"The Portage: Reflections on Nature, History, and Storytelling in the Making of an American Place"
In a lecture based on the opening chapter of the book he is writing on the history of Portage, Wisconsin, environmental historian William Cronon meditates on the role of memory and storytelling in the complicated ways human beings construct their individual and collective sense of place. A natural ecosystem or an abstract geographical space becomes a human place, he argues, through the endless accretion of narratives that render that place meaningful for those who visit or live in it. Portage is an especially interesting community in which to explore this idea, since it was the home town of Frederick Jackson Turner, the American historian who authored the famous "frontier thesis." It was also the town into whose hinterland John Muir migrated as an eleven-year-old boy from Scotland, and the town where Aldo Leopold's "Shack," famed subject of the book A Sand County Almanac, is located. Although virtually unknown to most Americans, few places have played so central a role in shaping our national ideas of nature.
William J. Cronon is the Frederick Jackson Turner and Vilas Research Professor of History, Geography, and Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He will be delivering a lecture based on his book project about the environmental history and historical geography of Portage, Wisconsin. He is a Past President of the American Historical Association and author of Changes in the Land and Nature's Metropolis. The lecture will last for about 90 minutes and will take place in Honeywell Auditorium (L-110) in the Carlson School starting at 3:30 on Friday, May 3.
Complimentary refreshments and coffee will be served at 3:10 PM. In addition, there will be a reception for alumni and their guests in the Carlson Private Dining Room immediately following the lecture.
William J. Cronon's visit and talk co-sponsored by the Department of History and the Institute for Advanced Study, UMN.