From Thoreau in his cabin at Walden Pond to Sondheim’s fairytale characters, when one goes “into the woods” he or she is often in search of the ineffable: cures for the ills of modern society or answers to deep existential questions. And in centuries worth of literature what’s found there is nothing more or less profound than our deepest selves. In this seminar we will explore both 19th century and modern authors who go into nature asking big questions—about how to live as an authentic human being, about the nature and majesty of creation—and the dangers and wonders that they find on their journeys. Delvers will read excerpts from American Transcendentalists Emerson and Thoreau and explore two modern narratives about those that followed in their footsteps: Chris McCandless’s story in John Krakauer’s Into the Wild and Annie Dillard’s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek.
Guide: Joanna Stein holds master’s degrees in English Literature and Education from Portland State, where she also serves as an occasional adjunct writing instructor. A former radio producer for NPR, she now works full time teaching Language Arts at a Lake Oswego high school.
Mondays, November 2 – 30, 2015 6:30 – 8:30 pm (5 meetings)