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Steven Hoelscher, Chair Burdine 437, Mailcode B7100, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-7277

Fall 2007

AMS 311S • Of Moose and Men: Wilderness in American Culture-W

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
30340 MWF
12:00 PM-1:00 PM
BUR 228

Course Description

From clear-cutting in old growth forests to backcountry camping in isolated mountain ranges, Americans have imagined and interacted with "wilderness" in multiple waysas a howling desert, a source of lumber and valuable minerals, a sublime expression of divinity, a recreational asset, and an antidote to civilization. This course examines social, political, economic, environmental, and cultural trends that affect ideas and practices connected to wilderness in the United States. Specific themes include: " Human values and religious significance assigned to wilderness " Intersections between wilderness and national identity " Gendered connotations in constructions of wilderness " Federal policies affecting humans, flora, fauna, and public lands " Environmental and social implications of outdoor recreation " Contemporary controversies over wildernessi.e. oil drilling, snowmobiling, eco-terrorism

By the end of this course, students will be able to: " Compare and contrast social constructions of wilderness in the United States. " Evaluate the legacy of major historical figures on attitudes toward wilderness. " Analyze representations of wilderness in primary sources like newspapers, paintings, sculpture, photography, music, film, television, movies, advertisements, and web sites. " Apply historical knowledge about wilderness to critical analyses of contemporary issues.

Grading Policy

The course will entail a combination of lectures and discussion. Students are expected to actively participate in discussions by contributing knowledge drawn from readings and from their own critical thinking. In class, students will regularly be asked to complete a brief response paper, share their musings with classmates, and hand in the response. During the semester, students will turn in two 3-4 page essays analyzing how wilderness is represented in primary sources and tying that analysis to class material. Students will also select a topic that relates to major themes of the course for a 10-12 page research paper, due on the last day of class. This course is reading-intensive and fulfills the requirement for a substantial writing component.

(a) Attendance and response papers (20%). Students will be evaluated on the quality of short in-class papers, which should include evidence of having completed the assigned readings. More than two absences from class will negatively affect a student's grade. (b) Two take-home papers3-4 pages each (40% total). Students will be evaluated on the clarity of writing, depth of analysis, and ability to incorporate material from course readings and lectures into the paper. (c) Final research paper10-12 pages plus a bibliography of at least five sources (40%). Students will be evaluated on the clarity of writing, strength of analysis, effective use of outside sources, and ability to incorporate material from course readings and lectures.


Course packet Edward Abbey. Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness. New York: Ballantine Books. 1968


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