In a world that is increasingly reliant on science, technology, and virtual relationships, our reciprocal and intimate connection to place has often been overlooked. This concern is now at the forefront of debate among environmental planners and designers, who are asking: What is distinctive and memorable about a certain place? Who lives there - or once did? What are the impacts of metropolitan growth, sprawl, and the loss of family farms? In "Literature of Place", Melanie Simo looks beyond crowded malls and boarded-up storefronts on Main Street to our collective memory, finding answers to these questions in stories, novels, memoirs, poetry, essays, diaries, travel writing, and nature writing that range in origin from New England and the Southern Highlands to Hawaii and in subject from little gardens to lost or reinhabited places in cities, mill towns, deserts, and woodlands.
In her consideration of selected American works from 1890 to 1970 - years that mark the closing of the Western frontier and later openings in space exploration, environmental protection, genetic engineering, and cyberspace - Simo uncovers a literature of place and the often-surprising relationship of place to our daily lives. While the exploration of outer space and cyberspace may now seem limitless, some planners and designers are rediscovering ways of building from an earlier time and reconsidering the importance of place. In "Literature of Place" Simo furthers this movement by retrieving some common threads of attachment to place in works by John Steinbeck, Willa Cather, Henry James, Robert Frost, Wallace Stegner, Henry Beston, Rachel Carson, Loren Eiseley, Wendell Berry, J B Jason, Jane Jacobs, and others. By reconsidering works by such diverse and often surprisingly unknown writers, Simo seeks to broaden our understanding of place and stimulate the imagination of those who are creating and preserving memorable places in our time.
A companion volume to "Forest and Garden: Traces of Wilderness in a Modernizing Land, 1897-1949" (Virginia 2003), "Literature of Place" will appeal to urban designers, architects, landscape architects, environmental planners, literary and social historians, and all who are concerned about the fate of places in an increasingly "small" and remotely controlled world.