Nature Aesthetics and American Nationalism: Curating Cultural Identity Through Rhetoric and Design of National Park Landscapes

Hughes, Ellen
In 2016, "America's Best Idea", the United States National Park System, celebrated a century of national heritage in natural resource stewardship. As the NPS progresses into its next century, reflection on the semiotics of national park tourism offers a critical perspective on meanings of American Nationalism and identity with management implications for a twenty first century audience. This research acknowledges the originating confluences of artistic and literary romanticism, commercialization of natural resources through tourism, and political annexation of public land during the Reconstruction Era in the establishment of an institutional model that advanced the "monumentalism" of nature. This research analyses the varied political ecology of nature through the lens of historic design and rhetoric concerning cultural landscapes, the people within them, and periods of national crises using national park case studies. This research will offer clarifying perspectives on how nature itself became a national monument in these places.
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University of Wyoming Libraries