Hvattum, Mari, Bria Brenna, Beate Elvebakk, and Janike Kampevold Larsen, eds., Routes, Roads and Landscapes.

Author:Hirsch, Mike
Position::Book review
 
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Hvattum, Mari, Bria Brenna, Beate Elvebakk, and Janike Kampevold Larsen, eds., Routes, Roads and Landscapes. Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2011. xvii + 248 pages. Cloth, $124.95.

Routes, Roads" and Landscapes is a multi-disciplinary volume that explores how the way we move influences "landscape experience and representation (p. 5). Building upon a project funded by the Norwegian Research Council, the book traverses time and space, boards various modes of transportation, and peruses assorted representational media in its exploration of our relationship with our surroundings. It further examines how this relationship influences culture and power.

The book opens with an essay examining movement through Norway's countryside as experienced and recorded by Danish-Norwegian kings between the late seventeenth and late eighteenth centuries. This travel was undertaken to assert authority ("European kings ... moved their courts to uphold control over territories ...") (p. 17), and was commemorated with maps, paintings, and printed narratives. Subsequent essays explore how ways of seeing are transformed by changing modes of transportation. We learn that panoramic views provided by fiver and canal travel engendered tourism and gave rise to "a mode of seeing that ... was to become the nineteenth century's dominant visual paradigm" (p. 38). We also learn that road construction in Ireland, initially undertaken as a means to improve the "countryside (and connect) terminals" (p. 46) is soon recognized to engender tourism and facilitate a "new aesthetic" (p. 49).

Transportation and tourism are paired in this work because transportation routes provide access to once isolated areas. Vistas born of utilitarian construction are visited for aesthetic experiences (e.g., "Krokkeiva became renowned .... for its beautiful views and dramatic descent ... the first Norwegian tourist road) (p. 61). Later, efforts to engender aesthetic experience became part of the transportation construction process and developed a political dimension. The Blue Ridge Parkway in the United States and the Alpenstrasse (Alpine Road) in Germany "began as work-creation projects [to] open up relatively neglected tourist regions" (p. 126) in areas with aesthetic potential. But pursuit of the aesthetic had a darker side in both countries. Parkway construction in the United States was said to be "quasi-eugenic" (p. 128) in that it displaced or hid poor families, while German policies dictated that the...

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