December, 2016

A Note by frederick Steiner on Environmental Readings 2016:

A long, deep green thread exists in American literature from Ralph Waldo Emerson and Walt Whitman through Herman Melville and William Carlos Williams and on to Terry Tempest Williams, Wendell Berry, and Colson Whitehead. This literature has influenced how we perceive our environments and, in the process, many planners, designers, and conservationists, including Frederick Law Olmsted, Jane Addams, Aldo Leopold, Lewis Mumford, Ian McHarg, and Anne Whiston Spirn. My University of Texas at Austin Environmental Readings courses traced this thread and its effects on how we shape our landscapes through design and planning.

The essays that follow are by students who were in the class in the spring of 2016 and emerged out of spirited and collegial exchange in the seminar meetings. The collection of essays Is Landscape… ? provided an open question framework for exploring how we might understand “nature” and the built environment in a rich variety of ways. By examining topics such as cultural preservation, spiritual ecology, space/place, performance, dance, film, urbanism, heritage, tradition, and innovation, several related threads emerged over the course of the semester and are represented in the essays collected in this volume. The insight shared across the conversation presented in these pages is that landscapes are fundamentally inseparable from the people who observe, experience, study, shape, and inhabit them.

Frederick Steiner
Dean and Paley Professor, School of Design, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia

Read the 2016 Environmental Readings essays here

Environmental Readings cover

Anna Nau

photo of Anna Nau

Frederick Steiner

photo of Frederick Steiner
Jena AlexanderDouglas Norman