SampleB NRES287Assignment1 - In his Uncommon Ground William...

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In his Uncommon Ground , William Cronon discusses the trouble with wilderness. This uniquely American creation is not a pure part of nature unaffected by humans, but rather an idea created by humans. Cronon refers to two cultural constructs from which wilderness stems: the idea of a sublime, pristine landscape and that of a new frontier. Viewing nature as sublime was borne out of romanticism in the eighteenth century. A landscape untouched by man was thought to be a place where God’s presence could be experienced. This spiritual perspective is complemented by the other notion that shaped wilderness: the frontier. Nineteenth century America became overcome with a respect the frontier, where America gained its footing, as Americans were able to settle and make their mark on new land. Unsettled land, viewed as an important element in forming the nation, was highly valued. Wilderness became a place people could use to escape society and its norms; freedom was found here. These two social creations shaped wilderness into the sacred area it is today, according to Cronon. Rather than being natural, wilderness is invented. Cronon addresses a matter I had not previously considered and struck me as interesting: the construct of wilderness creates a separation between society and nature. The guilt society should feel for actions detrimental to the environment are reconciled by the satisfaction of the existence of a spiritual landscape protected from human activity. This can be dangerous, as it hinders efforts to confront and resolve environmental issues. If society is separate from nature,
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This note was uploaded on 07/12/2011 for the course NRES 287 taught by Professor Flint during the Spring '08 term at University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign.

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SampleB NRES287Assignment1 - In his Uncommon Ground William...

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