The Mountain West: Interpreting the Folk Landscape (Creating the North American Landscape)

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9780801854316: The Mountain West: Interpreting the Folk Landscape (Creating the North American Landscape)
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Why is the West--both in the United States and Canada--not like the East? Traditionally, two answers have been given to the question: Either the West is a pioneer culture--the old frontier moved westward from what we now call the East--or the West is a unique subculture originating in a human response to the demands of a dry, rugged physical environment.

In this groundbreaking volume, Terry Jordan and his co-authors look to the log folk buildings of the Mountain West, from New Mexico to Alaska, to explain why the West is "the West." Arguing that artifacts such as dwellings, barns, and fences can, if correctly interpreted, reveal much about the origins and character of the regional culture, they set forth not only the first comprehensive description and analysis of Western folk architecture but also a systematic explanation of the culture of the West.

"The West," the authors conclude, "is at once indigenous and imported, innovative and ultraconservative, Anglo-American and ethnic, unitary and plural." Westerners tinkered, invented, modified, and diversified. No single adaptive strategy brought to the West worked flawlessly in the new habitat. By extensive field investigation of still-extant folk houses, fences, barns, hay derricks, and cabins--all elements of material culture--they explain what the land tells us about the West.

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"Myth, image, and fantasy find their basis in a reality: the West is not like the East in a variety of measurable ways, in climate, terrain, religion, politics, and the propensity to purchase Elvis Presley memorabilia," write the authors in this innovative study of the West's "folk landscape," settled places made and remade by generations of inhabitants. Looking at artifacts like wooden fences, log houses, hay derricks, and other architectural elements that owe much to the indigenous peoples of the West, they propose ways in which the landscape can be read as if it were a book to reveal the hidden history of place.

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By extensive field investigation of still-extant folk houses, fences, barns, hay derricks, and cabins--all elements of material culture--the authors explain what the land tells us about the West.

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Professor Terry G. Jordan, Professor Jon T. Kilpinen, Professor Charles F. Gritzner
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