History / Geography / Environmental Studies 469

Fall 2016 Syllabus

LECTURER: Bill Cronon, 5103 Humanities (also 443 Science Hall).

SECTION LEADERS: Bill Cronon, Daniel Grant, Ben Kasten (with support from Spring Greeney)

Bill's Phone: 265-6023. This has an answering machine on which you can leave messages if I'm not in. No calls to my home or cell numbers, please. A much better way to contact me is via email at wcronon@wisc.edu, but please do this sparingly; I often receive more than 100 emails per day and it's all I can do (and sometimes quite a lot more!) to keep up with them all. If you don't hear back from me in a timely way, please just resend your email and try to forgive me for frequently getting swamped with the heavy volume of messages I receive! Please don't send me texts on my cell or via Facebook.

Bill's Website: Bill's website is at www.williamcronon.net, and the page for this course can be found at www.williamcronon.net/courses/469/. Be sure to bookmark and keep track of this link, since the page will have many handouts and other materials helpful for students in the course (I will keep adding new content to it throughout the semester). If you happen to lose track of it, a Google search of Cronon 469 should yield this page as the top hit.

Office Hours: 9:30am-11:30am Tuesdays, 5103 Humanities, first come first served. I would prefer to see you during regular hours, but will try to meet with you at other times if necessary. Please don't just stop by my office if you need to see me at times other than my office hours, however; email me first and make an appointment. I generally meet with students for appointments in 443 Science Hall.

TA Offices: Email is the best way to get in touch with your section leader if you need to contact them. Daniel Grant's address is dagrant2@wisc.edu and Ben Kasten's is bkasten@wisc.edu. Ben's office in 4268 Humanities, and Daniel Grant's office is in 404 Science Hall. All will circulate office hours at the first section meeting of the semester.

LECTURES will be held on Mondays and Wednesdays from 2:30-3:45pm in 2650 Humanities.


This course surveys the history of the United States and its colonial precursors from an unusual perspective: the evolution of the American landscape. Designed to complement existing courses on American environmental history and the history of the American West, it begins by orienting students to the geography of the North American continent, paying special attention to those features--geology, physiography, climate, vegetation, ecology--that have had the greatest influence on human lives in different regions. It also offers tools for interpreting landscape: different ways of periodizing the American past, different ways of mapping American space, different ways of narrating American historical geographical change. Once this basic introduction has been completed, the course explores different elements of the national landscape at moments when they became prominent features of American life, tracing their stories forward in time. Eclectic rather than encyclopedic, it focuses on landscape elements and processes most likely to be helpful to students as they try to understand the world around them.

For many years, my survey course on American Environmental History (History / Geography / Environmental Studies 460) has asked students to write a "place paper" in which they select a place they know well and write an environmental history of that place. Although this has proven to be a wonderful assignment, and many students report having benefitted a great deal from it, I have never been completely confident that a lecture course focusing mainly on systemic environmental change, ideas of nature, and environmental politics really gave students the tools they needed to write these place papers. This new course on "The Making of the American Landscape" is my solution to this pedagogical problem: by tracing the physical, cultural, economic, and material evolution of the nations different landscapes, it seeks to lay much firmer foundations on which student place papers can be constructed. With this in mind, I've moved this semester-long final assignment from 460 to 469, which means that the various resources I've developed for the place paper will now be available for this course.

Although 469 is every bit as much a survey of environmental history as 460 is--and the two courses are designed to complement each other with as little repetition as possible--469 focuses much more on the evolution of the material landscape and the various historical relationships that have shaped it over the long sweep of American history. As such, 469 places more emphasis on historical geography than 460 does, and it also spends more time teaching students concrete skills for reading the landscape: map reading; the use of natural features to understand settlement patterns; the growth of transportation networks; the evolving infrastructures of water supply, sewage, energy, and other such systems; the history of architectural construction and the built environment; and so on and on. By the time students complete this course, they should have in their personal toolkits a set of skills for interpreting landscapes that they can use for the rest of their lives. As such, the course is an intentional homage to Aldo Leopold's famous Wildlife Ecology 118 course at the University of Wisconsin, first taught in 1939, in which reading the landscape was one of his chief goals.

"The Making of the American Landscape" aspires to give students not just a survey of the changing landscapes of the United States from colonial times to the present, but also different ways of seeing those landscapes, so that our national history and geography come alive in new ways. By the end of the course, students will have learned to:

  1. Identify numerous features of the American landscapes and understand their origin and evolution;

  2. Think spatially and geographically about historical change;

  3. Improve their skills in reading maps, satellite photographs, and other cartographic documents;

  4. Do digital and archival research to trace the history of a particular American landscape;

  5. Learn to juxtapose sources and research questions to yield original historical interpretations;

  6. Apply alternative periodizations to changing landscapes in order to narrate their pasts;

  7. Synthesize historical geography at the national scale to interpret local landscape change;

  8. Learn to view landscape as the extraordinarily rich historical document in which they themselves live.


This syllabus provides a detailed outline of what we'll be covering in the course, and we strongly advise you to refer to it often as you plan your studying. Readings are moderately extensive, but they are generally not difficult; they have been chosen as much as possible to be fun and thought-provoking as well as informative. (The approximate number of pages assigned each week appears in parentheses at the end of each week's title in the syllabus.) Three required texts are available at the University Bookstore, and can also be ordered online. They are as follows (with call numbers):

Wayne C. Booth, et al., The Craft of Research, 3rd edition, Q180.55 M4 B66 2008.
William Cronon, Nature's Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West, GF 504 N45 C76 2003 (any edition OK)
Christopher Wells, Car Country: An Environmental History, HE5623 W45 2014

I have reduced the number of required textbooks quite significantly in recent years in an effort to reduce costs for students; at the same time, the number of online readings has increased, as you'll see when you study the syllabus below. All required textbooks are available on reserve in Helen C. White library. You needn't purchase all of them, and you should feel free to read library copies or share books with classmates if you prefer. Other readings are available as course handouts or on electronic reserve either via your My UW or Learn@UW page. Please be sure you know how to access e-reserve readings and find my website by the end of the first week of classes.


Each of the two exams (which cover only their respective halves of the course) count for 20% of your grade; the first paper counts for 5%; the place paper for 30%; and section participation and exercises for the remaining 25%. Please note in particular that we take section participation very seriously. Learning how to talk intelligently and enthusiastically about significant subjects is actually one of the most important skills you can learn in college, and this course is a great place to work on that skill. We'll be dealing with interesting readings about historical subjects that have important implications for our present and future, so it shouldn't be hard for you to come to section with questions and comments you'd like to share with other members of the group. Try to make a special effort to get to know not just your section leader, but the other students in your section. We promise this will not only make the course more enjoyable, but will add a lot to what you learn as well.


There will be two exams, a midterm and a final, each covering their respective halves of the course and each counting for 20% of your grade. The final will occur on the last day of class, so we will not use our scheduled final exam slot on December 23.


This course has the graduate course attribute. Graduate students taking the course can fulfill its requirements by enrolling in the special 75-minute discussion section (301) that is taught by the professor and reserved for graduate students and Honors undergraduates, or by making special arrangements with the professor if that section does not fit their schedule. Graduate students are expected to attend lectures, participate actively in discussion section, take the regular examinations, and submit written papers that are significantly longer and more heavily researched than the written work of non-Honors undergraduates. Further details about length requirements appear in the section on Written Assignments below. Exams and papers written by graduate students will be graded by the professor.



(2 double-spaced pages; 3-4 pages for Honors undergrads and graduate students)

This brief initial writing assignment is due at the beginning of lecture on Monday, October 3, and asks you to use one or more historical images (supplemented if you'd like with maps and aerial photographs) to investigate a particular place on the UW-Madison campus or elsewhere in Madison--most likely a group of buildings or a landscape--to assess the ways in which it was different in the past compared to what it is today. This assignment only counts for 5% of your grade because we don't want you to get too stressed out about it; to the contrary, we'd like you to experience the fun of playing historical detective to compare old photographs of a place with what that place looks like today, using your best historical skills to try to identify and interpret the chief changes that have occurred between the different moments in time.

Because we haven't yet given you the tools for the full-scale research you'll be doing for your place paper, we're asking you to peruse online historical photographs to identify one or more that depict a place in Madison you can visit in the present so you can compare the two moments in time and write about the differences you observe. The best websites for locating such images are probably:

Cultural Landscape of the UW-Madison Campus: uwdc.library.wisc.edu/collections/UW/UWCulturalLand
UW-Madison Image Collection: uwdc.library.wisc.edu/collections/UW/UWMadison
Wisconsin Historical Society Visual Materials: www.wisconsinhistory.org/Content.aspx?dsNav=N:1135

You may want to approach your selection of a place from two directions: looking at the world around you as you walk around campus or Madison to think about phenomena in the landscape and built environment that you find especially interesting, but also rummaging around among the online photo collections to see which images most interest you. Some of you will probably first identify your place by walking around in it; others will first find it in an old photo. But the point of this assignment is to juxtapose the photo (or photos--you can use more than one if you'd like) with the place you see today. Once you've done so, you should identify the historical changes that most interest you, then write a brief essay describing these changes and offering your best historical interpretation of what they mean. We suggest that you select for the place you write about a geographical scale larger than a single building. Although it might seem easier and more manageable to write about one building, in fact this assignment is harder when you have less to write about.

Finally, the following webpage may give you ideas about strategies for interpreting old photographs:
www.williamcronon.net/researching/images.htm There are some useful suggestions for how to read an urban landscape on this web page:
The following page isnt mainly focused on cities, but it might give you some ideas as well:


(5-6 double-spaced pages; 7-10 pages for Honors undergrads and graduate students)

This is due at the beginning of lecture on Monday, November 21, and is intended to give you an opportunity actually to do landscape history yourself as a way of synthesizing what you've learned from the entire course. In it, you are to choose some place--either located in Madison or somewhere in the United States that you know well from your home or travels--and write a brief essay discussing your interpretation of some aspects of its landscape history, using the themes, tools, and perspectives we've studied in class. Because this is a relatively brief paper, you'll need to think carefully about what parts of your chosen place you wish to explore in your essay: it is far better to discuss a few aspects well than many aspects superficially. Write a description or tell a story that will explain to the reader how this place came to have the shape and qualities it has today. You should think of this paper as an exercise in historical, geographical, and environmental interpretation, asking you to read a small patch of landscape as a document of past environmental change. Just as importantly, your place should illustrate one or more important themes drawn from the course as a whole, so please be careful to think carefully about which course themes can help you interpret the past of your place, and which aspects of your place can illustrate the themes of the course.

Since we'd like you to be thinking about this paper from the very start of the semester, we'd like to offer you some suggestions for the how best to approach it. Remember that a key aspect of this assignment is for you to gain experience trying to read an actual landscape while comparing what you find in that place today with historical documents that will help you interpret how it was different in the past. We fully understand that you don't know enough to construct a complete or fully accurate narrative of environmental changes that have shaped your chosen place. What were looking for instead is that you take a long, careful look at the place and try to see it with unfamiliar eyes, taking nothing for granted but looking at everything you see there as if you'd never seen it before. Then ask how the things you see might have come to be there. The trick is to ask as many questions as you can about landscapes you ordinarily take for granted. Use materials from the readings and from the lectures to help you think about the kinds of questions you want to ask, and do the best job you can answering these questions using the evidence you can find on the ground.

To help you learn the research skills you'll be using in investigating and writing about your place, a group of my graduate students and I created a special website on Learning Historical Research, designed especially for this place paper assignment, which I encourage you to explore in detail: www.williamcronon.net/researching/. It has many tips and suggestions that are likely to be helpful to you not just for this paper but for work you do in other courses as well. You are also strongly encouraged to read as early in the semester as you can the entirety of the classic book by Wayne Booth, Gregory Colomb, and Joseph Williams entitled The Craft of Research.

If you're having trouble choosing a place to write about, consider these suggestions right here in Madison; most can easily be applied to other locations as well:

  • Walk along a railroad track for a mile or more (the one behind the Kohl Center that has become a bike path west of the campus power plant might be a good choice) and think about its relation to the surrounding landscape. Ask how adjacent sites relate to the railroad, and how those relations may have changed with time. In what ways does the railroad divide the surrounding land, and in what ways does it connect it?  How might these divisions and connections have changed with time?

  • Spend an hour or two in a cemetery and see what you can learn from it as a historical document (Forest Hill and Resurrection cemeteries, on both sides of the Speedway, just beyond Madison's West High School on Regent Street, are excellent for this exercise). What can you learn about the lives of those who are buried there: how long they lived, how they died, what their family relations were, etc.? What does the changing iconography of gravestones and monuments tell you about their attitudes toward life, death, and their place in the natural world? How does the physical form of the cemetery itself (as opposed to individual graves) reflect cultural attitudes toward nature? A group of UW-Madison graduate students produced a wonderful on-line guide to Forest Hill Cemetery that you can peruse here: foresthill.williamcronon.net. An excellent general guide to cemeteries is Douglas Keister's Stories in Stone: A Field Guide to Cemetery Symbolism and Iconography, NB1800 K45 2004. There is a walking tour of Forest Hill Cemetery and other resources available at this link: www.cityofmadison.com/parks/find-a-park/cemetery/. And there are very detailed guides to the people buried in Madison's two main cemeteries: Forest Hill Cemetery: A Biographical Guide to Forest Hill Cemetery and Bishops to Bootleggers: A Biographical Guide to Resurrection Cemetery. These are available for online download from the top of this page: foresthill.williamcronon.net/learn-more.

  • Drive or bike west from the UW stadium along Regent Street, Speedway, and Mineral Point Road until you're well out into the agricultural countryside (if you can, go as far as Pine Bluff, or even to the point where the road finally ends at Highway 78, which would be a round trip of 20-30 miles). (This is in fact the drive described in one of this course's lectures entitled "A Path Out of Town.") As you ride, look very closely at the changing spatial arrangement of streets, buildings, and settlement patterns. How do houses change?  Look at their sizes, styles, presence or absence of garages and porches, nearness to neighboring houses, sizes of front and back yards, relation of residential and non-residential buildings, etc., etc. Look at the presence or absence of green space. As you drive west, you're essentially moving through neighborhoods that were built in each succeeding decade of the twentieth century. The spatial changes you see directly reflect chronological changes in the history of Madison's built environment and its relations to the surrounding landscape.

  • Try comparing two different residential neighborhoods in Madison and writing a brief paper on the key differences you notice between them. The City of Madison's Department of Planning & Development has put together a good series of walking tours you can take of historic neighborhoods in the city, easily accessed as downloadable documents from www.ci.madison.wi.us/planning/walkTour.html. You might try taking one or more of these tours, and then write about what you see along the way. Just be careful not to write a paper that simply reports what you learn from the tour booklet; be sure really to look carefully at what you see and write about the landscape itself, supplementing the guide with additional library research wherever possible.

  • Find the Lost City in the southeast part of the UW Arboretum and see what you can figure out about its past. This is an old failed subdivision from the early twentieth century which is now completely overgrown (it could be harder to find in deep snow!). You can find a map of where to locate it in the Arboretum visitors center, and you could read about its past in Nancy Sachse's book, A Thousand Ages, QK 479 S16 1974.

  • Walk to the end of Picnic Point and spend time looking at the skyline of Madison. Think about the different human elements that make up that skyline, and ask yourself how and when they might have come to be there. Then go examine those same elements close up and read what you can from their sites. You may benefit from exploring the very detailed prize-winning website and digital map for UW-Madison's Lakeshore Nature Preserve, which includes a great deal of historical information at www.lakeshorepreserve.wisc.edu/.

Remember, the most important goal of this assignment is to look at a place, ask questions about it, and think about its past with reference to the historical and geographical phenomena you've learned about in this course. This is much harder when you're worrying about it in the abstract than when you're actually doing it. It really doesnt matter what place you pick. You could literally go to anywhere in Madison or your hometown and take a random walk through a neighborhood, thinking about everything you see along the way, and write a great paper based on it.

We ask you to explore your place not just in the present, but in the past. Although you can partly do this by looking for remnants of the past in the place as it is today, you'll also need to do significant archival research to locate old documents--newspapers, maps, travelers accounts, photographs, advertisements, and so on--that will give you insight into what your place was like in the past. For instance, looking at old photographs can be wonderfully suggestive about how your place has changed in the past.

If you're writing about Madison, there are three excellent photographic histories of the city and the university on reserve at Helen C. White Library: David Mollenhoff's Madison: A History of the Formative Years, F589 M157 M64 1982, 2003; Arthur Hove's The University of Wisconsin: A Pictorial History, LD 6128 H68 1991; and Stuart Levitan's Madison: The Illustrated Sesquicentennial History, Vol. 1, 1856-1931, F589 M157 L48 2006. There should be copies not just on reserve but in the non-circulating reference collection; multiple copies of Mollenhoff's book are in the Geography Library in Science Hall and the Wisconsin Historical Society Library as well. Even if you only spend half an hour looking through these, they could be extremely helpful to you, especially if you're having trouble with the assignment. (These books are also an excellent source of images to get you thinking about the first assignment for the course.)

There are a number of ways you could learn more about your chosen place. The suggestions I've listed below relate mainly to Wisconsin places, but most would be equally well suited to other parts of the country as well. Many of these would likely be very helpful not just for the place paper, but for the first assignment too.

  • Look at old photographs. The State Historical Society's Iconographic Collection (located in the Archives on the 4th floor) has a vast collection of images of places from Wisconsin and elsewhere. Nothing is better than a picture for helping you see a past place and relate it to the present. A number of these images (though by no means all!) are now available for on-line search and access at www.wisconsinhistory.org/whi/.

  • Look at a series of maps of your chosen place to see how it has changed over time. The Cartographic Library in Science Hall can be very helpful here. Aerial photographs might also be very suggestive if they're available. Many maps of Wisconsin are available online via the Wisconsin Historical Society's website at www.wisconsinhistory.org/Content.aspx?dsNav=N:1166.

  • If you've chosen an urban place, try exploring the amazing collection of bird's-eye views, most published during the nineteenth century, that have been digitized on the Library of Congress's American Memory website. The URL for these is: memory.loc.gov/ammem/gmdhtml/gmdhome.html, with the bird's-eye views under Panoramic Maps (as you'll see, there are many other cool maps on the Library of Congress site as well!). Check under "Cities and Towns" and search for the place about which you're writing, but don't hesitate to explore other parts of the website as well. The American Memory website is an extraordinary source for digital documents: photos, maps, texts, almost anything you can think of. There's a comparable collection of Wisconsin bird's-eye views at www.wisconsinhistory.org/Content.aspx?dsNav=N:4294963828-4294963805&dsNavOnly=N:1166&dsRecordDetails=R:CS3337; check out the Madison ones for the first assignment!

  • In the late 1920s or early 1930s, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources produced a remarkable series of Land Economic Inventory Maps which show the uses of land for every township in the state. You can read more about these maps at www.library.wisc.edu/steenbock/wisconsin-land-economic-inventory-the-bordner-survey-land-cover-maps/, and access the actual maps at uwdc.library.wisc.edu/collections/EcoNatRes/WILandInv under Land Economic Inventory.

  • If you want to go even further back in time, you could look at the original land survey records of the 1830s and 1840s, getting a rough sense of what the land looked like when the first American surveyors came through to impose the grid system upon it. These maps, along with the original surveyors' notes, are also now available on-line, so you can peruse them for places you know at libtext.library.wisc.edu/SurveyNotes/.

  • Track the changing population of the place in the manuscript census, which is available for every year between 1840 and 1940 except 1890 (for which the census records were destroyed in a fire). Microfilms of the census for every state in the country are available at the Historical Society. These will tell you who lived in a place, their family relationships, their birth places, their occupations, etc. If you're writing about a rural place in Wisconsin, you should also look at the manuscript records of the Agricultural Census, which give you a complete picture of the crops and animals raised on every farm in the state during the census years. These are in the Historical Society too, in the Archives on the 4th floor.

  • If you're studying an urban area, look at old city directories, which often list the residents and businesses of a community not just alphabetically but according to their street address. A directory enables you almost literally to walk down the same street in the past that you've walked down in the present, seeing how the people and businesses have changed in the interval. The Historical Society has a large collection of these for most cities in Wisconsin and many in other parts of the country as well.

  • Look at old county atlases or histories for your place. These were published for many counties in the Midwest primarily in the 1870s through the 1890s, so can give you lots of interesting information about your place during the nineteenth century. The Historical Society has an excellent collection, and a number of them are available online.

And of course: talk with people who have lived in your place for a long time.


It is very important for you to keep track of, acknowledge, and be respectful of the sources you use in writing your place paper. The Web has made it so easy for students to copy and paste information they find online that it may be tempting for you simply to paste some of this material into what we write. Don't ever do this. Plagiarism is a very serious ethical infraction--pretending that someone elses work is your own--and will get you into serious trouble if it's discovered. To learn more about plagiarism and how to avoid it, consult the following online resources:
UW-Madison Writing Center: writing.wisc.edu/Handbook/QuotingSources.html
Yale Writing Center: writing.yalecollege.yale.edu/advice-students/using-sources/understanding-and-avoiding-plagiarism  


This semester, the History Department is again offering its History Lab to serve as resource center where experts (PhD students) will assist you with your history papers. No matter your stage in the writing process--choosing a topic, conducting research, composing a thesis, outlining your argument, revising your drafts--the History Lab staff is here, along with your professors and teaching assistants, to help you sharpen your skills and become a more successful writer. Sign up for a one-on-one consultation online: go.wisc.edu/hlab


Because the majority of lectures take place in a darkened room with PowerPoint presentations, because bright laptop screens are distracting to other students in this environment, and because the temptation to multitask has become so enormous now that wireless connections to the Internet are available in most lecture halls, the use of laptop computers, cell phones, or other screen-based devices is NOT permitted during lectures or discussion sections. If you have a medical reason for needing to use a laptop or other screen-based device that has been authorized by the McBurney Center, please let us know so we can discuss strategies for your use of these devices that will be minimally disruptive to other students.


If you are a McBurney student who needs any special accommodations for the course, please make sure your section leader is aware of your situation as early in the semester as possible, and well in advance of any examinations for which accommodations will be required.


IMPORTANT: In the following outline, lecture topics are arranged into thematic "weeks" that do NOT correspond with ordinary calendar weeks, so don't be confused about this. At least prior to the mid-term exam, most "weeks" consist of a Wednesday lecture, the following Monday lecture, and the following section; this way, all discussion sections will be assured of having heard the same lectures and done the same readings by the time they meet. Occasionally, one of these thematic "weeks" may involve a number of lectures less than or more than two. The parenthetic number after each week's title is the approximate number of pages of reading assigned for that week.


SECTION: Sept 6-7: Introductions

Sept 7: The Portage: A Small Place in Large Contexts

Sept 12: What Is Landscape and Why Should We Care About it?

SECTION: Sept 13-14: Campus Tours

William Cronon, "Landscape and Home: Environmental Traditions in Wisconsin," Wisconsin Magazine of History (Winter 1990-91), 83-105. Downloadable from my website here: PDF

You should also start reading the numerous short essays assigned for our sections on Sept 20-21.


Sept 14: An Introduction to North America

Sept 19: Online Cartography: Tools for Landscape Reading, Past and Present

SECTION: Sept 20-21: Explore the “Learning Historical Research” website at www.williamcronon.net/researching/, especially the “How to Read a Landscape” web page at www.williamcronon.net/researching/landscapes.htm.

D. W. Meinig, ed., The Interpretation of Ordinary Landscapes: Geographical Essays (1979), 1-48 (includes "Introduction," 1-7; Peirce F. Lewis, "Axioms for Reading the Landscape: Some Guides to the American Scene," 11-32; and D. W. Meinig, "The Beholding Eye: Ten Versions of the Same Scene," 33-48). (Library E-reserves) Eric Sloane, "Fences and Walls," Our Vanishing Landscape (1955), 27-35. (Library E-reserves)

Grady Clay, "Breaks," in Close-Up: How to Read the American City (1973), 38-52. (Library E-reserves)

David B. Williams, "America's Building Stone: Indiana Limestone," Stories in Stone: Travels Through Urban Geology (2009), 112-32. (Library E-reserves)

Dale F. Ritter, "The Geological Perception of Landscape," in George F. Thompson, ed., Landscape in America (1995), 61-72. (Library E-reserves)

May Theilgaard Watts, "Camp Sites, Fires, and Cud Chewers, Or, How the Upland Forest Changes from Illinois to Wisconsin," Reading the Landscape (1957), 109-26. (Library E-reserves)

Kate Ascher, "Water," The Works: Anatomy of a City (2005), 151-69. (Library E-reserves)

Virginia & Lee McAlester, "Looking at American Houses: Style," A Field Guide to American Houses (1984), 4-16. (Library E-reserves)

Betty Flanders Thomson, "Man on the Land: A Thumbnail History," The Shaping of the Heartland: The Landscape of the Middle West (1977), 223-50. (Library E-reserves)

UW-Madison Archives Tours (times to be confirmed):
Wed Sept 14, 9-10am, 4-5pm
Thurs Sept 15, 3-4pm
Mon Sept 19 4-5pm
Tues Sept 20 3-4pm


Sept 21: Mapping the Continent: A Tour of Cartographic History

Sept 26: Names on the Land: Place Names as Historical Evidence

SECTION: Sept 27-28: Tools for Exploring the UW-Madison Campus Past and Present
Nadia Wheatley & Donna Rawlins, My Place (1989), 1-50 (Library E-reserves: an Australian children's book that is highly relevant to this course and well worth reading carefully)

Burr Angle, Dolores Kester & Ann Waidelich, Origins of Some Madison, Wisconsin, Street Names (2010). (Library E-reserves. You need not need to read this cover-to-cover; just read the five pages of Part I and then peruse sections about parts of the city that interest you to get an overview of Madison place-naming practices.)

Assignment: Map Library Exercise (turn in at start of section)

You should have identified by now the photograph(s) about which you'd like write in your first paper.

WEEK 4: A PLACE FOR STORIES (29+148 - half of Car Country)

Sept 28: Periodizing Landscape Change: Which (and Whose) Narratives to Choose?

Oct 3: Telling Tales on Canvas: Mythic Narratives of Frontier Change

Writing Assignment: First Paper due at start of lecture on Monday, October 3.

SECTION: Oct 4-5: Come prepared to describe your first paper and what you learned from writing it.

William Cronon, "A Place for Stories: Nature, History, and Narrative," Journal of American History 78:4 (March, 1992), p.1347-1376. PDF

(Start reading Car Country for next week.)

WEEK 5: TRANSPORT TALES (148 - half of Car Country)

Oct 5: A Path Out of Town: Driving West from Madison's Capitol Square

Oct 10: Rivers and Harbors, Roads and Rails, Highways and Airports: Movement Transformed

Oct 11-12: SECTION: Chris Wells, Car Country (entire)

Assignment: You'll be asked to bring to section and briefly explain to your classmates a print-out from a satellite view of Google Maps (https://www.google.com/maps) or Bing Maps (https://www.bing.com/maps/) of a landscape feature that illustrates an important argument in Car Country.


Oct 12: The Many Worlds of Indian Country

Oct 17: Course of Empires: Spain, France, Britain, and the United States

Oct 17, 7:00-8:30pm: Special Evening Review Session for Midterm Exam

SECTION: Oct 18-19: Reviewing for Mid-Term Exam


Oct 19: Midterm Exam

Oct 24: Exploring Past Landscapes: An Introduction to Your Place Paper...and to UW-Madison Libraries

SECTION: Oct 25-26: In section this week, you'll be asked to talk about the place you've chosen for your final paper, and the themes from the course that you think you'll be able explore while writing about how your place has changed over time.

Please read Wayne C. Booth, et al., The Craft of Research (2009) in the next couple weeks as background preparation for your research and writing for the place paper.

Please also study the Learning Historical Research website at www.williamcronon.net/researching/ in next couple weeks.

NB: During the next two weeks, the staff of the Wisconsin Historical Society will offer tours of their collections, which will be absolutely invaluable for your place paper. Be sure to take one of these tours if you possibly can.

Wisconsin Historical Society Tours (times to be confirmed):
Wednesday, Oct 19, 4:00-5:00pm
Thursday, Oct 20, 4:00-5:00pm 
Monday, Oct 24, 4:00-5:00pm
Tuesday, Oct 25, 9:00-10:00am
Wednesday, Oct 26, 4:00-5:00pm


Oct 26: On Serendipity: The Great Diamond Hoax ... and a Secret Marriage

Oct 31: Underground Landscapes of Wealth and Work

SECTION: Nov 8-9: Thomas Andrews, "Dying with Their Boots On," Killing for Coal: Americas Deadliest Labor War (2008), 122-56. (Library E-reserves)

Kathryn Morse, "The Nature of Gold Mining," The Nature of Gold: An Environmental History of the Klondike Gold Rush (2003), 89-114. (Library E-reserves)

Robert Service, "The Trail of Ninety-Eight," Ballads of Cheechako (1909). (Library E-reserves)

Martha A. Sandweiss, Passing Strange: A Gilded Age Tale of Love and Deception Across the Color Line (2009), 1-10. (Library E-reserves)


Nov 2: Slave and Free: Plantations and Homesteads

Nov 7: Landscapes Made Red: Military Geographies

SECTION: Nov 1-2: Mark Fiege, "King Cotton: The Plant and Southern Slavery, Environmental History and the Civil War" and "The Nature of Gettysburg: Environmental History and the Civil War," in Fiege, The Republic of Nature: An Environmental History of the United States (2012), 100-138, 199-227. (Library E-reserves)

Michael Shaara, The Killer Angels, "3. Buford," 35-52. (Library E-reserves)

Anne Kelly Knowles et al, "What Could Lee See at Gettysburg?" in Knowles, ed., Placing History: How Maps, Spatial Data, and GIS Are Changing Historical Scholarship (2008), 235-65. (Library E-reserves


Nov 9: Bounding Property: Survey and Sale

Nov 14: Bonanza Farms and Boards of Trade

SECTION: Nov 15-16: William Cronon, Nature's Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West (1991), 5-147, 207-59, 371-85.


Nov 16: Forests: The Westward March of Logging

Nov 21: Symbols of Place and Nation (guest lecture by Ben Kasten)

Writing Assignment: Place paper due at start of lecture on Monday, November 21.

NO SECTIONS THIS WEEK Nov 22-23: (Thanksgiving)

Read: Cronon, Nature's Metropolis, 148-206.


Nov 23: Weaving an Often Forgotten Web: Systems, Networks, Infrastructures

(Nov 24: Thanksgiving)

Nov 28: Built Environments of Domesticity and Commerce

SECTION: Nov 29-30: Come prepared to make a brief presentation on your place paper.

Kenneth Jackson, The Crabgrass Frontier: The Suburbanization of the United States (1985), 172-218, 231-71. (Library E-reserves)


Nov 30: Zoned America: Partitioning Places and People

Dec 5: Color Lines: Human Boundaries of a Partitioned World

SECTION: Dec 6-7: Mark Fiege, "The Road to Brown v. Board: An Environmental History of the Color Line," in Fiege, The Republic of Nature: An Environmental History of the United States (2012), 318-57. (Library E-reserves)

Sam Bass Warner, Jr., "Saving Yesterday's Property," The Urban Wilderness: A History of the American City (1972), 15-52. (Library E-reserves)

Robert Caro, "One Mile," The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York (1974), 850-894. (Library E-reserves)

Andres Duany, Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, & Jeff Speck, “Appendix A: The Traditional Neighborhood Development Checklist,” Suburban Nation: The Rise of Sprawl and the Decline of the American Dream (2000), 245-52. (Library E-reserves)


Dec 7: Destinations: Parks, Monuments, Ski Resorts, Disneyland, Las Vegas

Dec 12: Practicing Landscape History for Yourself

SECTION: Dec 13-14: Reviewing for final exam and wrapping up the semester: why read landscapes?

Dec 12, 7:00-8:30pm: Special Evening Review Session for Final Exam

Dec 14: Final Exam (in-class)