Alaskan literature differs from other literature in one very important way: it is not composed by only those native to Alaska. Over the course of this semester, I noticed that while there was a large amount of literature written by those who live in Alaska, there was an equal amount written by visitors and strangers. I think Alaska is still viewed as unexplored land and that attracts people from all over, giving us a wide range of perspectives writing about the same thing. For example, Alaska’s natural resources and the aesthetic of the wilderness were common themes throughout the work we read this semester. It is a mutual acceptance among Alaskans that our survival is based on the whim of nature. Sheila Nickerson, John Straley, and William Cronon are all writers who explore the Alaskan wilderness in their writing.
Alaska is a hodge podge of people from different cultures. As most of us acknowledged in diversity posts, you need only flip through the restaurant portion of the phonebook to grasp how culturally diverse Alaska has become. I feel like Alaskan literature is a reflection of that diversity and it makes reading the literature that much more rewarding to an outsider to our culture. It helps them to grasp how different we are from the rest of the world. We are a unique group of people, with a unique pool of literature, and that should be recognized.
What I enjoyed most about this course is the common understanding that was displayed in the works we read. From gold panners to native Alaskans, there was this underlying theme of amazement and wonder for Alaska that was buried within each unique piece. Writers from all different backgrounds and cultures were using the same thread throughout their writing. I think it’s pretty amazing that so many people from such a wide background can look at the same thing from a thousand different angles and still walk away with the same understanding.