By Design: Modernism and the Legacies of Nineteenth-Century Landscapes
Gertrude Stein declared the nineteenth century “the dead dead dead nineteenth century.” Ezra Pound called on poets to give up their extensive symbolic codes and Victorian ornamentation in order to “let a hawk be a hawk.” Despite the animosity, or at least impatience, with Victorian conventions, modernists never explicitly repudiated nineteenth-century designed landscapes, the extension of Victorian aesthetic ideologies. In fact, the frequency of nature tropes in modernist writing would suggest that nineteenth century landscape design was left unexamined, that modernists assumed that nature was external to culture. With the campaign to save Hetch Hetchy Valley, Harriet Monroe may have acted with an advanced sense of the dangers of encroaching on nature’s limited reserves, but her activism also upholds a Romantic notion of a sublime and beautiful, untrammeled nature. This panel seeks papers that explore this elision of nature and ideology, and the perhaps unintentional ruptures when modernists articulate unconventional conceptions of nature that we might now recognize as sophisticatedly anthropocene. Particularly welcomed are papers that investigate the confluences of landscape and social contact that invent new social, sexual, racial, historic and civic frontiers within public green spaces.
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