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The Untilled Garden
Natural History and the Spirit of Conservation in America, 1740–1840


Part of Studies in Environment and History

  • Date Published: September 2009
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521729840

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About the Authors
  • This study traces the origins of conservation thinking in America to the naturalists who explored the middle-western frontier between 1740 and 1840. Their inquiries yielded a comprehensive natural history of America and inspired much of the conservation and ecological thinking we associate with later environmental and ecological philosophy. These explorers witnessed one of the great environmental transformations in American history, as the vast forests lying between the Appalachian Mountains and the Mississippi gave way to a landscape of fields, meadows, and pastures. In debating these changes, naturalists translated classical ideas like the balance of nature and the spiritual unity of all species into an American idiom. This book highlights the contributions made by the generation of natural historians who pioneered the utilitarian, ecological, and aesthetic arguments for protecting or preserving nature in America.

    • Provides a richer, broader understanding of the origins of the conservation tradition in the US
    • Provides a thorough discussion of American natural history as a system of ecological relations – the first detailed account of the state of nature in America – and demonstrates that this ecological understanding was in place well before the Darwinian Revolution in the 1850s
    • Explains how these scientists fixed the idea of nature in the American mind and placed it at the core of our national consciousness
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    Product details

    • Date Published: September 2009
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521729840
    • length: 330 pages
    • dimensions: 230 x 154 x 20 mm
    • weight: 0.44kg
    • contains: 14 b/w illus.
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. Forging a Scientific Community:
    1. 'A country unknown': colonial explorers and their natural history
    2. Rambles in Eden
    3. 'A despairing curiosity': creating America's scientific academy
    Part II. The Natural History of America:
    4. Power and purpose in the geological record: the scientific beginnings of American romanticism
    5. Integrated landscapes: mountains, rivers, and forests in the balance of nature
    6. 'A distant intercourse': animal character and conservation
    Part III. Improvers, Romantics, and the Science of Conservation:
    7. From forest to fruitful field: settlement and improvement in the Western wilderness
    8. The naturalist's mirror: popular science and the roots of romanticism
    10. Challenging the idea of improvement.

  • Instructors have used or reviewed this title for the following courses

    • American Cultural History
    • Beyond Eden: Contact Narratives, Origins and Sin
    • Environmental History
  • Author

    Richard W. Judd, University of Maine, Orono
    Richard W. Judd is Col. James C. McBride Professor of History at the University of Maine and editor of the journal Maine History. He is the author of Natural States: The Environmental Imagination in Maine, Oregon, and the Nation (2003); Common Lands, Common People: The Origins of Conservation in Northern New England (1997); and Maine: The Pine Tree State from Prehistory to the Present (1995). His current research includes a survey of New England's environmental history.

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