Group Contacts: Dr. Robert Emmons, Department of Fine Arts

Travel Dates: Approximately May 28 – June 8, 2019

Class Meeting Times: Thursdays from 3:55pm-5:45pm

Course number: 50:965:375

Program Cost: Approximately $3,400

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Popular Culture of the Last Frontier: Exploring Alaska will excavate the landscape, people, and culture of Alaska by studying its various representations in popular culture and experiencing the state on the ground. At home, students will conduct comparative studies of historical and academic texts of Alaska with the state’s presentation in popular culture (literature, film, television, and comic books). In-class we will read, watch, and listen to various depictions of Alaska and discuss how those depictions impact the external image of a place. Students will create an “identity list” that collects descriptions as they see Alaska depicted from the outside. Particular time and attention will be paid to the Native peoples of Alaska, and the intersection of the first settlers to travel there.

During class, students will take their “identity lists” and create their own visual “look books” (digital collections of materials that represent Alaska as they have seen it through popular culture). These representations will be held up against the student’s actual experience of Alaska in a variety of ways. While “on the ground” in Alaska, students will curate a visual travelogue scrapbook (in the 19th century tradition) that will collect material culture from their travels. Scrapbooks will include field notes, postcards, reflective writing, photos, drawings, flora, tokens and souvenirs like napkins, coasters, brochures, etc. from the places we visit (essentially various types of ephemera they come across on their travels).

While in Alaska students will also produce video reflections during our travels. These video diaries will be edited together as a final reflection on their time in Alaska, and perhaps most importantly, a reflection on the popular representation of Alaska and its peoples as compared to their personal experience and journey in the actual place, creating a synthesis of their experience and prior research.

*The program cost includes airfare, lodging, cultural visits, and some meals. The program cost is approximate and subject to change and is in addition to tuition.