What will the schedule and workload be like?
On Sunday evening, you will gather for dinner and an opening reception at SUNY Cortland’s Alumni House, and meet history professors, Kevin Sheets and Randi Storch from SUNY Cortland’s history department, who will facilitate the week’s program and events, and Kerri Freese, Forever Wild’s project assistant. At this opening event, you will be briefed on the week’s activities and logistics.
On Monday morning, you will engage with historical sources at both the 1890 House and at SUNY Cortland’s Alumni House. We will expect that you have completed readings posted on our blackboard site and are prepared to think about what it was like to live in a Gilded Age industrial city.
After morning sessions that probe primary sources to explore themes of urbanization and industrialization, we will board a chartered bus and make our way to Camp Huntington. While bussing, we will watch the 1951 Paramount film A Place in the Sun and discuss the way that Hollywood portrayed the famous Gilette murder.
Once we are all transported across Raquette Lake and settled at camp, we will meet Rob Rubendall, SUNY Cortland’s Director for Environmental and Outdoor Education, who lives at the Camp, and receive an orientation that will explain camp protocols and traditions and have a formal tour of Camp Huntington’s buildings and grounds. The tour and discussion will focus on the history of the Great Camps and guide you as you read the cultural geography of the space.
This first full day at the camp emphasizes the cultural and artistic forces that shaped the 19th and early 20thcentury wilderness ideal. Through our activities and discussions, we will focus on the question of how 19th century Americans defined “wilderness” and “nature” and how these concepts contrasted with the urban experience. Philip Terrie’s Forever Wild and primary sources will serve as the central readings to ground our discussion. An early morning hike guided by Rob Rubendall and an afternoon seaplane ride, which provides an aerial perspective of the Adirondack’s geography, will help you appreciate the awe-inspired imagination of artists and intellectuals who looked - and continue to look - to the wilderness for aesthetic cues.
Today our focus will turn to efforts by 19th century Americans to domesticate nature by building “civilized” retreats for their leisure pursuits. The Great Camps point to key themes of the era: consumerism, leisure, class, gender (including 19th century conceptions of manhood), and modernity. After breakfast, you will travel to Camp Uncas, built by William Durant in 1890-92 and bought by JP Morgan in 1896. Then you will travel to Camp Sagamore, built by Durant from 1895-97 and sold to Alfred Vanderbilt in 1901. In each camp, the group will consider the spaces as an extension of these industrialists’ public personas. How did they use the space? How was space specialized? How were class relations experienced at the camps? In reading these various sites, we will compare and contrast the industrialists’ use of the wilderness as a retreat, understand the architectural history of the spaces, and learn about the relationship between industrial development in the region and the growth of the Great Camp movement. The architecture of the Great Camps and influences shaping their distinctive architecture will be an important component of the discussion.
Today we will use excerpts from William Cronin’s Nature’s Metropolis and his ideas about the commoditization of nature to frame our thinking as we spend the day at the Adirondack Museum asking ourselves the following question: How did natural resources provide the bases of 19th century capitalism and how did industrialists turn minerals and trees into traded commodities?
The museum documents the history of the region through historic structures relocated to the grounds, art and photography, and artifacts relating to daily life, work and industry. Curator led-tours of exhibits will showcase the history of the region’s several industries, as participants make connections between the wilderness environment and an urban economy. You will tour a 19th century blacksmith shop, a one-room log cabin hunting retreat, a 19th century watercraft and a luxurious early 20th century Pullman railcar to understand the transformation in the use of the land and its resources over time. You will also have the unique opportunity to handle materials from the Museum’s collection storage facility and engage in hands-on artifact analysis and interpretation to facilitate understanding of the process by which raw materials (in the form of trees, minerals, and water power) were transformed into market commodities. You will also learn about the technology (and on-the-ground inventiveness) that made this transformation possible. The focus here is to help you understand the industrial and economic character of the wilderness as experienced by local inhabitants who resisted encroachments on their unspoiled landscape by industrialists who built rail lines and factories to reap economic advantage from the region’s timber and mineral stores, and by progressive-era reformers who applied science to the conservation and management of its natural resources.
Today you will explore ways that “wilderness” became a central focus of progressive era debates. Threads of the week’s activities (from cultural, economic, industrial and social history) reveal what was at stake in the conflict over the future of the industrial economy. The 1894 “forever wild” debate showcases in microcosm tensions pitting industrialists, progressives, and naturalists against one another as they used the political system to secure advantages. Historian Rebecca Edwards will lead a morning lecture and workshop using primary source materials to help participants understand the broader context of progressive-era politics into which this discussion of wilderness fits. Edwards will develop a framework to understand the dynamism of progressive-era politics. You will take home a collection of primary source materials, references to the scholarly literature, and instructional resources to help your students appreciate the role early 20th century politics played in adjudicating competing interests.
In the afternoon, you and your group will engage in your final “teaching projects workshop,” facilitated by project historians. After dinner, group digital stories will be shared in a culminating experience.
Saturday morning departure follows breakfast, with stops at the Syracuse Airport and Cortland. Those flying out of Syracuse, should take into account the time it will take us to get there from camp. The earliest we can arrive to the will be 12:00 P.M. so no flight should be booked before 2:30 P.M.
Skills developed and practiced during the weeklong workshop, will be incorporated into culminating group projects. These projects will take the form of a short digital documentary to be completed during the week and showcased Friday evening. For these group projects, small groups will work collaboratively through the week to produce ten-minute documentaries on one of the following themes connected to the workshop’s late 19th century content focus: the cultural meaning of wilderness; wilderness and the industrial economy; wilderness and leisure; or the politics of wilderness. Group participants are responsible for interpreting the theme, collecting primary and secondary source materials during the week (including audio and video clips of workshop leaders, photographs of artifacts and sites, scans of documents, etc.), organizing materials into a coherent and logical sequence and, using Apple’s iMovie app for the iPad, creating a digital story to share with colleagues and ultimately students. Materials collected during the week by each group will be uploaded to the workshop’s Blackboard site to be permanently available to participants and their students as they develop future instructional activities. The group project is a particularly critical component of the Forever Wild design: it encourages collaborative learning, builds community, and, importantly, helps participants to process and understand the material they encounter during the week. The project also develops instructional technology skills participants can model for students, especially as this technology has low barriers to access in terms of prior skill level.
Each evening you will have an opportunity to work with your group members on developing your group projects.