosophically and in your own research and writing?

5. What is the difference between a positive modality and a normative one? How might a normative discourse lead to a different kind of landscape analysis or history than a positive one?

6. Henderson writes, “If landscape was to be about not only surfaces, but also alertness to social structure, and to fairness and justice, [J. B.]  Jackson reminded us it would also have to be about questioning how far the study of landscape can take us and how landscape could be redefined in terms of concern with social and economic justice” (197) Do you think historical interpretations of a landscape ought to be deployed in the service of social justice?  Why or why not?  If so, for whom and by whom?

7. Is landscape study a good way to learn history?  Why or why not?


Suggest a cross-sectional drive through Boise that makes an argument about Boise’s historical development, following the rules laid out by Grady Clay on pages 120-122.  As you do, keep in mind Timothy Davis’s essay on the American highway landscape and the importance of the car, as well as “other-directed architecture,” in the physical and economic development of a city.  In a blog post, map or describe your cross-section, then explain what argument your cross-section makes, and why you chose the route you did.  (Hint: for mapping, if you have a laptop or tablet, you can use Gmap Pedometer, take a screenshot, and upload it to your post.)


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