"Understanding Ordinary Landscapes" by Paul Groth

Understanding Ordinary Landscapes Paul Groth, Todd W. Bressi

Publication date:
13 Nov 1997
Yale University Press
284 pages: 229 x 152mm
67 b-w illus.

How does knowledge of everyday environments foster deeper understanding of both past and present cultural life? In this book authorities in social history, architectural history, American studies, cultural geography, and landscape architecture explore aspects of the emergent field of cultural landscape studies, demonstrating the value of investigating the many meanings of ordinary settings.

While traditional studies in this field have been of rural life, most of the authors in this collection take on urban subjects, and with them the challenging issues of power, class, race, ethnicity, subculture, and cultural opposition. There is a chapter by J.B. Jackson, the field’s foremost proponent and exemplar, on the nature of the vernacular house and the garage. Some of the other contributors include James Borchert on the social stratification of Cleveland suburbs; Rina Swentzell on a comparison of native and federal environments on the Santa Clara Pueblo in New Mexico; Reuben Rainey on the Gettysburg battlefield; Dolores Hayden on the potentials of ethnic landscape documentation; and Denis Cosgrove on spectacle and society. Still other authors Wilbur Zelinsky, Richard Walker, Dell Upton, David Lowenthal, Jay Appleton, and Robert Riley—explore the problems and potentials of vision and space as sources of social interpretation. The book also includes a historical review of recent trends in the field of landscape studies and an annotated bibliography.

"This is a very substantial collection, containing a great deal of thoughtful and important writing from a truly diverse set of authors. . . . Understanding Ordinary Landscapes is essential reading and no doubt will . . . become a long-term invaluable resource for students of the American cultural landscape."?Michael Martin, Landscape Journal