Chapter Outline

I. Nature and Civilization in Conflict

Discussion Questions

1. What examples of the transportation, market, and industrial revolutions can you find in the documents and essays? What were the environmental effects of each of your examples?

2. What conflicts between the values associated with nature and the values associated with civilization can you find in the documents? 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. What is meant by transcendentalism and how is it exemplified by Emerson and Thoreau? Why might such a philosophy have arisen in nineteenth century New England?

5. What similarities and differences can you find between the idealized subsistence farmers of Crèvecoeur and Jefferson (Chapter 5), and Thoreau (Chapter 6)? How would you characterize Thoreau's ethic concerning nature?

6. In what ways does Robert Kuhn McGregor's reconstruction of the activities of a female fox reflect a nonanthropocentric perspective on environmental history? Compare McGregor's "female fox's perspective" and James O'Brien's "beaver's perspective" (Chapter 3) as approaches to environmental history.

7. Drawing on the poems of Phillis Wheatley and the essay by Annette Kolodny, as well as earlier documents, discuss the various ways in which nature is gendered (for example, nature as female, virgin, mother, or wife, or the sun as male). What are some potential implications of gendering for the environment?

8. Examine the three paintings by the Hudson River School for specific ways in which the artists contrast nature and civilization. How, according to Michael Heiman, did environmental perception, as expressed in the works of these painters, differ from the reality of how nature was used?