280 pages, 8 col plates, 46 halftones
Walden Pond; The Grand Canyon; Yosemite National Park. Throughout the twentieth century, photographers and filmmakers created unforgettable images of these and other American natural treasures. Many of these images, including the work of Ansel Adams, continue to occupy a prominent place in the American imagination. Making these representations, though, was more than a purely aesthetic project. In fact, portraying majestic scenes and threatened places galvanized concern for the environment and its protection.
" Natural Visions" documents through images the history of environmental reform from the Progressive era to the first Earth Day celebration in 1970, showing the crucial role the camera played in the development of the conservation movement. In "Natural Visions," Finis Dunaway tells the story of how visual imagery - such as wilderness photographs, New Deal documentary films, and Sierra Club coffee-table books - shaped modern perceptions of the natural world. By examining the relationship between the camera and environmental politics through detailed studies of key artists and activists, Dunaway captures the emotional and spiritual meaning that became associated with the American landscape.
Throughout the book, he reveals how photographers and filmmakers adapted longstanding traditions in American culture - the Puritan jeremiad, the romantic sublime, and the frontier myth - to literally picture nature as a place of grace for the individual and the nation.
In Natural Visions, Dunaway takes us on a cultural tour of many of the most politically powerful environmental images of the twentieth century, using a richly biographical approach to situate images within their full contexts. - Thomas Robertson, American Quarterly "Well written, and at times even poetic, Natural Visions is a compelling study with much to offer both general readers and specialists in environmental representation." - Daniel J. Philippon, Environmental History "It is the artists behind the images who interest [Dunaway] most, in particular the way they were carried along by, or leaned against, the political and cultural winds, and how their actions led to the modern environmental movement. He has a fine eye for subtleties, and a light touch." - Michael Bond, New Scientist"
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Finis Dunaway is assistant professor of history at Trent University in Canada. he is the author of Seeing Green: The Use and Abuse of American Environmental Images.