Environment, Culture, and Alaska Identity
Format: Paper and electronic
Anyone curious about what drew people like Christopher McCandless (the subject of Into the Wild) and John Muir to Alaska will find nuanced answers in Frontier Romance, Judith Kleinfeld’s thoughtful study of the iconic American love of the frontier and its cultural influence. Kleinfeld considers the subject through three categories: rebellion, redemption, and rebirth; escape and healing; and utopian community. Within these categories she explores the power of narrative to shape lives through concrete, compelling examples—both heart-warming and horrifying. Ultimately, Kleinfeld argues that the frontier narrative enables Americans—born or immigrant—to live deliberately, to gather courage, and to take risks, face danger, and seize freedom rather than fear it.
Judith Kleinfeld founded and directed the Northern Studies Program at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, which examines psychological, social, cultural, and environmental issues across the circumpolar North. During her more than forty years in Alaska, she has published widely on Northern issues.
"A tour de force. In a brief and pleasingly written 90 pages, Kleinfeld has not only
strengthened Alaska’s role in Northern Studies but re-stimulated questions about what
the West means."
—Journal of the West