Date of Submission

Spring 2012

Academic Program

Environmental and Urban Studies

Project Advisor 1

Noah Chasin

Abstract/Artist's Statement

This project investigates two structures by which New Englanders have historically ordered their landscape, with particular attention to processes of dwelling, settlement, and tradition-making. New England has a layered history containing the narratives of a colonial, revolutionary, politicized, and ecological space, as well as the narrative of one of the cultural hearths of America. This six-state area[1] contains diverse landscapes and a patchwork of cultures, and this project explores some types of homogeneity that unites these cities, rural areas, and in-between places into a recognizable whole. I explore the two sides of New England: first, a physical place denoted by certain images, and also a conceptual space of idealized history and imaginary micro-geographies. This paper draws attention to the utility of the region as a geographical unit that is an intermediary between comprehensive national narratives and localized community-based storytelling.

The second half of the project is focused on two built spaces that reappear throughout New England and are essential to this region’s contemporary and historicized image. This arrangement of landscape iconography is (1) the town green or common, and (2) the stone wall. The stone wall is explored as vestige of the complex agricultural transition, primarily between the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, which highlighted the household sphere as a catalyst for landscape transition. The town common’s narrative follows the stone wall’s development chronologically with a discussion of the produced image of the small town, focusing on the common beautification movements of the 19thcentury and accompanying representations. Fitted together, this spatial duet analyzes some of the most substantial narratives of this region’s history and present state, including settlement patterns, early American civic society, economic transitions and agricultural decline, suburbanization, nostalgic landscapes, and historic preservation. Furthermore, these two spaces are at once complimentary and conflicting, as they represent two opposing sides of the New England character: fierce individuals and collectivism. The epilogue projects a future for New England’s symbolic landscape.

[1] Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut

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