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University of Iowa News Release


March 5, 2010

UI Press book explores forest, inhabitants of U.S. Northeast

Nearly 30 million acres of forest stretch across New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. Within this broad area live roughly a million residents whose lives are intimately associated with the forest ecosystem and whose individual stories are closely linked to the region's cultural and environmental history.

The 14 essays in "Nature and Culture in the Northern Forest: Region, Heritage and Environment in the Rural Northeast," edited by Pavel Cenkl, explore the relationships among place, work and community in this complex landscape. Each of the four sections views through a different lens the interconnections between place and people.

The book, part of the American Land and Life Series, is now available from the University of Iowa Press.

The essayists in "Encounters" have their hiking boots on as they focus on personal encounters with flora and fauna of the region. The accounts in "Teaching and Learning" question our assumptions about education and scholarship by proposing collaborations between teachers and students in ways determined by the land itself.

The authors in "Rethinking Place" look at key figures in the forest's literary and cultural development to help readers consider the affiliations between place and citizenship.

In "Nature as Commodity" three essayists consider the ways that writers from the 19th and early 20th centuries thought about nature as a product and, thus, how their conclusions bear on the contemporary retailing of place.

Bill McKibben, the author of "Wandering Home," wrote, "How good to see sharp thinkers engaging the mysteries and possibilities of one of the world's most interesting and hopeful corners, the mountains and woods of the Northeast. This book will start many gears turning in your head!"

Cenkl is dean of academics and a professor of humanities and regional studies at Sterling College in Vermont. He is the author of "This Vast Book of Nature: Writing the Landscape of New Hampshire's White Mountains, 1784-1911," also published by the UI Press.

The American Land and Life Series is dedicated to the interdisciplinary study of North American cultural and natural regions. Since its establishment in 1990, it has featured two general kinds of books: those which focus scholarly attention on a neglected sector of the American scene and those which bring a critical perspective to bear on landscape through the exploration of personal experience. Landscape, as the three-dimensional record of human impact on the earth, is the unifying focus of the series.

The book is now available at bookstores or directly from the press, 800-621-2736 or Customers in the United Kingdom, Europe, the Middle East or Africa may order from Eurospan Group at It is also available as a pdf e-book:

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STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS: Allison Means, UI Press, Winston Barclay, University News Services, 319-430-1013,