McMINNVILLE ? William Cronon, a professor of history, geography and environmental studies and one of the country?s most distinguished historians, will present this year?s Jonas A. "Steine" Jonasson Endowed Lecture at Linfield College.
Cronon, whose research seeks to understand the history of human interactions with the natural world, will speak on "The Portage: How to Read a Landscape" Tuesday, Feb. 7, at 7:30 p.m. in Melrose Auditorium. The lecture is free and open to the public.
Cronon is the Frederick Jackson Turner and Vilas Research Professor of History, Geography and Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. His work focuses on how we depend on ecosystems to sustain our material lives, how we modify the landscapes in which we live and work and how our ideas of nature shape our relationships with the world. His first book, "Changes in the Land: Indians, Colonists and the Ecology of New England," was a study of how the New England landscape changed as control of the region shifted from Indians to European colonists.
In 1991 he wrote "Nature?s Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West," which examines Chicago?s relationship to its rural hinterland during the second half of the 19th century. The book was awarded numerous prizes and was one of three nominees for the Pulitzer Prize in History. In 1992 he co-edited "Under an Open Sky: Rethinking America?s Western Past," a collection of essays on the prospects of western and frontier history in American historiography. He also edited "Uncommon Ground: Rethinking the Human Place in Nature," a collection of essays examining the implication of different cultural ideas of nature for modern environmental problems.
Cronon is currently working on a history of Portage, Wis., from the end of the last Ice Age down to the present. It will explore how people?s sense of place is shaped by the stories they tell about their homes,
their lives and the landscapes they inhabit. He is also completing "Saving Nature in Time: The Past and the Future of Environmentalism" on the evolving relationship between environmental history and environmentalism and what the two might learn from each other.
Prior to joining the faculty at Wisconsin, Cronon taught for more than a decade at Yale University. He has a B.A. from Wisconsin, an M.A., a M.Phil. and a Ph.D. from Yale and a D.Phil from Oxford University. He has been a Rhodes Scholar, Guggenheim Fellow and MacArthur Fellow and has won prizes for his teaching at both Yale and Wisconsin. In 1999, he was elected a member of the American Philosophical Society.
The Jonas A. "Steine" Jonasson Endowed Lectureship at Linfield honors Jonasson, professor emeritus of history, who was associated with Linfield for more than 60 years before his death in 1997. The endowment is used to bring in distinguished scholars and speakers in the area of history. Jonasson held the unofficial title of Linfield historian and wrote "Bricks Without Straw," a history of the college. For more information, call 503-883-2660.