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Exploring the Literature of American Wilderness

Exploring the Literature of American Wilderness


3 Credits of English (GH and US); and 1.5 credits of RPTM 001 604 (GHW)

In the classroom and on the trail you will read, discuss, and write about how adventure and wilderness literature can give us a greater understanding of the relationship between humankind and the natural world.  This 4.5 credit experience-based program will also help you develop and improve your backcountry travel skills.  It will feature four days of hiking, covering three to eight miles a day, in the federally-protected wilderness area, Dolly Sods, in the West Virginia Highlands.  We will also spend a day rock-climbing at a nearby rock gym, and we will cap the semester with an adventurous and fun white-water weekend on the Youghiogheny and Cheat Rivers.


Class meets each Wednesday of the semester from 6:00 to 8:00.

Late February: Day of rock climbing and instruction on campus.

Late April:  4 days of backpacking and exploration in the Dolly Sods Wilderness.

Late April-Early May:  White-water weekend.  We leave on Saturday and raft the Lower Yough out of Ohiopyle, PA.  We stay overnight and have a cookout at the Trillium Lodge in Ohiopyle, and we leave the next morning to experience the Cheat River Narrows in West Virginia in duckies.


Robert Burkholder, associate professor of English at Penn State University Park, teaches courses on literature and the environment and is an experienced backcountry traveler.

Tyler Hyrancher
Bio will be available soon.

Fees and Registration

The class fee of $325 covers all group gear, including tents, stoves, food on the trail, and costs relating to rock climbing and rafting.

Expenses not covered
Students need to bring their own personal camping gear, such as a sleeping bag and pad, a backpack, and hiking boots. Efforts will be made to properly prepare everyone for a safe outdoors experience. Students are responsible for transportation to and from West Virginia.

For full-time Penn State students (with 12 or more credits)
Upon your acceptance, this course will be added to your semester schedule. No additional tuition payment is required. Your class fee will be charged to your student account.

For non-full-time students (part-time students or non–Penn State students)
You will receive a bill for payment, which includes tuition — based on your residence and semester status — and the information technology, activity, and class fees.

How to Register

Students should register on eLion, using schedule #842299. Enrollment is limited and on a first-come, first-served basis.

Students who register for ENGL 297C will also be registered for KINES 001. Students can take the English course as ENGL 496, which may help them fulfill some degree requirements. Those interested in doing so should contact the professor-in-charge at 814-865-7105.


Because of the nature of this program and the commitment we make to it, the registration deadline is January 11, 2012, or when the course fills. After this date, please call the program planner at 814-863-5144 for information about late-registration opportunities, if applicable.

Penn State Cancellations or Changes

You will be notified of any cancellations or changes. If some unforeseen event forces Penn State to cancel or postpone the program, you will receive a full refund of your registration fee; however, the University cannot be held responsible for any related costs, including cancellation fees assessed by airlines or travel agencies.


To cancel your enrollment, send a written notice to the conference planner by fax (814-863-5190) or email ( by January 11, 2012. Note: Do not use eLion; it will not remove you from the course, and you will be held responsible for all the fees. After this deadline, $50 will be deducted for administrative expenses. For refund eligibility, the postmark of the cancellation letter or the date stamp from the fax machine will be used as the date received by the registration office.


The University reserves the right to revise the schedule of tuition and charges without further notice. For more information on tuition, visit


Penn State encourages persons with disabilities to participate in its programs. If you anticipate needing special accommodations or have questions about the physical access provided, please contact the planner at 814-863-5144 before your participation.