University of Pennsylvania Press

Nature and Culture in America

Marguerite Shaffer, Series Editor

Published by: University of Pennsylvania Press

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Nature and Culture in America

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Empire of Vines

Wine Culture in America

By Erica Hannickel

The lush, sun-drenched vineyards of California evoke a romantic, agrarian image of winemaking, though in reality the industry reflects American agribusiness at its most successful. Nonetheless, as author Erica Hannickel shows, this fantasy is deeply rooted in the history of grape cultivation in America. Empire of Vines traces the development of wine culture as grape growing expanded from New York to the Midwest before gaining ascendancy in California—a progression that illustrates viticulture's centrality to the nineteenth-century American projects of national expansion and the formation of a national culture.

Empire of Vines details the ways would-be gentleman farmers, ambitious speculators, horticulturalists, and writers of all kinds deployed the animating myths of American wine culture, including the classical myth of Bacchus, the cult of terroir, and the fantasy of pastoral republicanism. Promoted by figures as varied as horticulturalist Andrew Jackson Downing, novelist Charles Chesnutt, railroad baron Leland Stanford, and Cincinnati land speculator Nicholas Longworth (also known as the father of American wine), these myths naturalized claims to land for grape cultivation and legitimated national expansion. Vineyards were simultaneously lush and controlled, bearing fruit at once culturally refined and naturally robust, laying claim to both earthy authenticity and social pedigree. The history of wine culture thus reveals nineteenth-century Americans' fascination with the relationship between nature and culture.

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In Darkest Alaska

Travel and Empire Along the Inside Passage

By Robert Campbell

Before Alaska became a mining bonanza, it was a scenic bonanza, a place larger in the American imagination than in its actual borders. Prior to the great Klondike Gold Rush of 1897, thousands of scenic adventurers journeyed along the Inside Passage, the nearly thousand-mile sea-lane that snakes up the Pacific coast from Puget Sound to Icy Strait. Both the famous—including wilderness advocate John Muir, landscape painter Albert Bierstadt, and photographers Eadweard Muybridge and Edward Curtis—and the long forgotten—a gay ex-sailor, a former society reporter, an African explorer, and a neurasthenic Methodist minister—returned with fascinating accounts of their Alaskan journeys, becoming advance men and women for an expanding United States.

In Darkest Alaska explores the popular images conjured by these travelers' tales, as well as their influence on the broader society. Drawing on lively firsthand accounts, archival photographs, maps, and other ephemera of the day, historian Robert Campbell chronicles how Gilded Age sightseers were inspired by Alaska's bounty of evolutionary treasures, tribal artifacts, geological riches, and novel thrills to produce a wealth of highly imaginative reportage about the territory. By portraying the territory as a "Last West" ripe for American conquest, tourists helped pave the way for settlement and exploitation.

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Rendering Nature

Animals, Bodies, Places, Politics

Edited by Marguerite S. Shaffer and Phoebe S. K. Young

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Tropical Whites

The Rise of the Tourist South in the Americas

By Catherine Cocks

As late as 1900, most whites regarded the tropics as "the white man's grave," a realm of steamy fertility, moral dissolution, and disease. So how did the tropical beach resort—white sand, blue waters, and towering palms—become the iconic vacation landscape? Tropical Whites explores the dramatic shift in attitudes toward and popularization of the tropical tourist "Southland" in the Americas: Florida, Southern California, Mexico, and the Caribbean. Drawing on a wide range of sources, Catherine Cocks examines the history and development of tropical tourism from the late nineteenth century through the early 1940s, when the tropics constituted ideal winter resorts for vacationers from the temperate zones. Combining history, geography, and anthropology, this provocative book explains not only the transformation of widely held ideas about the relationship between the environment and human bodies but also how this shift in thinking underscored emerging concepts of modern identity and popular attitudes toward race, sexuality, nature, and their interconnections.

Cocks argues that tourism, far from simply perverting pristine local cultures and selling superficial misunderstandings of them, served as one of the central means of popularizing the anthropological understanding of culture, new at the time. Together with the rise of germ theory, the emergence of the tropical horticulture industry, changes in passport laws, travel writing, and the circulation of promotional materials, national governments and the tourist industry changed public perception of the tropics from a region of decay and degradation, filled with dangerous health risks, to one where the modern traveler could encounter exotic cultures and a rejuvenating environment.

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