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The Geopoetics of Modernism$
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Rebecca Walsh

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780813060514

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813060514.001.0001

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Academic and Popular Geography

Academic and Popular Geography

Global Connections, Environmentalist Style

(p.21) 1 Academic and Popular Geography
The Geopoetics of Modernism

Rebecca Walsh

University Press of Florida

This chapter charts the shift from the cosmological geography of mid- to late nineteenth century geographers Alexander von Humboldt and Mary Somerville to the rise of environmental determinism in the early decades of the twentieth century in the work of Friedrich Ratzel, Halford Mackinder, Isaiah Bowman, and, most notably, Ellen Churchill Semple. First, it argues for the enduring transatlantic influence of Humboldt and Somerville that stressed global, harmonic oneness, unlike American Studies’ scholarly focus on home-grown, American forms of nineteenth-century academic and popular geography. It locates similar global sensibilities in cosmological geography and in the work of Semple, who actively worked against the disciplinary boundaries separating geography from history and literature and advocated an early version of “the spatial turn” with environmental determinist principles as its centerpiece. The last portion of the chapter traces National Geographic Magazine’s translation of these ideas into an adaptable aesthetic for a wider public that included many modernist writers.

Keywords:   Cosmology, Environmental determinism, James Oppenheim, Alexander von Humboldt, Mary Somerville, Ellen Churchill Semple, National Geographic Magazine, Countries of the World, Harriet Chalmers Adams, Frederick Simpich, William Joseph Showalter

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