Calling all Wild Women and Grizzly Men: get in touch with your wildside! Ever since Thoreau retreated to his cabin in the woods to “live deliberately,” modern Americans have journeyed into the wild to gain a deeper understanding of the self and our place in the world. We will first investigate how wilderness has shaped American ideals of individuality and self-reliance in landmark nature writing texts like Walden, and in contemporary nonfiction such as Elizabeth Gilbert’s The Last American Man and John Krakauer’s Into the Wild. We will then explore the historical development of the American understanding of wilderness from the frontier era through the twentieth century. Finally, we will explore contemporary wilderness narratives, ecofiction and ecopoetry, that shape ongoing conversations of the “green” movement. This course emphasizes field experiences as much as academic research; we will integrate outdoor activities with writing and textual study. Students will write three papers, keep a wilderness journal, team-teach assigned readings, participate in a service adventure, and complete a final wilderness project.
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