In this lesson, we discussed at length (and with admittedly ridiculous numbers of images) what cultural landscapes are, what they can tell us, what it means to read them, and some limitations inherent in reading them. Given the length of this lesson, we will briefly recap some major points here.
Actively reading cultural landscapes involves paying attention to things like signage, street names, street plans, infrastructure, monuments, architecture, and the placement of symbolic elements. Successful readings of a given landscape will consider these elements with respect to one another, and will consider the landscape within its broader historical, cultural, social, economic, and political contexts.
Cultural landscapes (or built environments) reflect the local culture, and give us clues as to how they are intended to be used, as well as who is expected to use them. Some features, such as slide or grind marks on rails or benches, or spikes on window ledges, suggest both uses of the space that resist or differ from the official expectations, as well as potential marginalization of certain populations (e.g., homeless people). Landscapes reveal the (historical) values of a given community, though those values may be a better reflection of those embraced by the state or municipal government than by the community itself.
When we read landscapes, it is imperative to remember that all readings are subjective: they reflect our own attunements relative to our individual experiences as well as our memberships within different textual communities. Finally, while cultural landscapes can reveal a great deal about a place, they are sometimes constructed to conceal aspects of the place.
Bearing in mind these caveats, reading the landscape can be productive and informative.
Please return to the Lesson 6 module in Canvas where you will find the Lesson 6 Discussion Forum which contains the discussion prompt and specific instructions for the assignment.
Please check the Canvas Syllabus or Calendar for specific time frames and due dates.
Complete all of the Lesson 6 tasks
You have reached the end of Lesson 6! Double-check the to-do list on the Lesson 6 Checklist page to make sure you have completed all of the activities listed there before you begin Lesson 7.
If you have any questions now or at any point during this week, please feel free to post them to the GEOG 571 - General Discussion Forum. (That forum can be accessed at any time in Canvas by opening the Lesson 0: Welcome to GEOG 571 module in Canvas.)