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Cultural and Social Landscapes:

Authorship Through Experience

 

Forming a historical connection. May people continue to feel connected to Mount Holyoke and its long history, even years after they live on, or visit the campus. Mount Holyoke’s high regard for tradition - both formal and informal- strengthen these strong personal ties with the campus. Enforcing these ties are interaction and experience with the landscape.The memory of experiences leads to a feeling of ownership over some aspect of the landscape – each student remembers her own Mount Holyoke a little differently. Placing importance on the continuation of tradition also fosters appreciation for memory, and history. In this regard, all those who take part in any sort of tradition, or interact with the landscape develop a sense of authorship over the landscape.

Authorship and Ownership.The idea of authorship in landscape can be looked at in many different ways. The idea of authors in landscape has been explored, but has previously focused on those who create or build landscapes.(2). While building a physical landscape is one way to become a landscape author, one must consider an alternative landscape: the one that exists in the “mind’s eye”(3) – one’s own interpretation and experience of that landscape. Landscape makes impressions on each of us, and the ritual of tradition allow us to make impressions as well as expressions on the landscape. Sites where Mount Holyoke’s traditions are celebrated are especially memorable, because the tradition creates memories that are based around that particular site.

Memory and Tradition. When one thinks of Founders Day, one will remember Mary Lyon’s grave, decked in fall foliage and early morning sunshine. When one thinks of May Day celebrations and May Queens, she remembers watching Lower Lake sparkle in the light of the setting sun, while feeling green grass between her toes.(4). Similarly, sites that have been lost will be immortalized by memories, and by traditions held around them.

Experience. The most vivid of memories come from experiences. One is more likely to remember Upper Lake if she took canoeing, or zoology. In our memories, we exist as we were, and landscapes exist as they once were. This again leads back to the idea of authorship, and the importance of remembering these specific places.

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This page was created by Alexandra Toomey '08 in History 283, Spring Semester 2006 - aetoomey@mtholyoke.edu