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Rails and ties : a comparison of late nineteenth-century images of western railways in Canada and the United States

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Rails and ties : a comparison of late nineteenth-century images of western railways in Canada and the United States

Fournier, Martine (2000) Rails and ties : a comparison of late nineteenth-century images of western railways in Canada and the United States. Masters thesis, Concordia University.

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Abstract

This thesis is a comparative examination of late nineteenth-century (c. 1869 to 1900) images of railways in the Canadian and American Western landscapes, focusing on differences in how transcontinental railways were depicted in the mountainous Western terrain of each country. It pits Frederick Jackson Turner's "frontier thesis" about colonization of the American West against Northrop Frye's view of Canadian development, the "garrison mentality" theory, exploring how these theories manifested themselves in the culture of each country, first using nineteenth-century literature, then examining visual examples. Drawing on Gaile McGregor's theory that nineteenth-century representations of the Canadian landscape demonstrate a negative relationship with wilderness, and Barbara Novak's examination of positive aspects of American landscape such as warm light and calm water, the thesis traces how images of railways in the mountains of the West reflect the reactions of Americans and Canadians to landscape. The study concentrates on American railway imagery as evidence of a fulfilling and peaceful relationship with wilderness, and Canadian images as repositories for more fearful reactions. However, it also highlights the complexity of attitudes about Western landscape in both countries by exploring examples that contradict this dichotomy, and examining the ambiguous nature of many landscape components. Artists and photographers discussed include Lucius O'Brien, John A. Fraser, F. M. Bell-Smith, and Oliver Buell in Canada, and Albert Bierstadt, Thomas Moran, Carleton Watkins, and William Henry Jackson in the United States.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Fine Arts > Art History
Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Authors:Fournier, Martine
Pagination:xv, 232 leaves : ill. ; 29 cm.
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:Theses (M.A.)
Program:Art History
Date:2000
Thesis Supervisor(s):Foss, Brian
ID Code:1068
Deposited By:Concordia University Libraries
Deposited On:27 Aug 2009 13:16
Last Modified:08 Dec 2010 10:18
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