Course Description

This course introduced students to individual and cultural attitudes toward nature and their expression in narrative fiction, travel writing, poetry, and nonfiction. We traced the evolving conception of nature through the rise of preservation and the ongoing concern with the nature of wilderness, inhabited landscapes, bioregionalism and sense of place—with a special focus on the continued search for wildness in Alaska. Weekly field outings with writers, scientists, and cultural historians complemented the readings and foregrounded the distinctive cultural and natural history of the Southeast Alaska bioregion.

Guest Instructors
Matthew Brooks has worked for the Forest Service for the last four years, either at the Mendenhall Glacier or as a biotech doing bird surveys around SE Alaska. Matt is originally from New Mexico, but got into birding when he moved to Alaska about six years ago. He has traveled to twenty-five countries in search of birds in that time.

Richard Carstensen works as a naturalist for Discovery Southeast in Juneau, Alaska, an organization dedicated tostrengthening and enriching the bond between Southeast Alaskans and the unique qualities of the Southeast Alaska coastal environment. Co-author and illustrator of the guidebook The Nature of Southeast Alaska, Richard’s most recent work is with the Landmark Tree Project and the Ground-Truthing Project dedicated to the search for Southeast Alaska’s remaining stands of large, ancient trees.

Cathy Connor is Associate Professor of Geology in the University Alaska Southeast Environmental Science Program. Her professional experience includes teaching geoscience courses at UAS, at Alaska Pacific University in Anchorage, at University Montana, Missoula, and at the Agricultural University of Malaysia and working for the USGS Branch of Alaskan Geology producing geologic maps of the state. Co-author of the book Roadside Geology of Alaska, one of her recent research collaborations is between UAS and the National Park Service in Glacier Bay is linking ancient emergent forests and glacial sediments with Alaska Native Tlingit Remembered Landscapes.

Nora Marks Daunhauer is one of three clan leaders of the Loot Kw’aan Clan. A native Tlingit speaker, Nora is internationally recognized for her field work, transcription, translation and explication of Tlingit oral literature and was a principle researcher in language and cultural studies at the Sealaska Heritage foundation in Juneau until 1997. Her creative writing has been widely published, including her books of poetry The Droning Shaman (1988) and Life Woven with Song (2000). She has also co-authored and co-edited several editions of Tlingit language and folklore material with her husband Richard, including “Because We Cherish You. . .”: Sealaska Elders Speak to the Future (1981).

Richard Dauenhauer has lived in Alaska since 1969—and from 1981 to 1988 served as Alaska’s seventh Poet Laureate. He publications include the books of poems Glacier Bay Concerto (1980) and Frames of Reference (1987). His teaching and scholarship has focused on applied folklore and linguistics, and he is widely recognized as a translator of poetry. Richard and Nora are co-editors of the three-volume series in Classics of Tlingit Oral Literature: Haa Shuká, Our Ancestors: Tlingit Oral Narratives (1987), Haa Tuwunaágu Yís, For Healing Our Spirit: Tlingit Oratory (1990) and Haa Kusteeyí, Our Culture: Tlingit Life Stories (1994).  

Kim Heacox lives in Gustavus, Alaska, a small town accessible only by plane or boat, population 350, not including wolves, eagles and bears. The solitude allows quiet time for Kim’s writing – he has been a freelance writer and photographer for fifteen years and has authored many books and magazine articles on biography, natural history and environmental issues. The author of the memoir, The Only Kayak, Kim’s current projects include a book on the Antarctic explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton, a political novel about Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and a book of essays about living in Glacier Bay. With his wife, Melanie, Kim is building the Glacier Bay Institute on eight wooded acres in Gustavus. When completed it will host a writer/artist-in-residence program and a series of seminars/retreats for attendees to celebrate and preserve the natural history of Alaska.

We are fortunate to have a range of guides and guest speakers for the 2006 summer session. The searching for wildness field component would not have been possible without the generosity and enthusiasm of Annie Caulkins and the local knowledge and organizational skills of Eileen Clark.