Title"Maximum of wilderness"
NameEnright, Kelly (author), Fabian, Ann (chair), Clemens, Paul (internal member), Schrepfer, Susan (internal member), Lears, TJ Jackson (internal member), Rothfels, Nigel (outside member), Rutgers University, Graduate School - New Brunswick,
DescriptionMany scholars have argued that the idea of wilderness was a driving force in the formation of American identity. Environmental historians have outlined how the definition of “wilderness” has changed throughout the nation’s history, but few scholars have considered the role of non-American landscapes in shifting notions of “the wild.” As both “unspoiled” and “unconquerable,” tropical forests have long figured into the American imagination. “Maximum of Wilderness,” a phrase film-makers Martin and Osa Johnson use to describe Borneo’s Rain Forest, traces the representation of tropical landscapes (along with their animal and human inhabitants) seeking to understand their place in both the history of the idea of nature and the globalization of the environmental movement.
As a cultural construction, “the Jungle” is a dynamic mixture of myth and reality. At the beginning of the twentieth century, the Jungle was a popular theme in American culture; books and films such as Edgar Rice Burrough’s Tarzan (1914) and Merian C. Cooper’s King Kong (1933) created an image of adventure in tropical forests with mass appeal. While the popular image of the Jungle masked many of the real experiences in it, American naturalists sought to represent an “authentic” view of tropical nature in museums, zoological and botanical gardens, literature, and film. Through the lives and works of naturalists William Beebe, Martin and Osa Johnson, David Fairchild, and Richard Evans Schultes my work examines the relationship between popular and scientific representations of tropical nature—and the resonance of these images. My central concern is how and why this imagery shifts at mid-century from the Jungle as a place that endangered human lives to the Rain Forest, a place itself endangered. Still present in the American imagination, both images speak to the central place of tropical forests within constructions of adventure and wilderness, as well as to the American role in, and responsibility for, these landscapes.
NoteIncludes bibliographical references (p. 251-260)
Noteby Kelly Enright
CollectionGraduate School - New Brunswick Electronic Theses and Dissertations
Organization NameRutgers, The State University of New Jersey
RightsThe author owns the copyright to this work