Discussion 4: Nature’s State

This week’s topic of discussion explores the  way the rest of America views Alaska. Susan Kollins, who wrote the part environmental, part rhetorical theory book  Nature’s State, discusses ideas of “unpeopled wilderness” and the rhetoric assigned to  Alaskan. Kollins writes, “While Alaska often fascinates Americans because of its status as the Last Frontier, the region nevertheless remains largely outside the United State’s imagined community, serving as an extraneous space not fully accommodated into a national sense of self” (6). In other words, Alaska is viewed by America  as a wilderness space, both a part of the US and outside of it. Instead, Kollins continues, Alaska is thought of as a vast, unpeopled area, that has limitless natural resources  and wilderness.

In his opinion piece “Why do Reality Shows Make Alaska Look Insane?” Craig Medred discusses one of the ways Alaska is represented to the outside world. Like Kollins, Medred sees these representations as superficial and incomplete.

Read the following article and then answer the question below:

*  “Introduction‘ chapter in  Nature’s State  by Susan Kollins (located in blackboard resources section)

*’Why do Reality Shows Make Alaska Look Insane?’ by Craig Medred

Kollins and Medred both discuss representations of Alaska, and complicate how  Alaska is viewed by outsiders and Alaskans alike.  Kollins’ essay was especially dense, so I’d like you to spend most of your time thinking and discussing this essay. What is Kollins saying about American identity? What problems does Kollins see in the rhetoric we use to discuss Alaska? What is problematic about Alaska as the wilderness state? How does this tie to resource extraction? What might some of the problems be with the way reality TV shows characterize Alaska, according to Kollins?

Got it? Now  jump over to Slack to join the discussion.


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