The State of American History

By Herbert J. Bass | Go to book overview
Save to active project

The State of Environmental History

RODERICK NASH

To the rapid traveler the number of elms in a town is the measure of its civility.

-- Henry David Thoreau

Until recently I responded to the student's perennial question -- "Can you recommend something to read over the vacation?" -- by ticking off the usual list of books and articles. I even had a list mimeographed for the eager beavers. About a year ago, however, I altered the pattern. I was walking to my car after delivering the final lecture in the first half of a course in American cultural and intellectual history, when a student came roaring up on a motorbike. "Thanks for the course," he said. "And what could I read to prepare for next quarter?" I started to answer in the accustomed way when I noticed the boy had a sleeping bag and some light camping gear strapped to the bike. I changed my mind. "Forget the books," I said. "Get on that thing, travel as far as you can in the vacation, and 'read' the landscape." He looked startled, so I explained how the environment can be a historical document. The condition of the land, I pointed out, reflects the thought and culture of a people just as clearly as orthodox written evidence. I suggested that he make the environment his text for the next couple of weeks. He did, too, but he returned with a recommendation for a change in the assignment: there was so much to "read" he wished he had left the motorcycle traveled on foot!

On other occasions I have asked an audience to look out the nearest window and consider the face of the land. If there isn't a window, I

-249-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
The State of American History
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 432

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?