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Course Description

What makes a landscape industrial? What makes an industrial site a landscape? This class considers how the development of technology in America intersected with the natural world, in some cases reshaping its contours and meanings, and in other cases getting redefined by nature's largesse or diminished capacity. The dynamic relationship between these two forces offers many examples of "historical camouflage" in which places and things are not entirely what they seem to be. At this point in history, what things that we see are not industrial in some way? How can we learn the history of places, both obviously industrial like factories, and not so obviously, like supermarkets? Is there a pattern in urban and rural places regarding where things are located, such as railroad lines, houses, refineries? How do industrial patterns differ from non-industrial patterns? The goal of this class is to develop a richer appreciation for the ways in which nature has pushed back, resisted, and collaborated with technologies in America.


Students must come to class prepared to discuss the assigned reading. Informed participation in discussions is essential to both the success of the class and the impressiveness of the student's grade in the class. Each student is asked to lead the class discussion at least once during the semester.

This class has a 1-hour midterm exam as well as a comprehensive final exam.


Students write three papers in this class. The first two papers, each 4-5 pages in length, are creative, historical exercises on particular topics. The third paper is a 10-page research paper on a topic agreed upon by the student and the professor.