Krakauer’s ‘Into the Wild’ Chosen for Text and Community Program

Posted: December 20, 2005 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

Into the Wild bookcover

Jon Krakauer’s 1997 nonfiction book “Into the Wild” is the selection for Mason’s 2006 interdisciplinary Text and Community program.

The book follows young college graduate Christopher McCandless as he strips himself of his possessions, changes his name and hitchhikes his way toward Alaska – and toward a fate likely far different from what he expected. Four months after vanishing from civilization, McCandless was found dead in a remote campsite in Alaska.

“Krakauer is part detective, piecing together the young man’s journey north, and part psychologist, explaining the allure of the wild and the powerful sway it holds over the American imagination,” says English Assistant Professor Mark Sample, one of the committee members planning the project. “Ultimately, Krakauer’s beautifully written book is an inquiry into American identity, the residual ideology of Manifest Destiny and the role of humans in a natural world.”

Throughout the spring semester, students across campus will engage in discussion on these and other issues, according to Sample, who 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.

The Text and Community Committee is currently lining up several events in conjunction with “Into the Wild,” including special lectures and presentations, a multidisciplinary panel discussion and a film series, which may include films such as Werner Herzog’s recent documentary “Grizzly Man.”

This story originally appeared in a slightly different form in Not Just Letters, the English Department’s newsletter.

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