Longing for Nature in American Literature
Publication Year: 2012
Often thought of as the quintessential home or the Eden from which humanity has fallen, the natural world has long been a popular object of nostalgic narratives. In Reclaiming Nostalgia, Jennifer Ladino assesses the ideological effects of this phenomenon by tracing its dominant forms in American literature and culture since the closing of the frontier in 1890. While referencing nostalgia for pastoral communities and for untamed and often violent frontiers, she also highlights the ways in which nostalgia for nature has served as a mechanism for social change, a model for ethical relationships, and a motivating force for social and environmental justice.
Published by: University of Virginia Press
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At some point in her career, every park ranger hears the question: “Do you get to wear the ‘Smokey the Bear Hat’?” It is striking how many family members, friends, acquaintances, and strangers want to know. For many, the familiar Stetson hat is a symbol of a bygone era, of simpler times, of friendly authority figures, maybe of the cartoon rangers who...
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I am grateful to the following organizations for supporting this project: the Walter Chapin Simpson Center for the Humanities at the University of Washington, Creighton University, the Fulbright Scholar Program, the University of Bergen, the University of Idaho, and the University of Virginia Press....
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On September 19, 1870, a small group of tired, hungry men held a legendary conversation around a campfire at Madison Junction, the confluence of the Firehole and Gibbon rivers in what is now Yellowstone National Park. The Washburn-Langford-Doane Expedition, consisting of nine amateur explorers, three packers, two African American cooks,...
* * * * HAVING A FIELD DAY: AUTHENTIC INDIANS AND PATRIOTIC TOURISM IN THE EARLY NATIONAL PARKS * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
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In 1916—the year the National Park Service was formed—Yosemite National Park held its first Indian Field Days. This inaugural event brought together nearly 150 Indians from the Yosemite region and approximately 1,500 park visitors for a daylong celebration of Indian culture....
1 / Longing for Wonderland: Zitkala-Ša’sPost-Frontier Nostalgia
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Indians and nature have been versatile, often contradictory, foils for constructions of white American identity since European settlement. Indians have a long and distinctive history of being both quintessentially “American” and the very antithesis of national identity. In Playing Indian, Philip J. Deloria describes how, for instance, Revolutionary War–era Indians ...
“PLUCKED UP BY THE ROOTS”:THE NOSTALGIC TRAJECTORIESOF THE SOUTHERN AGRARIANS
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“It is out of fashion these days to look backward rather than forward,” admits John Crowe Ransom at the start of the opening essay in I’ll Take My Stand: The South and the Agrarian Tradition (1). For Ransom and the other Southern agrarians, looking backward was a radical, if not a fashionable, way to counter a modernity they accused of breeding alienated...
2 /“Home Thoughts”: The Transnational Routes of Nostalgia in Claude McKay’s Home to Harlem
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With the Western frontier now several-decades “closed,” the “Great War” in the not-so-distant past, and increasing mechanization, industrialization, and mass production creating anxiety in the present, many modern authors shared Willa Cather’s feeling that the world had “broke[n] in two” (Not Under Forty v).1 Regionalist literature like Cather’s reflected ...
BORN FREE AND EQUAL:FRONTIER NOSTALGIA ANDTHE NATURE OF MANZANAR
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In his foreword to Ansel Adams’s 1944 photodocumentation of the internment camp at Manzanar, Born Free and Equal: The Story of Loyal Japanese-Americans, then Secretary of the Interior Harold L. Ickes confidently proclaims that “Americanism is not, and never was, a matter of race or ancestry” (7). To the Japanese interned in the camp, whose very...
3 /Nostalgia’s Caring Capacity: Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, Aldo Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac, and the “Last Call” for Nature
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The years immediately following the Second World War, particularly the 1950s, are usually represented as a time of wealth and optimism, when the country looked forward instead of backward—an era to feel nostalgic for, but hardly a nostalgic time itself. Americans like to recollect the decade as one of blanket prosperity characterized by increased wages,...
“A TEAR FOR THE FATE OF AMERICA”:THE (CRYING) INDIAN AS SPOKESPERSONFOR A VANISHING NATURAL WORLD
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Iron Eyes Cody—a.k.a. the “Crying Indian”—is perhaps best known for his role in a public service announcement (PSA) that aired for the first time on Earth Day 1971 as part of the “Keep America Beautiful” campaign. The PSA begins with Cody—wearing braids, feathers, and “traditional” garb—paddling a canoe along what appears to be a pristine...
4 /Remembering the Earth: N. Scott Momaday’s Nostalgic American Land Ethic
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While political radicals of the 1960s and ’70s invoked symbolic Indians to protest the Vietnam War and fuel their “revolutionary identities,” the Red Power movement focused its political energies on issues pertinent to real Indians (Deloria 165). Termination and the Relocation Program of the 1950s and ’60s, which sought to end federal responsibility for tribes ...
PATENTING “THE LAST OF NATURE’S CREATIONS”: MICE AND MEN IN A POSTNATURAL WORLD
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In October of 1999, a now-defunct coalition of nonprofit organizations called the Turning Point Project1 placed a controversial full-page advertisement in the New York Times. The ad features a hairless mouse with what looks like a human ear growing from its back, and the top third of the ad consists of a large-print headline: “Who plays God in the 21st...
5 /Don DeLillo’s Postmodern Homesickness:Nostalgia after the End of Nature
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The cover of the 2006 edition of Bill McKibben’s The End of Nature features a yellow bird, chest skyward, eyes half closed, feet curled in mortal repose. Combining fear and nostalgia in a way reminiscent of Rachel Carson’s powerful fable, McKibben’s introduction to this edition laments that the planet “means something different than it used to. Something ...
NATURE SURVIVES: FRONTIERNOSTALGIA ON REALITY TV
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Most Americans need no introduction to Survivor. Since its premier in the United States in 2000, the “reality” show has been among television’s most watched programs.1 For those who may be marooned on desert islands of their own, culturally speaking, here’s an overview. In each series, contestants (“Survivors”) are taken to an exotic destination, such ...
6 /Nostalgia and Nature at the Millennium:Ruth Ozeki’s Green Culture of Life
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By the start of the 1990s, nature, nation, and identity had become radically unstable categories. End-of-nature rhetoric and other “discourses of terminal lament,” along with a shift away from “ecosystem equilibrium,” or “balance,” as an ecological paradigm, shook the foundations of the American environmental imagination (Frederick Buell 547, 573)....
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In 2010, eighty-seven of Yellowstone National Park’s bison took up residence in a new summer home: Ted Turner’s Flying D Ranch, a 12,000-acre span of western Montana terrain. In a controversial agreement with Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks, Turner arranged to keep a portion of the historic bison herd’s newborn calves (approximately 188 animals, ...
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Page Count: 296
Illustrations: 6 halftones
Publication Year: 2012