Week 5. Economic geography

Rethinking the Introductory Art History Survey: A Practical, Somewhat Theoretical, and Inspirational Guide

Monday. February 13 Go to Wilmington – continue research

Thursday. February 16. Economic geography– Jim Tober

Notes from Jim Tober in preparation for his class:

Notes and Reader’s Guide for February 16

 I have attached three readings that will give us some common ground for Thursday’s discussion.

 The broad organizing question is how are human activities arrayed on the physical landscape, and how do patterns of use condition future uses?  Of course, there are many places to start: with physical geography (where are the rivers, the deep soils, etc.); with historic patterns of use that generate infrastructure and transformations of the physical landscape itself; with notions of property rights and partitioning of the landscape into parcels subject to control by various political jurisdictions; with the spatial relationships among human communities of various sizes and scales (e.g. general practitioner in small town, surgeon in small city, neurosurgeon in big city, and pediatric neurosurgeon in major medical center.)

 Platt’s chapter gives something of an overview of all of this, though his focus is on the intersection between geography and law. I think the whole chapter is worth your time in general, but in the interest of getting to the other readings, you might need to read selectively here.

 “An Ecological Planning Study for Wilmington and Dover, Vermont,” published in 1972, offers a fascinating look at the way that some people were thinking about the region you are studying now.  It also illustrates the then-new approach to planning developed and popularized by Ian McHarg at the University of Pennsylvania’s school of landscape architecture and regional planning.  His book, Design with Nature, (1968) summarizes the approach, generally known as physiographic, or ecological,  planning.  It is worth noting that regional planning, as now practiced generally and including by the Windham Regional Planning Commission, derives substantially from this approach (though hand-colored acetate overlays have been replaced by computerized GIS mapping.)

 The excerpt from Design with Nature gives you an introduction to this approach.  Some of this is covered as well in the narrative accompanying the Wilmington/Dover study.  As for the study itself, I recommend that you page through the whole document to get a sense of the project and its methods.  Then, focus on some sections of special interest to you and be prepared to present them to the group.

 See you Thursday.  Meanwhile, let me know if you have questions.





“An Ecological and Planning Study for Wilmington and Dover, VT,” 1972

McHarg, Design with Nature

Platt, Chapter 2


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