The Mountain West: Interpreting the Folk Landscape

Overview

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 ...

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Overview

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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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
Scholars Jordan, Kilpinen, and Gritzner set out to explain "what makes the West the West" by archaeologically describing its folk architecture<-->primarily log cabins. The volume is a wonderful uncovering of diversity and adaptation as Eastern innovations were tailored to a more rugged environment and took on the new characteristics that have come to define the plural reality of Westerners from New Mexico to Alaska. Includes numerous photographs of houses, fences, barns, hay derricks, and cabins. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801854316
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
  • Publication date: 11/4/1996
  • Series: Creating the North American Landscape Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 192
  • Product dimensions: 7.30 (w) x 10.30 (h) x 0.75 (d)

Meet the Author

Terry G. Jordan is Walter Prescott Webb Professor of History and Ideas at the University of Texas, Austin. Jon T. Kilpinen is associate professor of geography at Valparaiso University. Charles F. Gritzner is Distinguished Professor of Geography at South Dakota State University.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Ch. 1 The North American West: Continuity or Innovation? 3
Ch. 2 Log Dwellings 11
Ch. 3 Log Outbuildings 33
Ch. 4 Log Carpentry Traditions 59
Ch. 5 Wooden Fences 87
Ch. 6 Material Culture of Haymaking 105
Ch. 7 The West Revealed 123
Appendix: Museums and Archives 133
Notes 137
References 145
Index 157
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