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Title:Measured shadows of Thomas Jefferson: A transit from amateur landscape gardening to professional landscape architecture
Author(s):King, Michael Alexander
Director of Research:Hays, David L.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Hays, David L.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Rhee, Pollyanna; Foote, Stephanie; Greenhill, Jennifer
Department / Program:Landscape Architecture
Discipline:Landscape Architecture
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Thomas Jefferson
landscape architecture
regional planning
campus planning
natural resource planning
Abstract:This dissertation considers Thomas Jefferson’s accomplishments and importance in an overlooked and misunderstood field—landscape gardening and its successor profession, landscape architecture. Jefferson’s design work and his writing and philosophy provide a foundation not only for what would become the United States, but also for what would become the profession of landscape architecture. Said differently, Jefferson is a “founding father” of the United States as well as the profession of landscape architecture in the United States, predating the efforts of such canonical figures as Andrew Jackson Downing, Frederick Law Olmsted, and Calvert Vaux by fifty years. Landscape architecture and the United States share a material and symbolic foundation in Jefferson, whose philosophy promoted a sense of eternal nascence from the ground up, emphasizing freedom from the manacles of the past while recognizing the inescapable necessity of the material land underlying all things. Because of his deplorable entanglement with the original sin of slavery and the foundational sin of settler colonialism, Jefferson haunts the disciplinary imagination of landscape architecture in the United States, yet his epistolary philosophy, which revolved around the idea that the “earth belongs in usufruct to the living,” might offer a residue of possibility. This principle not only anticipated Ralph Waldo Emerson’s foundational question “where do we find ourselves?” but also served as an ideological foundation for both the profession of landscape architecture and the United States: though we are not fated to history, we remain tethered to the land.
Issue Date:2021-01-06
Rights Information:Copyright 2020 Michael Alexander King All rights reserved.
Date Available in IDEALS:2021-09-17
Date Deposited:2021-05

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