‘Into the Wild’ to Spark Lively Discussion at Mason This Spring

Posted: February 22, 2006 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

Into the Wild cover

Can man conquer nature? What does it mean to live on the fringes of society? How do humans push themselves to the extreme, and why? In Jon Krakauer’s book, “Into the Wild,” these questions are explored, as well as the themes of wilderness, society and exploration, in a compelling nonfiction narrative.

The book tells the story of a young man, Christopher Johnson McCandless, who gave up all his savings, hitchhiked to Alaska and walked alone into the wilderness. His decomposed body was found four months later. Krakauer pieces together the last few months of McCandless’s life, as well as delving farther into his past, as he tries to determine the motivations of the young man and what compelled him to his ultimate fate.

The book is the subject of George Mason’s Text and Community program this spring. Throughout the semester, students across the university will engage in interdisciplinary discussion, according to English Assistant Professor Mark Sample, one of the committee members planning the project. He not only sees the possibilities of placing the book within a literary tradition that includes Henry David Thoreau and Jack London, but also taking social and political approaches to the discussion.

“For example, discussions of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and American ideals like ‘living off the land,’ or the modern equivalent, moving ‘off the grid’ are applicable,” says Sample.

A film series, as well as numerous discussions and roundtables, will take place on the Fairfax Campus throughout March and April.

Bill McKibben, noted author and former New Yorker staff writer, will give two lectures on global warming: “The Environment as a Moral Issue: How Big Should People Be?” at 10:30 a.m. on April 19 in the Johnson Center’s Dewberry Hall; and “Deep Economy: A Slightly Hopeful Version of What Might Come Next” at 7:30 p.m. on April 19 in a location yet to be determined.

The Text and Community Committee is also sponsoring a creative nonfiction and critical essay contest for both undergraduate and graduate students. The deadline for essays is March 1; more information about the rules can be found on the Text and Community web site.

Other events include:

  • Thursday, March 2—movie, “Touching the Void,” 7:30 p.m., Eisenhower Commons Multimedia Room
  • Thursday, March 23—Movie, “Atanarjuat (Fast Runner),” 7:30 p.m., Eisenhower Commons Multimedia Room
  • Tuesday, April 4—Lecture by Kyoko Mori, English, on “The Narrator in Nonfiction,” 5:55 to 7:10 p.m., Enterprise Hall, Room 178
  • Thursday, April 6—Movie, “Grizzly Man,” 7:30 p.m., Eisenhower Commons Multimedia Room
  • Wednesday, April 19—Interdisciplinary panel, “Perspectives on ‘Into the Wild,’”featuring Eric Anderson, English; Julia Nord, New Century College; and Mike O’Malley, History, 5:55 to 7:10 p.m., Enterprise Hall, Room 178
  • Thursday, April 20—Movie, “Ravenous,” 7:30 p.m., Eisenhower Commons Multimedia Room

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