Access Type

Open Access Thesis

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name



Art and Art History

First Advisor

Dora Apel


This paper examines the reutterances of the sublime experience in the American landscape throughout nineteenth-century paintings and into the twenty-first century. Ultimately, the examination of key moments in American art, such as the Hudson River School, Barnett Newman's paintings, Land Art, Light and Space art movement, and contemporary works by Doug Wheeler and Jon Rafman, reveal a changing perception and definition of the subliminal experience in the American landscape. In nineteenth-century landscape paintings, more specifically in romantic art, what appears to be the depiction of nature's mighty and terrible force, in essence, is the celebration of human reason and the proclamation of manifest destiny. Linked to the American advancement and pursuit of technology in the landscape itself or in new spaces. Although vastly different in style and form, specific works it the twenty-first century, whether in-avertedly or not, continue the American dogma of Manifest Destiny. Through a careful and detailed examination of specific works of the American landscape I will demonstrate that the sublime experience in the American space is reserved for a select few: those privileged enough to gain access to the direct benefits of technology, whether mechanical or digital, industrial or informational.