The Culture of Nature

The Culture of Nature

North American Landscape from Disney to Exxon Valdez

Second edition

By Alexander Wilson


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Since it was first published in 1991, few books have come close to capturing the depth and breadth of Alexander Wilson’s innovative ecocultural compendium The Culture of Nature. His work was one of the first of its kind to investigate the ideology of the environment, to critique the future according to Disney, and illustrate that the ways we think, teach, talk about, and construct the natural world are as important a terrain as the land itself. Extensively illustrated and meticulously researched, this edition is exquisitely revised and reissued for the Anthropocene.


This is a beautiful book about ugliness, which takes the innumerable facts of the degradation of nature as so many multiple starting points for the history of the production of modern space. Wilson ranges across cognate yet extraordinarily varied topics such as nature films, theme parks, tourism, world’s fairs, shopping malls, and strip-mining and nuclear plants, not merely to trace their histories but also to map out their ideologies–for it is myth and ideology that ultimately legitimize and promote the violence done to the land. It is a remarkable performance, of the greatest theoretical as well as practical-political interest.

– Fredric Jameson

This is more than an imaginative and richly detailed history of the ways North Americans construct, and are constructed by, nature. The impetus of this book is political. As such it proposes a course of action as well as reasons for anger and alarm. The Culture of Nature is intricate webs of information precisely spun, impossible to shrug off.

– Adele Freedman


Foreword by Greg Garrard
1. The View from the Road: Recreation and Tourism
2. Nature Education and Promotion
3. Nature at Home: A Social Ecology of Postwar Landscape Design
4. Looking at the Non-Human: Nature Movies and TV
5. City and Country
6. Technological Utopias: World’s Fairs and Theme Parks
7. From Reserve to Microenvironment: Nature Parks and Zoos
8. On The Frontiers of Capital: Nuclear Plants and Other Environmental Architectures
Notes on Sources
Picture Credits