This thesis is concerned with exploring shifts in the relationship of American culture to nature produced by the rise of modernity. In the 1890s Frederick Jackson Turner proposed that, though officially closed, the experience of the frontier would continue to exert a dominant influence over the shaping of the American character. Throughout this work, Turner’s proposal will be tested in relation to the widespread social changes of the twentieth century that have insulated American culture from a direct connection with nature. I will argue that the suppression of past forms of the nature/culture dichotomy creates troubling paradoxes for the contemporary understanding of American exceptionalism and identity as based on frontier history. The introduction to this work will provide a theoretical and historical backdrop of the importance of Turner’s proposal in the understanding of contemporary American culture as well as an analysis of modernizing forces that have contributed to the conflict between past and present versions of the nature/culture dichotomy. Following this, chapter one will deal more specifically with the history of the Gilded Age and the twentieth century in order to explore the major transformations of modernity separating America from its frontier past. The second chapter will then analyze the reinterpretation of frontier culture as expressed through nineteenth century pastoral literature by contemporary criticism to further present the socially insulating effects of modernity. Finally, the last chapter will describe the persistence of past forms of the relationship of culture and nature in American society, as colored by the conditions of modernity. Throughout this work, the central theme of disconnection from nature caused by the changes of modernity will be seen as tragically conflicting with the historical and ideological conception of the American character as formed by a past interaction with the land.