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John James Audubon and "The Birds of America": Nationalism and the Roots of Conservation in the Early Republic

During September and October, five lectures will take place in Orange Hall Gallery. The "BIRDS: Enduring Feathered Creatures" Lecture Series complements the 115-piece exhibit of the same title in place in the gallery through October 22. The topics vary focusing on habitat relative to climate and land-use changes, bird conservation, indigenous birds, ancestry, and art. All the lectures are free and open to the public.

To offer a perspective on the admiration and appreciation given to birds and the beginnings of conservation in the United States, Professor Kerry Dean Carso will give a lecture entitled "John James Audubon and 'The Birds of America': Nationalism and the Roots of Conservation in the Early Republic." This event will take place on Wednesday, Sept. 21 at 7 p.m.

In this illustrated lecture, Carso will demonstrate how John James Audubon’s extraordinary paintings of birds contributed to the development of an American national identity and heightened Americans’ appreciation of wildlife, landscape, and the natural environment. Carso will explain how Audubon’s art contributed to a sense of nationalism and helped plant the roots of future efforts for the conservation of natural resources.

Carso is chair and associate professor of art history at SUNY New Paltz, where she teaches courses on American art and architecture.  Her research focuses on interconnections between the arts and literature in the nineteenth-century United States.  A resident of Matamoras, Pa., she has published books and essays, most notably one on architecture in Hudson River School paintings which appeared in the exhibition catalogue for The Hudson River to Niagara Falls: Nineteenth-Century Landscape Paintings from the New-York Historical Society (2009) at the Dorsky Museum of Art on the SUNY New Paltz campus. In 2014, she authored "American Gothic Art and Architecture in the Age of Romantic Literature" and was the winner of the 2015 Henry-Russell Hitchcock Award from the Victorian Society in America. She received a PhD and MA in American Studies from Boston University and an AB in English and American Literature and Language from Harvard University.  She taught previously at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia.

Questions may be directed to and (845) 341-4891. You may also check out the Cultural Affairs website at

Event date, time and location.

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Dorothy Szefc
Cultural Affairs