Places of Mediated Nature

Authored by: David Lulka

The Ashgate Research Companion to Media Geography

Print publication date:  August  2014
Online publication date:  March  2016

Print ISBN: 9781409444015
eBook ISBN: 9781315613178
Adobe ISBN: 9781317042822


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Befitting the times, I want to begin this consideration of nature media by utilizing a specific technology – namely, Google’s Ngram Viewer. This technology allows one to chart the prevalence of particular words or phrases published in books over the last few hundred years. Thus, for example, from 1750–2008, it can be seen that the notion of “pestilence” had its heyday before 1900, whereas “pollution” only garnered a moderate presence until it spiked in the late 1960s and rebounded once again in the 1990s (Figure 9.1). Or, it is possible to observe that discussion of “wilderness” peaked in the mid-1800s before its representation gradually declined amid other modern concerns. In the meantime, the idea of “sustainability” emerged in the 1980s as a powerful dogma, its presence eventually statistically eclipsing that of wilderness. With these examples in mind, the main goal of this chapter is to reconsider the cause of these changes: in short, does narrative play a determinate role or do nonhuman forces also have a substantial impact? Figure 9.1 Historical prevalence of environmental terms as shown by Google Ngrams for <i>pestilence, pollution, wilderness, and sustainability</i> Source: Google Inc.

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