History/Geography 932
Topics in American Environmental History

The seminar is a one-semester introduction to some of the most interesting recent literature of American environmental history, read principally for the theories and methodologies it can offer scholars and scientists as well as its implications for contemporary environmental politics and management. The seminar assumes no previous coursework in the field, and students with a wide variety of backgrounds and disciplines are encouraged to participate. We will read a number of the most important works that have been produced in the field during the past twenty years, with an eye to exploring the different themes and methods that have shaped this body of scholarship, trying to assess how the field has evolved and where it might be headed in the future. Our goal will be to evaluate these texts with a critical but sympathetic eye, trying to discover ways in which their approaches might be helpful to our own work. At the same time, we'll use this literature to think about the more general process of conceiving, conducting, and writing research about the past (whether within the disciplines of history, geography, ecology, environmental studies, natural resource management, literature, and others) trying to gain as much practical wisdom as we can about how to do theses and dissertations. We will also talk about strategies for teaching this material in the undergraduate classroom.

During the fall semester of 2015, the seminar will meet from 1:00-4:00pm on Tuesdays in 202-204 Bradley Memorial Hall, home of UW-Madison's Center for Culture, History, and Environment (CHE).


Application form for Fall 2015 (due 4/13/15): pdforpdf


2015 Syllabus (this will evolve over the course of the semester, so if it's incomplete, check back later):

PDF: (optimized for printing):pdf


Additional Readings:

Cronon, "Kennecott Journey" -pdf


Learning to Do Historical Research: A Primer for Environmental Historians and Others html

This large website was the final product of this seminar's work during Fall 2008. Please take the time to peruse it. The Fall 2010 version of the seminar will create a comparable product on the environmental history of food and agriculture in the United States from colonial times to the present.


Examples of Online Resources for Helping Students Learn to Do Historical Research:

Bowdoin College Guide to Reading, Writing, and Researching for History: http://academic.bowdoin.edu/WritingGuides/

Yale University Senior Essay Handbook: http://www.yale.edu/history/senior_essay.html

Zachary Schrag's Guidelines for History Students: http://www.schrag.info/ (look under Guidelines for History Students)


Page revision date: 15-Sep-2015