the Great Border Fault : The Naturalist Myth in America by
In recent years scholars have begun to question the
cultural values underlying how we view nature. Kevin Dann contributes to
this debate by juxtaposing two radically different "Arcadian"
experiments in the early twentieth century by Manhattanites seeking
cultural renewal through contact with the natural world. Dann first
looks at the initiatives of the American Museum of Natural History from
1910 to 1940 at Harriman State Park. He argues that these were
expressions of the early, "back-to-nature" movement whose
underlying biological materialism, or "Naturalism" was
integral to American popular culture of the time.
These activities are contrasted with social
experiments at nearby Threefold Farm in Ramapo, New York, where
anthroposophists- followers of Rudolf Steiner's "spiritual
science"- developed a program of natural scientific research and
education in opposition to Darwinism and its social applications as well
as reductionist scientific methods. By challenging scientific
"fact" with spiritual scientific descriptions, the Threefold
Farm initiative offered Americans a new gospel of nature.
About the Author
Kevin Dann is author of Traces
on the Appalachians: A Natural History of Serpentine in Eastern North
American (from Rutgers University Press), and Bright
Colors Falsely Seen: Synaesthesia and the Search for Transcendental
Knowledge. He is the director of LandMarks Historical Research
and Consulting in Woodstock, Vermont.
to learn more about this book
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