Course Details

Course offered Spring 2017

HONORS 392 A: Visions of the land: Wilderness and shifting cultural landscapes of the Pacific Northwest (SSc / NSc, DIV)

HONORS 392 A: Visions of the land: Wilderness and shifting cultural landscapes of the Pacific Northwest (SSc / NSc, DIV)

SLN 14943 (View UW registration info »)

Timothy Billo (Program on the Environment)
Phone: 206-407-4056

Credits: 5
Limit: 35 students

Honors Credit Type

This course examines cultural visions of the local landscape through time. We will start with visions of the pre-European landscape, both from the perspective of Native Americans, and early European explorers who kept detailed journals and sketches. We will then focus on the origins and philosophy of our regional wilderness preservation movement (juxtaposed against a separate vision of resource extraction), a mainstay of American conservation that was in large part responsible for preserving the iconic landscapes that continue to make our burgeoning region such a desirable place to live. We will spend time critically examining wilderness as both a concept and a place, paying special attention to the human/nature divide, and a number of narratives around equity, privilege, and cultural marginalization that stem from the institution of wilderness. We will ask whether wilderness has been a successful conservation framework, who benefits from wilderness as an institution, and what role wilderness (or a modified vision of the natural landscape) will play for the people of our region going forward. By understanding the historical tensions and frameworks that define our regional landscape, we will be able to shed light on current land-use controversies, as well as identify new themes that are unique to our time. The course will draw readings from a variety of sources and disciplines including history, art history, historical journals, nature writing, biology, psychology, current events, and recently published editorials, and will pay special attention to underrepresented and historically marginalized cultures and groups. There will be one campus-based walking field trip, and a possible optional field trip further afield. Your grade will be based on contributions to discussion, a creative research-based project and presentation, and one essay.