Jasper National Park is an international travel destination, world heritage site, and icon of Canadian identity. Although national parks occupy a prominent place in the Canadian imagination, we are only beginning to understand how their visual imagery has shaped and continues to inform our perception of the natural world, ecological issues, and ourselves.
In Manufacturing National Park Nature, J. Keri Cronin draws on postcards, illustrated brochures, tourist snapshots, and other forms of visual culture to show how popular forms of picturing nature can have ecological implications that extend far beyond the frame of the image. Adopting an ecocritical approach to visual culture, Cronin focusses on four themes – wilderness, recreation, wildlife, and fake nature – to trace how park and government officials, railway companies, journalists, and environmentalists package Jasper as a series of breathtaking vistas where adorable-looking animals live. In the process, they sever the scenes from their larger contexts and mask the real threats to the park’s ecosystems.
In telling the story of how various groups and the tourism industry have used photographic representations of national parks to shape our ideas about nature, this book sets the stage for a re-examination of protection policies and acknowledgment of environmental damage in national parks.
This book will be of interest to scholars and students in the fields of environmental studies, Canadian studies, art history, and visual culture.
This book is specifically about Jasper National Park, yet its theoretical discussions, analyses, and conclusions can be applied broadly to visual representations in any managed, ‘wild’ area...this text is a valuable contribution to the growing field of visual-culture-based ecological criticism.
The book is brief, and lavishly illustrated…it makes a real contribution to the literature by analyzing the cultural and physical impacts of tourism in an iconic environment…the author has deftly woven together a convoluted web of images and ideologies, uniquely focused on one location. This work will appeal to readers interested in parks, tourism and leisure, in cultural concepts of landscape, and in the management of wilderness areas… while it engages deeply with theoretical issues, Manufacturing National Park Nature is highly comprehensible, and appropriate for any intelligent, interested reader.
Manufacturing National Park Nature is highly recommended to scholars and students of environmental studies and history, recreation and tourism, as well as those of media and marketing. It is an accessible way of challenging taken-for-granted conceptions of both wilderness landscapes and photography.
Manufacturing National Park Nature joins a growing literature on the visual culture of the environment and, unlike most other works in the field, does so through a specific focus on one place. This approach allows Cronin to consider both environmental perceptions and material changes over the past century in Jasper. Her focus on tourist imagery – including postcards, brochures, newspapers, magazines, and advertisements – is original, as she uses sources often ignored by art historians, environmental historians, ecocritics, and other scholars.
This revealing and richly illustrated study lays bare the gap between what is pictured and what is concealed in tourist images of the park and offers an intriguing commentary on the ways in which visual depictions have shaped both ‘imaginative’ and ‘actual’ landscapes in this region. Working the fertile borderland between cultural production and environmental values, it reveals how government agencies, tourism operators, environmental activists, and tourists themselves have drawn from and given substance to the idea that National Parks encompass pristine Nature.
Foreword: “that fatal breath of ‘improvement’” / Graeme Wynn
1 Grounding National Park Nature
2 “Jasper Wonderful by Nature”: The Wilderness Industry of Jasper National Park
3 An Invitation to Leisure: Picturing Canada’s Wilderness Playground
4 “The Bears Are Plentiful and Frequently Good Camera Subjects”: Photographing Wildlife in Jasper National Park
5 Fake Nature
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