Theory and Synthetic Overviews
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Cronon, William, “Kennecott Journey: The Paths Out of Town,” in Cronon et al., eds., Under an Open Sky: Rethinking America’s Western Past (New York: W. W. Norton, 1991), 28-51.
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Soper, Kate, What Is Nature?: Culture, Politics and the Non-Human (Oxford: Blackwell, 1995).
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Worster, Donald, The Wealth of Nature: Environmental History and the Ecological Imagination (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993).
Classics and Precursors
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Gates, Paul Wallace, History of (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1968).
Hoskins, W. G., The Making of the English Landscape (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1955).
Jackson, John Brinckerhoff, Landscapes: Selected Writings of J. B. Jackson,
Leopold, Aldo, A Sand (New York: Oxford University Press, 1949).
Malin, James, History and Ecology, ed. Robert P. Swierenga (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1984).
Marsh, George Perkins, Man and Nature (1864; reprinted, ed. David Lowenthal,
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Environmental History of Material Life
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Cronon, William, Nature’s Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West (New York: W. W. Norton, 1991).
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Ideas of Nature
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Mitman, Gregg, Reel Nature: America’s Romance with Wildlife on Film
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History of Conservation and Environmentalism
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Class, Race, Gender, and Nature
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Bullard, Robert, Dumping in (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 2nd ed., 1994).
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Hurley, Andrew, Environmental Inequalities: Class, Race, and Industrial Pollution in Gary, Indiana, 1945-1980 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1995).
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McMurry, Sally, Families and Farmhouses in Nineteenth-Century (New York: Oxford University Press, 1988).
Merchant, Carolyn, The Death of Nature: Women, Ecology, and the Scientific Revolution (New York: Harper & Row, 1980).
Merchant, Carolyn, Ecological Revolutions: Nature, Gender, and Science in (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1989).
Virginia Scharff, “Are Earth Girls Easy? Ecofeminism, Women’s History, and Environmental History, ” Journal of Women’s History, 7 (Summer 1995): 164-75.
Christopher Sellers, "Thoreau's Body: Towards an Embodied Environmental History," Environmental History, 4 (1999), 486-514.
Alan Taylor, "Unnatural Inequalities: Social and Environmental Histories," Environmental History, 4:1 (Oct. 1996), 6-19.
Valencius, Conevery Bolton, The Health of the Country: How American Settlers Understood Themselves and Their Land (
Warren, Louis, The Hunter;s Game: Poachers and Conservationists in Twentieth-Century (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999).
I had been intending to write about justice and was re-reading books by Stuart Hampshire, Onora O’Neill and Amartya Sen, when the news broke of the death first of Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness and then of the detective fiction author, Colin Dexter.
It was time to abandon the justice reviews and turn to my favourite Colin Dexter story. It’s not to be found in his own Morse books, although there is much else to admire in them.
The anecdote comes in Peter Sager’s surprising account of Oxford and Cambridge, subtitled ‘An Uncommon History’. The book itself is uncommon mostly because the author is a German visitor without prior affiliations to Oxbridge, who therefore sees things afresh.
Peter Sager’s book has a splendid cover, the nice touches of a dark blue and a light blue ribbon to use as bookmarks, and many beautiful vignettes of Oxford and Cambridge. Colin Dexter is so central to Sager’s understanding of Oxford that he features much more in this book than, to take one of those writers on justice, that Nobel Prize Laureate economist and former Master of Trinity College, Cambridge, Amartya Sen.
As the creator of the Inspector Morse series of novels and therefore the inspiration for the sublime television series of Morse, Lewis and Endeavour, Colin Dexter has touched our lives. Everyone here in Oxfordshire is familiar with Morse’s Oxford, television-style, in which Hertford’s Bridge of Sighs is always round the corner but the detectives will be coming in or going out of another college altogether and where Masters get murdered.
The television series have given us some glorious music, both that sung in various choirs or played by Morse and that composed especially by Barrington Pheloung. Most memorably, the Morse code beats in the main theme are a distinctive signal of masterly drama.
It is the music which features in Sager’s Dexter story and it is the music which, independently, almost sings out from this book.
Sager is commenting on how knowledgeable the audience is in Oxford’s Holywell Music Room. He explains the distinguished history of the setting: in this intimate space, ‘Joseph Haydn conducted his Symphony No 92 in G Sharp, the so-called Oxford symphony, on 7 July 1791’.
Colin Dexter tells Sager that, ‘We went along once to a concert in which they were playing some obscure work by Dvorak. The organist had been held up, and we waited and waited until the conductor said to the audience: “Is there anybody in the audience who knows this Dvorak requiem?” And thirteen people put their hands up.’
Sager puts the more general point well: ‘Oxford is a city of music. When you first arrive, the first thing you hear the noise of the traffic is the bells … There are bells everywhere.’
In Morse, Lewis and Endeavour, of course, there are also dead bodies everywhere in Oxford, as well as glorious buildings and gardens.
This day of tributes has reminded me of lessons everywhere in detective fiction for our understanding of justice, my intended topic. In his own way, Colin Dexter has prompted us to a deeper understanding of the most fundamental point of our legal system, that everyone should be presumed innocent until proven guilty. The obvious suspect is rarely the real culprit.
Peter Sager and Colin Dexter have left us with one last mystery: whatever happened to that delayed organist on his or her way to the Holywell Music Room? If the delay was due to the organist being murdered, am I being unjust in jumping to the conclusion that the murderer was one of the thirteen volunteer substitutes?