Producing Public Geographies: Creating a Field Guide to the American West
William Wyckoff, a leading historical geographer of the American West, will be at Harvard on April 3rd for an evening lecture (4-6pm) titled, “Producing Public Geographies: Creating a Field Guide to the American West,” and a special lunchtime discussion (12-1:15pm) of his recent book How to Read the American West: A Field Guide. The lunch meeting will be a discussion of Chapter 6 of that work, “Landscapes of Federal Largesse,” which explores how to see the federal presence that is imprinted on the western landscape from the Township-and-Range Survey System to some of America’s most iconic National Parks.*
This presentation explores the everyday landscapes of the contemporary American West and the crucial insights Wyckoff derived from applying the tools of a historical geographer to this immense region. It delves into how Wyckoff assembled his recent book on the western landscape that involved completing extensive field work across all of the American West, constructing an interpretive approach designed to reach a wide public readership, and harvesting a varied array of more than 400 images and 30 maps to make tangible and visible connections between the world of academic geography and the ordinary settings one might encounter in everyday western landscapes. After examining the process of putting the book together, he will share some general observations about the contemporary American West and how anyone can use the toolset of a historical geographer to better understand this diverse region.
Speaker Bio: A native of Southern California, Bill Wyckoff received his masters (1979) and doctoral (1982) degrees in geography from Syracuse University. Since 1986, he has taught Geography in the Department of Earth Sciences at Montana State University and has lived near Bozeman with his wife, Linda. For more than 25 years, Bill has studied the historical geography of the American West and the evolution of the region’s landscapes. He is the author of five scholarly books on the West and on the frontier, including his most re-cent volume titled How to Read the American West: A Field Guide, published by University of Washington Press in 2014. Earlier books include The Developer’s Frontier: The Making of the Western New York Landscape (Yale Press, 1988), The Mountainous West: Explorations in Historical Geography (with co-editor Lary Dilsaver, Nebraska Press, 1995), Creating Colorado: The Making of a Western American Landscape (Yale Press, 1999), and On the Road Again: Montana’s Changing Landscape (Washington Press, 2006). He also coauthors Diversity Amid Globalization: World Regions, Environment, Development, an award-winning world regional geography textbook published by Pearson.