Autumn 2012 Essay Question (60% of exam total) Only two of these questions will appear on the exam; you are required to answer one. For grading criteria, see the handout “Grading Criteria for Essay Exams,” available on the course website.
Read each question carefully and then chose one question to answer. In all cases, you should provide specific examples to support your positions. Where relevant, you should draw on material from both lectures and readings; failure to do so will lower your grade on the question. 1. It has long been typical to think of European settlers in North America as engaged in a process of “conquering” nature in North America—that is, imposing European visions and practices on the landscape. How accurate is that conception? Describe the visions that colonial settlers carried with them to New England, the Chesapeake, and the Carolina low-country, the outcomes in each of these locations, and then consider whether you would describe these colonial projects as examples of the “conquest of nature” or something else.
2. For many generations, the histories told about the United States were based primarily on the history of the New England region, but standard histories neglected the role of the environment/nature. Tell the history of New England as an environmental history from just before European contact (c. 1500) to about 1850. In your answer, you should (1) identify the major periods and/or historical turning points from an environmental perspective; (2) discuss the principal ways in which people utilized this landscape in each period; and (3) consider how cultural understandings of the environment shifted across these periods.
3. Industrialization had far-reaching impacts on the North American continent, resulting in the radical reorganization of both landscapes and society. Describe the effects of industrialization on the landscapes and people of (1) New England (2) the deep South; and (3) an eastern industrial city such as Pittsburgh or New York. Based on these examples, what generalizations, if any, can you make about the impacts of industrialization?
4. By the latter part of the nineteenth century, Americans had begun to respond to the negative environmental effects of capitalist industrialization through both cultural expression and political mobilization. How effective were these efforts? Compare and contrast the (two) responses that we have studied. Your answer should discuss the contexts that gave rise to these movements, the primary social groups they engaged (e.g., their class, race, and/or gender), the forms that these movements took, and their most important political and/or social effects.
5. During the nineteenth century, several North American animal species were driven to near-extinction. Discuss the reasons for the decline of the (1) the Pacific sea otter; (2) the bison on the southwestern Plains; and (3) Atlantic salmon in the Merrimack River system. Were the reasons for each of these population declines unique, or do you see some common forces at work across all three?
Short Answers (40% of exam total) Seven of these will appear on the midterm; you are required to answer five. (If you answer more than five, we will grade only the first five.) Each short-answer question will be graded on an abbreviated decimal scale in the following manner: A/A+=4.0; A-/B+=3.5; B=3.0; B-/C+=2.5; C=2.0; C-/D+=1.5; D=1.0; D-/F+ =0.5; F=0.
For each of the following, you should briefly identify, date (approximately, where applicable), and, most importantly, describe the larger significance of the term to U.S. environmental history.
White Man’s foot
Women’s Work in Municipalities Indian Removal
The Oxbow, or the View from Mount Holyoke, Northampton, Massachusetts, after a Thunderstorm teosinte
Great Peace of 1840
Boston Manufacturing Company
Report on the Arid Lands of the United States Of Plymouth Plantation ecological release
Valle de Mezquital
tidal rice cultivation
Dedham Grant deed