The Use and Abuse of American Environmental Images
Finis Dunaway closes that gap with Seeing Green. Considering a wide array of images—including pictures in popular magazines, television news, advertisements, cartoons, films, and political posters—he shows how popular environmentalism has been entwined with mass media spectacles of crisis. Beginning with radioactive fallout and pesticides during the 1960s and ending with global warming today, he focuses on key moments in which media images provoked environmental anxiety but also prescribed limited forms of action. Moreover, he shows how the media have blamed individual consumers for environmental degradation and thus deflected attention from corporate and government responsibility. Ultimately, Dunaway argues, iconic images have impeded efforts to realize—or even imagine—sustainable visions of the future.
Generously illustrated, this innovative book will appeal to anyone interested in the history of environmentalism or in the power of the media to shape our politics and public life.
“Dunaway’s methodological approach to visual culture is extremely important for western historians as well as those in all historical subdisciplines. Rather than using images as mere illustrations of arguments made through more traditional source materials, Dunaway analyzes photographs, advertisements, cartoons, television shows, and films as primary historical texts. His deep readings show clearly that visual culture not only reflects social values but also actively shapes history. . . . Seeing Green is a must-read for those interested in the role of images in shaping American environmentalism and, perhaps more importantly, should serve as a methodological best practice for historians desirous of incorporating visual culture into their analysis.”
Association of American Publishers: PROSE Book Award