What Happens When Women Hear the Call of the Wild?

“When Everything Beyond the Walls Is Wild: Being a Woman Outdoors in America” with poet and award winning author Lilace Mellin Guignard
Tuesday, October 8, 2019
5 p.m.
Belk Library and Information Commons, Room 421

This event is free and open to the public.

In “When Everything Beyond the Walls Is Wild,” Lilace Mellin Guignard draws from emblematic moments and relationships in her own life to explore issues of gender, recreation and environmental conservation. Born into a suburban family, Guignard wanted to get up close and personal with iconic American landscapes, but social pressures and cautionary tales told her that these spaces were not meant for her as a woman.

“A must-read for every girl and woman who has ever dared to combat the gendered privilege of men going ‘into the wild, ’” said Leslie Heywood, editor of Third Wave Agenda: Being Feminist, Doing Feminism and author of” Pretty Good for a Girl.” 

Reflecting on the ways our culture socializes women to remain indoors, Guignard shares her own struggles with finding her place outdoors. Refusing to stay indoors and “safe,” Guignard drove cross-country with her dog, worked as a river guide and set out to climb Mount Whitney. She recounts navigating outdoor interactions with male friends and strangers that range from wonderful to awkward to frightening. Now that she is settled with her own family, Guignard writes about how it is still more difficult for women than men to prioritize outdoor recreation time. These stories expose how cultural messages about women shape their experiences and interactions when backpacking, paddling, rock climbing and bicycling. They broaden readers’ notions of what adventure is, what places are considered wild and worth our care, and what types of people enjoy the outdoors.

Drawing upon the art of the memoir—and informed by analysis from women’s studies and ecological literature—Guignard makes an impassioned case for why women and marginalized members of society should have the opportunity to experience nature. The self-reliance and connection with the natural world that outdoor recreation fosters are qualities we all need in order to do the work required by the environmental challenges ahead.

Lilace Mellin Guignard is an award-winning poet; her published collection is titled “Young at the Time of Letting Go,” her work has appeared in Poetry magazine, and she wrote “A Field Guide to the Norton Book of Nature Writing.” She is an instructor of creative writing, outdoor recreation leadership and women’s studies at Mansfield University. She resides in Wellsboro, Pennsylvania.

This event is sponsored by the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies and the Department of Sustainable Development.


About the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies
The Department of Interdisciplinary Studies offers degrees in three program areas: global studies; gender, women’s and sexuality studies; and interdisciplinary studies. The department is also home to Watauga Residential College, an interdisciplinary, alternative general education program. The department promotes creative and imaginative engagement through a cross-disciplinary investigation of complex systems and problems. Learn more at https://interdisciplinary.appstate.edu

About the Goodnight Family Department of Sustainable Development
One of seven departments housed in the College of Fine and Applied Arts, the Goodnight Family Department of Sustainable Development at Appalachian State University prepares students to thoughtfully analyze human development while focusing on the applied practice of pursuing transformative, community-driven development and social change. It offers a Bachelor of Science degree in sustainable development with concentrations in agroecology and sustainable agriculture; community, regional and global development; and environmental studies; as well as a Bachelor of Arts and minor in sustainable development. Learn more at https://sd.appstate.edu

“When Everything Beyond the Walls Is Wild: Being a Woman Outdoors in America” by Lilace Mellin Guignard - Book jacket cover image, photo submitted.
Published: Sep 19, 2019 11:40am