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The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the American Landscape, 1865–1904

John Davis, Harvard University, William R. Tyler Fellow 2015–2017

The fellowship has allowed me generous time to work on my dissertation, to reevaluate some of my approaches to writing landscape history, and to pursue other enriching projects. The scope and approach to writing this environmental, institutional, and technological history underwent a beneficial evolution during my time in the Garden and Landscape Studies program. Participating in the “Landscape and the Academy” symposium caused me to focus on the pedagogical intent of both constructed and wild landscapes in military education and led me to new areas of research into questions of military training to see landscapes in certain ways. Conversations with Jeffrey Hamburger about his work on medieval diagrams provoked fruitful investigation into military uses of geometric systems and how surface analysis affected the conception and execution of civil engineering projects. And the wealth of nineteenth-century sources on botany in the library helped my research on how particular sedges and a certain species of elm came to be seen as important structural elements in engineering practice.