Back to Nature: The Arcadian Myth in Urban America
Peter J. Schmitt describes the many ways in which America's urban middle class became involved with nature from the turn of the century to shortly after World War I, and he assesses the influence of the "Arcadian myth" on American culture. With sympathy and gently irony, he surveys the manifestations of the American love affair with the country: summer camps, the beginnings of wildlife protection and the conservation crusade, landscaped cemeteries, "Christian ornithology", and wilderness novels. The Arcadian drive reflected urban values, as the city-dweller sought virtue in nature. Landscape gardening, country clubs, national parks, and scenic turnoffs imposed the industrial ethic of order, neatness, and regularity on natural landscapes. Nature study and anthropomorphic animal stories taught moral values to children.
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