Landscape Theory (The Art Seminar)

Landscape Theory (The Art Seminar)

James Elkins

Language: English

Pages: 376

ISBN: 0415960541

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Artistic representations of landscape are studied widely in areas ranging from art history to geography to sociology, yet there has been little consensus about how to understand the relationship between landscape and art. This book brings together more than fifty scholars from these multiple disciplines to establish new ways of thinking about landscape in art.

 

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“Social formation” is a Marxist formulation, discussed in detail early in the book and promoted as a conceptual escape from the tendency within Marxism to subordinate both material and imaginative cultural expressions to the imperatives of political economy, itself conceived largely in terms of production. Much of the historical discussion in the book turns upon a historiographic debate that was engaging the attention of British Marxist historians at the time it was written: the issue of a

took place just prior to his setting sail in 1839, and this convoluting or undoing of chronology and geography, of time and space, emblematizes the visual and spatial convolutions that constitute and drive Thoreau’s narrative in the chapter, one that begins with a fog-laden, pre-dawn river landscape and that spins out into a series of encounters with things seen. Rather than being continuous and progressive, as one might expect a travel narrative to be, Thoreau’s tale thus comprises a collection

then becomes: Is it possible to free the notion of landscape from being a representation for the subject? And within representation itself, things are not simple or monolithic. Landscape is a site in which representations contest: For whom is the representation presented? For the visitor from outside, or the person who works in the landscape? It’s also a power relation. The question then becomes: how to articulate power relations in representation? Does the traditional representation of

70. See for example www.burrenbeo.com; historical descriptions are available at www.clarelibrary.ie/eolas/coclare/places/the_burren/historical_descriptions.htm. The Burren caves are another element that is not susceptible to the usual aesthetic categories. We had originally planned a speleological tour of the “secret system of caves and conduits” that runs through the Burren. (Auden, “In Praise of Limestone,” in The Faber Book of Landscape Poetry, edited by Kenneth Baker [London: Faber & Faber,

suburban form, agricultural fields, transportation networks, patterns of development, dwellings, public parks and plazas, religious and ritual sites, the inscription of pilgrimage, trade networks, and the demarcation of the movement of people across the earth, and more. In short, I use “landscape” to mean places shaped and occupied by humans (some scholars refer to this as “cultural landscape studies”). This essay does not, therefore, engage in the debates that evolved during the seminar about

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