Discussion Questions

1. What are some examples of the transportation, market, and industrial revolutions? What were, and still are today, the environmental effects of each of your examples?

2. What conflicts are there between the values associated with nature and the values associated with civilization? How do you account for the ambivalence?

3. Compare and contrast George Catlin's view of Indians with the attitudes of earlier writers. How do you account for any changes?

4. How did African American women depict nature and wilderness in pre-Civil War America?  As discussed in the documents and essays, in what ways did these relationships to nature differ from those of whites and Indians?  How did they differ from those of men?

5. What is meant by transcendentalism and how is it exemplified by Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau?  Why might such a philosophy have arisen in nineteenth century New England?

6. In what ways might the daily activities of a fox as described by Thoreau reflect a "nonanthropocentric perspective" on nature and environmental history? Compare Thoreau's "fox's perspective" at Walden Pond in the nineteenth century with a "beaver's perspective" during the fur trade of the seventeenth century.

7. What techniques did Hudson River School artists use to contrast nature and civilization? How did environmental perception, as expressed in the works of these painters, differ from the reality of how nature was used?