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The Language of Landscape: Frederic Church and the Culture of Detail in Nineteenth-Century America

Jennifer Raab, Yale University, Junior Fellow 2008/09

During my fellowship at Dumbarton Oaks, I completed my dissertation and will graduate from Yale in May. While in residence, I wrote my final two chapters and revised the entire dissertation, which is entitled Frederic Church and the Culture of Detail. I will begin a three-year postdoctoral fellowship at the end of the summer.

My stay at Dumbarton Oaks was invaluable, not only because of the time, freedom, and resources that the fellowship provided, but also because of the community of scholars that I found here. My final chapter examined Frederic Church’s landscape at Olana (Hudson, New York), and I arrived in September unsure of how to conceptualize a physical landscape, and how, specifically, I was going to situate Olana in relation to Church’s landscape paintings. Presenting my research report and hearing the responses from those within and outside my field was enormously productive. My conversations throughout the year with the fellows in Garden and Landscape Studies, and particularly with our director, John Beardsley, aided and advanced my work on my last chapter significantly. I pursued new research directions and explored surprising connections that I never would have discovered had I not been in residence here. My understanding of what constitutes landscape has been deepened and enriched, and I look forward to pursuing these ideas not only as I revise my dissertation for publication, but also as I begin to develop courses and exhibitions for the years ahead.

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