The Geographical Imagination in America, 1880-1950 / Edition 2

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"What is the history of geography in this country? How have Americans been taught to see the world around them? Susan Schulten addresses these questions by examining how ideas and images shaped popular understandings of world geography from the 1880s to the 1950s, a critical period in history that saw the United States evolve from a relatively isolationist nation to an international, economic superpower. Schulten examines four enduring institutions of learning that produced some of the most influential sources of geographic knowledge in modern history: maps and atlases, the National Geographic Society, the American university, and public schools."--BOOK JACKET.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
University of Denver historian Schulten offers a well-documented account of how politics, history and culture influenced the study and presentation of geography from 1880, when maps first became widely available, to 1950, the beginning of the Cold War. She focuses on four distinct presences within America's geographical community: university geographers, primary and secondary school geographers, the National Geographic and its editors, and commercial producers of maps and atlases. More academician than storyteller, Schulten writes unadorned prose; this style is effective, however, as she argues her major theme, that geography over this period directly reflected political and cultural ideology. Schulten's chronicle of the rise of the National Geographic under visionary editor Gilbert Grosvenor is insightful, especially when discussing the paradox created by Grosvenor's editorial policy of presenting readers "pleasant information," designed to provide "mental relaxation without emotional stimulus." This policy led the magazine to depict favorably what it designated as the "progressive" changes in Italy and Germany in the 1930s. Equally interesting is the discussion of the power of maps, "the silent arbiter(s) of power." Specifically, her analysis of the symbolic message embedded in the Mercator projection, that flat world map familiar to schoolchildren past and present picturing the United States safely centered between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, far from the mysterious East and troubling West, brings new perspective to the latent political statements maps make by their design. Another strength of this book is the richness of the historical and political record Schulten utilizes to explicate her major themes. Theory is wisely balanced by a hodgepodge of odd and interesting facts about maps, politics and American cultural trends. (Apr.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
The thesis of this work, as stated in its excellent introduction, is to weave together commercially produced maps, the work of the National Geographic Society, and academic and K-12 geography in an attempt to figure out how each has informed the U.S. public's idea of the world. Schulten (history, Univ. of Denver) discusses the place of geography in education as well as in popular culture and politics during the last two decades of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century and looks at how cartography turned from an elite craft into a mass-market production. Her focus on historical perspective rather than cartography means that occasionally her statements don't concur with a map librarian's view (e.g., her comment that most maps are found in atlases is incorrect unless she means that this is where most general users see maps). Recommended for public and academic libraries. Mary L. Larsgaard, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780226740553
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publication date: 3/1/2001
  • Series: Phoenix Fiction Ser.
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 330
  • Sales rank: 1,379,123
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Susan Schulten is an assistant professor of history at the University of Denver.

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
1 Introduction 1
Pt. 1 Making Geography Modern 15
2 Maps for the Masses, 1880-1900 17
3 Science, Culture, and Expansionism in the Making of the National Geographic, 1888-1900 45
4 Creating the Science of Geography, 1880-1919 69
5 School Geography, the "Mother of All Sciences," 1880-1914 92
Pt. 2 Geography for the American Century 119
6 School Geography in the Age of Internationalism, 1914-1950 121
7 Negotiating Success at the National Geographic, 1900-1929 148
8 The Map and the Territory, 1900-1939 176
9 War and the Re-creation of the World, 1939-1950 204
Epilogue 239
Notes 243
Bibliography 281
Index 309
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