Reading the Landscape
Berger Park Cultural Center
6205 N Sheridan Road, Chicago IL
September 28 + November 2 + December 7, 2022
January 11 + May 31, 2023
Join us for an evolving reading group, named after our seed text Reading the Landscape by May Theilgaard Watts. The 1957 edition of this work carried the subtitle: ‘An Adventure in Ecology’ and this is what we wish our group reading and discussion to be – purposefully following where the text/landscape takes us.

You do not have to read a particular book to join or participate in this group. With Reading the Landscape as a starting prompt, we will chart and document the unpredictable path of ourselves reading, as the group spreads out to follow individual curiosities, and gathers together to share field reports on what we have learned. Broad themes under discussion are related to Chicagoland, Ecology, and Art. We have started a small give-a-book, take-a-book shelf in the library of Berger Park Culture Center to reflect and share related texts.

May Theilgaard Watts was a naturalist at The Morton Arboretum, and many of the ecologies examined in ‘Reading the Landscape’ are in close proximity to the City, including the Indiana Dunes, Rock River, Wisconsin lakes and forests, Wheatland prairie, Chicagoland highways, and elsewhere. For additional biographical information about May Theilgaard Watts, and to view samples of the diagrammatic and botanical drawing style which are found throughout her published texts, please visit The Morton Arboretum online archive.

Roman Susan will aim to have a handful of copies of Reading the Landscape we can loan to anyone who would like to participate. Right now we are reading the second edition of this work, Reading the Landscape of America, which was published 18 years after the first publication. This edition includes postscripts to chapters that revisit landscapes described decades earlier. You can start wherever you want – first version, revised, or something else entirely, in the spirit of ‘An Adventure in Ecology’ – let us know what you find!

This event is being shared at Berger Park Cultural Center as part of Movement Studies – a programming series investigating social and environmental transitions.