Garrett Dash Nelson
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Background image: "White Island Light, Isles of Shoals, N.H." Detroit Photographic Co., 1901.
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Curriculum vitae


University of Wisconsin–Madison, Madison, Wisconsin, September 2011 – present. PhD in Geography, in progress. Advisor: William Cronon. Affiliate, Center for Culture, History, and Environment. University Fellow.

University of Nottingham, Nottingham, United Kingdom, September 2010 – September 2011. Awarded MA with Distinction in Landscape and Culture, School of Geography, December 2011. Advisors: Charles Watkins and Susanne Seymour. Dissertation: Olmsted in England, a historical geography of Frederick Law Olmsted's 1850 trip. Fulbright Postgraduate Scholar.

Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, September 2005 – June 2009. Awarded AB summa cum laude in Social Studies, June 2009. Secondary field in Visual and Environmental Studies. Honors thesis, Towards the New Ruralism, an exploration of the power of rurality in American history. Coursework included social theory, social and cultural anthropology, landscape history, visual and spatial studies, American studies, leisure studies, modern literature, and 20th-century philosophy. Phi Beta Kappa. Harvard College Research Program grantee. Detur Prize, John Harvard Scholar, Harvard College Scholar honors.

Nashua High School North, Nashua, New Hampshire, September 2001 – June 2005. Valedictorian.


Book Review: Jo Guldi, “Roads to Power.” Historical Geography 42 (December 2014) (forthcoming, accepted).

See also the Work section of this website.

Academic appointments and fellowships

Project Assistant, Center for Culture, History, and Environment in the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, August 2013 – present.

Teaching Assistant, Geography/Environmental Studies 339: Environmental Conservation, Spring 2013.

Teaching Assistant, History/Geography/Environmental Studies 460: American Environmental History, Fall 2012.

University Fellow / Advanced Opportunity Fellow, University of Wisconsin–Madison, 2011 – present.

Fulbright Postgraduate Scholar, US-UK Fulbright Commission, 2010 – 2011.

George Peabody Gardner Fellow, Harvard University, September 2009 – June 2010. Independent research in Albania on the links between landscape and social ideology in the Communist, anarchic, and capitalist modes.

Presentations and conferences

American Society for Environmental History, March 2014. Delegate to the “Digital Environmental History” pre-conference workshop.

Dimensions of Political Ecology, February 2014. Presented “It shows what ought to be”: Benton MacKaye and the ‘geotechnics’ of the planned state.

Social Science History Association, November 2013. Presented The instructive landscape: Social reform and environmental thought in the Progressive Era.

Society for American City and Regional Planning History, 17 – 20 November 2011. Presented Civilization and Communicativeness: Social Theory of Frederick Law Olmsted.

Museum of English Rural Life, Seminar Series, 22 Feburary 2011. Presented Transatlantic traffic in rural imaginations. Sponsored by British Fubright Scholars Association Occassional Lecture Fund.

American Society for Environmental History, March 2012. Attended; graduate student volunteer.

Rural History, 13 – 16 September 2010. Attended.


Clarence W. Olmstead Award for Outstanding Citizenship, University of Wisconsin–Madison Department of Geography, April 2013.

Robert S. Birch Student Travel Award, Society for American City and Regional Planning History, November 2011.


Harvard University Student Porter Program, House Captain, August 2005 – June 2009.

Harvard University Advising Programs Office, Peer Advising Fellow, September 2006 – May 2009.

New Hampshire Democratic Party, Intern, July 2007 – August 2007.


For speaking with people: English (native), Albanian (intermediate), Arabic (very limited); For speaking with machines: HTML(5), CSS, PHP, Python, JavaScript/JQuery, Perl (rudimentary)


Appalachian Mountain Club, Four Thousand Footer Club, Badger Orienteering Club

PDF Download PDF version of CV

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Other Haunts

My personal blog, updated on a grueling “once in a while” basis.
140-carat gold nuggets sifted from the great stream of chattering pebbles.

Internet Merit Badges

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Selected work



Journalistic writing

Reference map: Balkan Peninsula
Balkan Map
Visual storytelling: Edward Bellamy
Edward Bellamy Infographic
Slippy map: Moultonborough Tourism
Moultonborough Tourism
Historical cartography: Survey Graphic
Survey Graphic
Harvard College Environmental Action Committee
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Contact information

Before divulging my contact information, let's make sure you’re a human and not a Cialis-peddling robot.

Long distance hiking Captcha

Q: On August 14 of what year was the final link of the Appalachian Trail completed?


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By way of introduction


I’m a graduate student in historical geography at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. My core research interest is in the relationship of the ideational world to the environmental world — specifically, the way in which landscape and social ideology call each other into existence through the process of imagining the desired future. As a geographer, I tramp (sometimes uninvited) through other disciplines, particularly history, social anthropology, archaeology, philosophy, land planning, architecture and landscape architecture, material culture studies, ecology, and visual studies. My undergraduate work dealt with the historical trajectory of a rural mentality in the American experience; my masters work treated issues of landscape, mobility, and cultural genealogy; and my current work attempts to rotate the “landscape and memory” tradition into a consideration of “landscape and aspiration”.

Chronologically, my work falls in what I call the “really long nineteenth century” — roughly from the Seven Years’ War to the 1973 Oil Crisis — or the period that may otherwise be termed High Modernity. Spatially, I focus on North America, with a particular interest in New England.

I grew up in New Hampshire and have spent every summer from age zero to twenty-five on a small island in the north of the state. I consider this as more than a snatch of biographical trivia, since human motivation and geographic emplacedness are so basically co-constituted.