Imagining Wild America

John Knott
Sheds light on notions of wilderness as reflected in the works of American authors from Audubon to Mary Oliver


At a time when the idea of wilderness is being challenged by both politicians and intellectuals, Imagining Wild America examines writing about wilderness and wildness and makes a case for its continuing value. The book focuses on works by John James Audubon, Henry David Thoreau, John Muir, Edward Abbey, Wendell Berry, and Mary Oliver, as each writer illustrates different stages and dimensions of the American fascination with wild nature. John Knott traces the emergence of a visionary tradition that embraces values consciously understood to be ahistorical, showing that these writers, while recognizing the claims of history and the interdependence of nature and culture, also understand and attempt to represent wild nature as something different, other.

A contribution to the growing literature of eco-criticism, the book is a response to and critique of recent arguments about the constructed nature of wilderness. Imagining Wild America demonstrates the richness and continuing importance of the idea of wilderness, and its attraction for American writers.

John R. Knott is Professor of English, University of Michigan. His previous books include The Huron River: Voices from the Watershed, coedited with Keith Taylor.

Praise / Awards

  • "John Knott's discussion of wilderness in American literature offers an impressive and refreshing alternative to the controversy between deconstructors and advocates. He sees 'wilderness' as just one important term among several---along with 'wildness' and 'primitivism'---in a broader narrative of border-crossings and heightened awareness. Knott is also a wonderful close reader, with a gift for showing how apparent contradictions in authors' work can reveal their questing integrity along unmapped boundaries."
    ---John Elder, Author of Reading the Mountains of Home
  • "[Imagining Wild America] is a superb contribution to the growing literature of ecocriticism and is an excellent response to and critique of recent argiments about the constructed nature of wilderness."
    --The Compendium Newsletter
  • Winner: University of Michigan's 2004 University of Michigan Press Book Award

Look Inside

Copyright © 2002, University of Michigan. All rights reserved.

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 256pp.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Hardcover
  • 2002
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-09806-4

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  • $99.95 U.S.

  • Paper
  • 2002
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-06806-7

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  • $29.95 U.S.

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