The Eastern Shore in Robert de Gast’s Wake
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When any space becomes familiar, it becomes a place. Thus, place is a uniquely personal concept. This project began with a passion to explore this place I now call home—the Eastern Shore—and find a way to best define that sense of place. Evoked by one specific text, Western Wind Eastern Shore: A Sailing Cruise around the Eastern Shore of Maryland, Delaware, and Virginia (1975), written and photographed by Robert de Gast, I discovered the means to achieve both goals: follow in his wake, by circumnavigating the Eastern Shore by boat; and to capture that experience via writing a personal essay, including photographs, of the places we visited—just as de Gast did. Through this process, I discover that sense of place cannot be easily defined except through being conscious of one’s experiences as one inhabits or moves through a range of natural, built and social environments. Putting myself on a boat, with particular companions, on a planned route, provided me with a range of such experiences, a narrative for making sense of them, and the focus necessary for that consciousness. In performing my own engagement with place, I found I was able to create my own personal definition of place in relation to the Eastern Shore. This interdisciplinary project also includes an examination of academic literature from 1965 to present day dedicated to defining sense of place, revealing a critical consensus that describes places as those locations that have been given meaning by human experience. I then examine the relationship between photography and stories about place—two of the primary tools for recording facets of sense of place—which help provide evidence of the human experience in a landscape. Finally, I review nine books that—via their authors’ personal narratives and photography—attempt to explore sense of place on the Eastern Shore.
DepartmentGraduate Liberal Studies
CitationGreenaway, Kristen L. (2017). The Eastern Shore in Robert de Gast’s Wake. Master's thesis, Duke University. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/10161/14078.
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Rights for Collection: Graduate Liberal Studies