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Doctoral Dissertation Announcement
Candidate: Melinda Marie Moustakis
Doctor of Philosophy
Title: The Last Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show
Jaimy Gordon, D.A., Chair
Steve Feffer, Ph.D.
Stuart Dybek, M.F.A.
Angela Moe, Ph.D.
Date: Wednesday, March 17, 2010 Noon - 2:00 p.m.
2033 Brown Hall
This dissertation, a collection of short stories, explores the landscape of South-Central Alaska. Alaska, as “The Last Frontier,” is often written about from the point of view of adventurous men seeking fortune and/or adventure. Jack London's novels and Robert Service's poems and John Muir's travel writing are three well-known examples of this viewpoint of Alaska. The title refers to The Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show in Ketchikan, Alaska, that is a tourist attraction. The show exhibits various feats of strength such as tree climbing and log rolling, but, instead of focusing on those that fit the lumberjack type, these stories focus on the feats of strength and the survival of women and children in the wilderness. The women and children in this landscape are not tourists and live in places such as Anchorage, Point MacKenzie and Seward, Alaska. They live in houses and homesteads and near oceans and rivers.
These stories explore the complex definitions of wilderness or frontier. Survival is a common theme running through the collection—surviving in the wilderness, surviving circumstance and violence. The term “wilderness” is further complicated through the exploration of point of view as there are stories written in first person plural and second person point of view.