Environmental History of the US in Three Parts: Part I with John Cumbler
Five Fridays from 4-6 p.m. on April 21, 28, May 5, 12, 19 at the W.H.A.T Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater.
Scientists have come to say that the Holocene Epoch for the last 20,000 years has now ended, and we have now entered the Anthropocene geologic era in which human activity is the dominant influence on the physical world. This is a huge shift in geological history going back to the very formation of the earth.
This course is the first of three that will explore how we arrived at the Anthropocene Epoch, with focus on North America. Part One will look at how humans shaped the physical world in North America and how the physical world affected that shaping. It will begin at the dawn of the Holocene age and end with the forces that set the stage for the Anthropocene. The course will be a hybrid of lecture and discussion. We will focus our reading around Henry David Thoreau’s “Walden.” We will also discuss Thoreau’s “A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers.” Students will be expected to carefully read “Walden,” and to keep in mind I am not interested in Transcendentalism but in Thoreau’s serious critique of the New England economy.
Thoreau, “A Week…”
George Perkins Marsh, “Man and Nature”
Brian Donahue, “The Great Meadow”
John Cumbler, “Reasonable Use,”