By Elyse Turr
San Francisco, here we come.
Oxford is excited for the upcoming annual conference of the American Society for Environmental History in San Francisco this week: 12-16 March 2014. The theme of the conference is “Crossing Divides,” reflecting the mixed history of the discipline and California itself.
We’ll be at the Opening Reception, co-sponsored by Oxford University Press, MIT, University of Delaware, and the Winslow Foundation on Wednesday, 12 March 2014 from 6:00-8:00 p.m. in the Cyril Magnin Ballroom.
Stop by Oxford’s display in the Exhibit hall. We’ll have hundreds of books on display, including several hot off the presses like Jared Orsi’s Citizen Explorer: The Life of Zebulon Pike, Cecilia M. Tsu’s Garden of the World: Asian Immigrants and the Making of Agriculture in California’s Santa Clara Valley, and Kendra Smith-Howard’s Pure and Modern Milk: An Environmental History since 1900.
Pick up a complimentary copy of Environmental History and other key Oxford journals at the booth. The most current issue features new articles on the environmental history of work, environmental politics and corporate real estate development, the shift to steam power in water reservoirs, and how skiing transformed the Alps. The editors have also compiled a special conference-companion virtual issue that draws on the theme of “Crossing Divides.” And for your teaching and research needs we’re offering free trials of Oxford’s online resources. Check out census data going back to 1790 with Social Explorer or assign sections, chapters, or full texts of books with Oxford Scholarship Online. Pick up a free trial access card at the booth.
ASEH 2014 is offering a number of field trips, but the one we’re fired up about is a field trip to Muir Woods on Friday, 14 March 2014. In 2008 Oxford was proud to publish Donald Worster’s biography of John Muir, A Passion for Nature: The Life of John Muir. Worster discusses Muir’s appreciation for and belief in the power of the forest in this passage:
“Nature, particularly its forests, offered an ideal of harmony to a nation torn apart by conflict between capital and labor, country and city, imperialists and anti-imperialists. That harmony was first and foremost one of beauty; nothing in nature was ugly or discordant, a lesson that could be learned by hiking a trail into the Sierra or standing at the rail of a steamer along the Alaskan coast. The challenge was how to help American society achieve that same degree of moral and aesthetic unity.
“Violent confrontation was not the way to achieve ecological harmony, a beautiful landscape, or a decent civilization. One must start by resolving to conserve the natural world for the sake of human beings and other forms of life. Conservation offered both an economic and aesthetic program of social reform—learning to use natural resources more carefully, for long-term renewability, and learning to preserve wild places where humans could go to learn about how nature constructs harmony. Muir tried, as other green men did, to push conservation in both directions. Achieve these reforms, he believed, and a truer, better democracy would evolve in which people of diverse origins, abilities, and needs would live in greater peace and mutuality, just as all the elements of nature did. If a forest could thrill the sense and still the troubled heart with its harmonies, then society could become like that forest. Such was the hope of the green men.”
—Donald Worster, A Passion for Nature: The Life of John Muir
My own first experience in Muir Woods:
I grew up in the Northeast –I’ve tapped maples looking for sap, hiked portions of the Appalachian Trail and spent enormous chunks of my childhood climbing the pine tree in our front yard–I thought I knew trees. Last Spring, while visiting friends in San Francisco, we toured Muir woods and I very quickly realized that any of the previous trees I knew were mere twigs by comparison to the majestic redwoods. It was both powerful and humbling to be among these giants, feeling dizzy trying to find their tops and small trying to wrap my arms around one and not even getting half-way. Never before had I been able to step inside a fire-charred redwood or run my hands across the hundreds of rings in a fallen tree. Muir Woods is a beautiful, peaceful place and I am very glad I was able to experience it; it was an experience I will always remember.
—Elyse Turr, History Marketing
See you in San Francisco!
Elyse Turr is an Assistant Marketing Manager for history titles for Oxford University Press.