Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Mock ASLE Abstracts

Post your 250-word ASLE paper abstracts here, and feel free to comment on other posts. Your abstracts should outline a set of concerns that you'd like to explore. 

They don't have to definitively conclude anything, yet, as you haven't written the paper.  Abstracts are often speculative and suggestive, which should feel relieving to you.  They are much like your blog posts in that they raise a particular question and articulate why it's important.  You read a hundred abstracts for the ASLE program assignment, so that should also give you a sense of how they are written.  And at the beginning of the semester, you scribbled out a freewrite-abstract, which you may or may not want to develop here.  Your hypotheses may change over the course of researching and writing the paper, which is fine!  

The paper doesn't have to be scholarly, either; you can propose a creative or poetic piece. 

My one strongest piece of advice: write what YOU WANT to write about. Think about a moment in class when you had a "huh, that's really interesting" moment, or when you got particularly angry or annoyed about something. Trust those instincts and start unraveling your thoughts about that issue by writing about it.... 

Questions or concerns? Email me!  Happy abstracting!


  1. Science Fiction begets Technology

    By Terye Stephens

    When I first saw Captain James T. Kirk flip open a communicator and call his spaceship from a faraway world, I was fascinated. The technology to hold a personal cordless hand communicator didn’t exist yet. Now my 12-year-old daughter has her own cell phone more complex than Jim Kirk could have asked for. Before the submarine, there was an idea of an underwater vessel in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. C. J. Cherryh imagined a human settlement on a faraway world constructed of white domes that would resist the elements and provide comfort and safety to people living in a harsh environment with a thin atmosphere. We have the ability to build these science-fiction communities today, nearly anywhere in the world. Monolithic dome construction is comparable to wood-frame construction in building costs and land requirements, but far out performs the competition in natural insulation, energy efficiency and survivability.

    Science Fiction has brought us ideas that have led to faster travel, better communications, greater knowledge of our universe, and a diverse array of choices in how we live. Now it is time to use that knowledge to increase our sustainability, reduce our carbon food print, and make smarter choices about the way we live before our modern utopia is lost.

    1. Roddenberry, Gene, “Star Trek”, NBC Television 1966-1969.
      Verne, Jules, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, 1870.
      C. J. Cherryh, Foreigner: (10th Anniversary Edition), DAW 2004.
      Monolithic Dome Institute, 2011. www.Monolithic.com

  2. Jen Smith
    418 Proposal
    Professors Kevin Maier and Sarah Ray

    In 1972, motivated largely by the discovery of oil in Prudhoe Bay, the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act was created by the U.S. government. This act divided lands and created corporations, which designated certain Native tribes to these specific institutions. Several repercussions were to follow; namely, “native Alaskans (were made to) relinquish title and rights to hunting and fishing--the very rights that were guaranteed under the Alaska Statehood Act” (Management History: From Statehood to Present). In response, the State of Alaska created the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act of 1980, which created national parks and devoted around 60% of Alaska to federal lands, further dividing the ownership titles between the State of Alaska and the federal government. Through centuries of these changing land ownership and fluctuating federal and state laws, Alaska Natives have been some of the most regulated peoples in history.

    In extension, also included in ANCSA was the policy of blood quantum. An archaic implementation imposed upon indigenous tribes through westward settlement, blood quantum is essentially a tool of measuring and documenting indigenous blood to determine eligibility for federal benefits. For Native Alaskans, blood quantum determined eligibility for holding shares in corporations, which are said to manage estates and maintain the general behalf of its shareholders. According to the stipulations laid out in the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, a “Native” is defined as someone who has ¼ degree of Indian blood or more. Through this narrow definition, one is then qualified or unqualified to participate in subsistence practices or is considered eligible for private land ownership. Through Foucault’s notions of biopolitics as a “power inscribed in policies and interventions governing the population”, I would like to examine the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act and it’s incorporation of blood quantum as a tool of controlling population and the entitlements therein either given or denied by this policy.

    Foucault, Michel. The History of Sexuality.



  3. During the first class we were asked to write a quick proposal that mirrored the same call for papers as the symposium in June. I was completely caught off-guard and really had no clue what to write about. I stared at the paper for what seemed to be a lot longer than everybody else. I started thinking about what I would rather be doing to escape my uncomfortable circumstance and came up with deer hunting. This wasn’t quite what I wanted though, as hunting stories are far too frequent so I decided to instead be the deer I was pursuing.
    Initially I felt awkward as I rambled along about the customs and concerns of an older doe through her eyes. However, I began to play with the idea of a shifting climate that the doe herself perceived. In addition to a changing climate I also began to hint at the idea of over-harvesting of deer populations.
    I have thought about restructuring this concept to address a “rapidly changing North,” through the eyes of a wise doe. I plan to use a variety of scientific papers that address the rapid change (salmon populations, accelerated runoff, etc.), as well as the use of interviews from long-term Juneau residents who can illustrate the changes deer have been subject to. Examples of this would include things like the prevalence of coyotes and wolves over the last year or two, and their effect on deer populations. This paper will be a combination of both a scientific paper and a creative piece that would love some feedback because it is still a very fluid concept

  4. Sammy Becker
    ENGL 418
    Mock ASLE Proposal
    Stories have long been told by those and embarking on adventures in the wild places of the North. Outdoor literature encompasses a variety of personal experiences of Northern exploration from Farley Mowat’s Never Cry Wolf, to Jonathan Waterman’s Where Mountains are Nameless. In my paper I want to explore the ways in which these adventure stories impact their readers. I want to attempt to answer the question of “what do we gain from the perspective of an outdoor enthusiast” in reference to the way in which Northern spaces are perceived, and the feelings that are evoked towards the spaces in which the author is traveling. Is the rhetoric of outdoor literature capable or even responsible for evoking an environmental ethic in its readers?
    The North is a landscape of desire, and the rhetoric of Northern adventure plays a big role on the way in which the readers perceive this geographic location. The personal narrative of an outdoor adventurer is often focused on the struggles of their seemingly selfish wilderness pursuit, yet often carries with it a strong advocacy for the necessity of these wild places. I want to explore if/how the lens of an outdoor enthusiast is able to address issues of climate change, resource extraction, or even the concept of wilderness. I want to explore the role that outdoor adventure writing plays in the construction of a place, and whether or not it can help develop a wilderness focused ethic through a human centered lens.

  5. Kahle Ess

    The first Alaskan reality show premiered in 1959 and was simply titled “The Alaskans”. Over the course of the last fifty years, a multitude of television series and films have been filmed in the state of Alaska that showcase its rugged outdoors and extreme people living here. Channels promoting the “outdoor” experience of life in northern latitudes include ABC, CBS, the Discovery Channel, the History Channel, the National Geographic Channel, the Sportsman Channel, and TLC. Through the looking glass of “real life” Alaskans, or those placed in the setting for the show’s duration, television watchers of all ages watch these shows for their taste of true north tribulations. A plethora of shows filmed around the state have premiered in the last decade and ideas surrounding the “Last Frontier” have become skewed. While searching for reality in a state full of culture and opportunity what has been overlooked and lost? The state of Alaska has served as the national idea of the “Last Frontier” since John Muir, but as millions of people view shows that highlight resource extraction statewide can those ideas still remain intact? It seems that the growing interest of Alaska television series and films will continue as long as there something the viewers have yet to see. With the inside perspective of Ivan Kilcher who appears in “Alaska: The Last Frontier”, I plan to highlight the battling ideas that support and negate the film industry surrounding Alaska and answer the questions surrounding the media’s role in Alaska today.

  6. Kristie LivingstonMarch 26, 2012 at 11:39 AM

    For this mock conference, I would like to create a “food map” using GIS to depict where our food comes from and what it takes to get to using technology, design, qualitative and quantitative research. I will randomly choose a variety of items from my own kitchen and research how it was transported to Juneau. I will then estimate the cost of each product throughout the stages of its life cycle, that is, from farm to shelf, including any economic externalities that may have resulted from any part of the life cycle. Through this visual representation of where our food comes from and analysis of the energy it takes to get it to us I intend to inspire interest in the process behind the products we consume everyday.

    The problems facing society today are incredibly complex, creating a sense of powerlessness and overwhelm in the public, which results in apathy and undermines change. Most agree on the issues at hand, such as the rise in health problems, excessive pollution, dependence on nonrenewable energy, overexploitation of resources, and waste management, but do not agree on what to do about them. What to change and how to change it is unclear and is further complicated by a general public lack of knowledge. This environment has created an “out of sight out of mind” consumer mentality in America that inhibits informed decision-making at the individual scale. I believe we must start with something we all have a common interest in and that is the food we consume. By beginning with an issue that affects us all, and incorporating as many knowledge resources we have we can solve the problems of today.

  7. LaTia Jackson

    The topics that most interests me deal with issues that the Eskimos in the North are dealing with now. It is because I am from that area and I am in a position to shed light or at least bring awareness. It is important to me that I write from my Alaskan Native perspective. I was moved by reading Ernestine Hayes stories and poems. She was a witness to many and I liked how honest she was in her writing. I know that Alcoholism is one major issue in the villages. I think that it would be a good thing to read Alaskan Native literary work, newspaper articles and statistics/impacts of alcoholism.
    I feel strongly about this topic. Yesterday, I overheard a group of people calling each other ‘drunk natives’. I was a little taken aback by their readiness to accept that stereotype. There is a reason and history as to why Alaskan Natives are known as ‘drunk natives’. I understand that it hard to successfully be a part of society when Alaska Native identity and cultural values clash with the American dream. It seems to me that the most important value in a Capitalistic society is making money. It would be interesting to tie all of these aspects together in one paper. The main focus would be Alaskan Native literary work in relation to alcoholism.

  8. The forests of Southeast Alaska have long provided animals and humans with a thriving habitat. One important member of this habitat is the Yellow Cedar. This tree is has importance to not only the surrounding forests, but to the people that settled them. Unfortunately, this vital tree has been declining, leading to concern about its effect on the ecosystem as well as well as impacting local cultural traditions. In my paper, I will discuss the causes of the decline and the impacts it has on the environment and the Tlingit culture.

  9. Landscape is changing everyday by human and natural causes. Therefore we often forget what it looked like once we get used to the changes. Photographics are useful tool to remember what it looked like, and compare how it is changed over time. In addition, it also tells stories and history. Since miners came to Juneau in 1880, landscapes in Juneau has dramatically changed by development, immigration, mining, local businesses, tourism industory, and natural causes. In this mock conferences, I would like to present how landscapes and culture in Juneau have changed over time comparing old and new photographs. To do so, I will collect old photographs which show Juneau's old landscape, history, building, or cultural symbols, then I will take pictures at exact the same spots with the same angle. I am planning on presenting 5 to 10 examples of landscape changes in Juneau with background stories and history.

  10. Is it possible for human society to live symbiotically within Nature? We once did, living in small subsistence-based communities before the industrial, or even agricultural, revolution. Though we have gained much through the inexorable march of progress that seems inherent to humankind, what have we lost in the process?

    Subsistence has been replaced with a system of subversion and control. Our global culture is highly consumption-based and takes infinite expansion for granted, a culture which is incompatible with the truth of the Earth as a finite resource. Not only does it have a flippant disregard for sustainable consumption and mediated waste products, but it also engages in rampant speciesism and relegates whole ecosystems to the realm of commodity. In order to fit human society back into the framework of Nature, a complete overhaul of our economic and government systems needs to take place. In order to live within Nature, we must remove ourselves as its ruler.

    This paper will explore one of the more promising answers to this problem by examining the anarchistic tendencies of sustainable cultures such as those within the Arctic Circle and in Madagascar. Far from living in chaos, these cultures model themselves after the anarchist structures of nature to achieve balance with their environment. This paper will also cover some of the different factions of anarchism in search for a model that will offer a greater chance of success in the current technology-infused global network. Through the process of expounding what it means to be truly without ruler, it will offer the possibility that anarchism might, in fact, be the natural state of human society.

  11. There is an increasing awareness of where food comes from and at what cost. The topic is addressed in many ways; eat local, reduce your carbon footprint, sustainability, subsistence. The cost of food in Alaska is closely tied to the price of fuel on more than one level. Higher fuel prices equate to higher production prices. The cost of fuel comes into play again as most of our fresh produce and consumable goods are shipped by air or barge from the lower forty-eight states. Even our fuel is imported and many villages are powered by diesel generators. Sticker-shock in the grocery store is magnified by distance. The more remote the village the higher the cost.
    Before contact with the Western world Alaskan Natives lived off the land and sea. The first settlers brought with them staples and specialty imports from down south. With the increase in population and specialization of economic activity Alaskans have long surpassed their ability to live without daily shipments of food from outside the state. The high cost of living is one of the principle reasons for people moving out of the state.
    How can we as residents of Alaska with jobs, families, and busy schedules reduce our dependence on high-priced imported food? What foods are available for subsistence harvesting? Which foods are abundant enough to support a sustained harvest for a larger community? How does subsistence harvest interact with commercial harvest? What are the trends in local food movements in Alaska? I will attempt to answer some of these questions while I investigate the adapting food culture of the changing north.

  12. In Dostoevsky’s Notes from the Underground the protagonist often laments the capacity of his consciousness as he finds it constrictive, almost oppressive. The Underground man is pushed into a nihilistic state by his consciousness yet still resents the man-of-action, whom he deems stupid, though is not limited by his consciousness but by the empirical world. Nietzsche looks back in his On the Genealogy of Morals to the early man-of-action for his model of what made right/good and even in his assessment of the creation of morality he expressed that the Übermensch required intellect to live beautifully. Henry David Thoreau and other early naturalist believed that one should live simply, yet even in Walden there is a hierarchical value placed on the collection of intellect. Finally we come to Aldo Leopold’s Sand County Almanac in which the author muses over the scope and pervasiveness of scientific inquiry and seems to desire a simple life, that is an existence were our combined social “sacrifices” (an individual’s pursuit of knowledge for the social) have not altered the landscape or Homo sapiens ecological niche. From the post-colonial theorists rejection of Hegel’s teleology we can note that the social pursuit of knowledge, more specifically science, does not essentially benefit humanity as a whole and the aforementioned individual’s sacrifice may be interpreted as a desire for advantages. In light of these reinterpretations of complacent human interaction, we must now ask, whether it is absurd or not, has the pursuit of knowledge been the “right” choice? Should we continue the individual sacrifices for the pursuit of knowledge knowing that it may, and most likely will, not benefit humanity as a whole?

    (I may have slipped into a discussion of slave morality on accident, the problem becomes if we deny slave morality and choose one more individual the pursuit of science works for the individual as they would pursue something that offered a direct and tangible, that is based on facticity, advantage. This individualism does not work with Nietzsche’s Übermensch as he claimed those with the will-to-power did not seek advantage from reflective consciousness…. Again more problems.)

    1. At what cost and to what benefit did we move away from some pre-conscious ecological state of humanity towards “enlightenment?”

      forgot this at the end of the abstract

  13. How are women living in Alaska affected by the level of femininity placed on them by others, both outside the state and within it? In this paper I will discuss this question by examining literature, film and other media written by, created by and involving women who live in Alaska and determine how the concepts of nature as a social construct, colonialism and wilderness as a reflection of masculinity affect the ideas about women living in “wild northern” places.

    I would like to look at film maker Ellen Frankenstein, authors Val Plumwood, Margaret Murie, and Susan Kollin, and popular media presences like Sarah Palin to evaluate the level of femininity that is placed on being a woman in Alaska. I am not aware of too many other women from Alaska besides Palin who has a heavy impact on the media, so research will be required to see if other, possibly non-political women, have been seen as “an Alaskan woman”. . I would also like to include interviews from Ellen Frankenstein and Terry Tempest Williams who I was able to personally speak on their various visits to UAS over the years. The use of these interviews will depend on the level to which they apply to the topic of this paper. I plan to draw from past research I have done for similar papers and plan to use the text and influence of participants in the ASLE conference for sources as well to further tie this paper to the class and conference.

  14. Brittney Seavey
    Mock ASLE proposal

    To most people, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is known as a barren wasteland that happens to be filled with our seemingly most valuable resource, oil. But as Arctic Refuge a Circle of Testimony compiled by Hank Lentfer and Carolyn Servid points out, it is actually much more than that. This book includes testimonies by president Jimmy Carter, Terry Tempest Williams, Bill McKibben, various wildlife biologists as well as Alaskan Natives who all point out that the Arctic is not a place to be overlooked or taken lightly when speaking about extraction without full consideration of the very real consequences that will occur to the land, and animals as well as people who inhabit it. Although all of the testimonies are from different walks of life, they all speak of very tangible issues that are impossible to overlook. “But our fight is not just for the caribou. It’s for the whole ecosystem of the Gwich’in country, which covers northeast Alaska, the northern part of the Yukon Territory, and the McKenzie Delta” (James).
    In my presentation, I will highlight the testimonies of the book and debunk the myths that linger around the thought of oil extraction in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. My goal for this presentation is to educate myself and others as much as possible so that when asked why we fight against drilling ANWR, we have solid answers with no room for question.