Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version



Great Plains Quarterly 30:1 (Winter 2010)


Copyright 2013 Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska-Lincoln


While the inescapable subjectivism of historical writing has become something of a given in the age of postmodern theory, the objectivity of visual documents, especially in scientific and technical realms such as topography and natural history, has remained less examined and analyzed. In his challenging and imaginative study of the numerous sketches produced by Samuel Seymour and Titian Ramsey Peale during the survey expedition following the Platte River led by Major Stephen Long (considered to be the first western expedition to include professional artists), Kenneth Haltman skillfully demonstrates not only the complexity of these ostensibly slight and impartial images, but their willful artifice, how they repeatedly acknowledge their status as representation and in turn operated within the larger historical factors governing the exploration and promotion of the American West in the first half of the nineteenth century.