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SSI1-132: Wild Things: Using Sources

Using Sources

Working in pairs, you will examine one set of sources below to consider how you would use them in addressing a research question about the concept of the "wild" or "wilderness" and the national parks. If the source is lengthy, scan the introduction and the conclusion. Consider the following questions as you evaluate the source:

  • What is the medium of your source?
  • In the context of the research question, how would you categorize the source? Popular or scholarly? How do you know?
  • Would you use it as a primary, secondary, or tertiary source? Why?
  • How do you think this source might help you explore the research topic? In other words, what would it contribute to your project?
Group 1

Henderson, David Graham. “The Possibility of Managing for Wilderness.” Environmental Ethics, vol. 31, no. 4, 2009, pp. 413–429.

Muir, John. "The Yosemite National Park.The Atlantic Monthly, vol. 84, no. 502, August 1899, pp. 145-153.

Group 2

Miller, Daegan. This Radical Land: a Natural History of American Dissent. U of Chicago Press, 2018. [Book provided in class]

Leopold, Aldo. "Wilderness as a Form of Land Use.Environmental Issues: Essential Primary Sources, edited by Brenda Wilmoth Lerner and K. Lee Lerner, Gale, 2006, pp. 428-432.

Group 3

Potts, Michael. "Wildness and Wilderness: Anti-Pastoralism and the Problematic Politics of Edward Abbey." Australian Literary Studies, vol. 30, no. 2, June 2015, pp. 105-116. (Click on the PDF icon to view the whole source).

Brinkley, Douglas."President Trump, Please Read ‘Desert Solitaire", The New York Times Book Review, 26 Jan 2016.

Group 4

Turner, James Morton. "Rethinking American Exceptionalism: Toward a Transnational History of National Parks, Wilderness, and Protected Areas," The Oxford Handbook of Environmental History, edited by Andrew C. Isenberg, Oxford University Press, 2014, pp. 282-308. [Book provided in class].

"Overcrowding at National Parks." C-SPAN, 28 July 2021.

Group 5

Fox, Stephen. "We Want No Straddlers." Wilderness, vol. 48, no. 167, Winter 1984, pp. 5-19. [Provided in class].

Robles, Raquel. "Just Visiting: A Working Concept of 'Wilderness' for Environmental Ethics and Ordinary Language." Stance: An International Undergraduate Philosophy Journal, vol. 9, 01 Apr. 2016, pp. 17-25. (Click on the PDF icon to view the whole source).

Group 6

Cahn, Robert, et al. American Photographers and the National Parks. Viking Press; National Park Foundation, 1981. [Book provided in class].

National Park Service. "Wilderness Character." Accessed 3 August 2017, 

Group 7

Ziser, Michael G. "Wilderness." American History Through Literature 1820-1870, edited by Janet Gabler-Hover and Robert Sattelmeyer, vol. 3, Charles Scribner's Sons, 2006, pp. 1251-1258.

Krakauer, Jon. Into the Wild. 1st Anchor books ed., Anchor Books, 1997.

Group 8

Netzley, Patricia D. "Environmental Politics," Environmental Literature: an encyclopedia of works, authors, and themes. ABC-CLIO, 1999, pp. 84-85. [Book provided in class]

Nash, Roderick. Wilderness and the American Mind. 4th ed., Yale UP, 2001. [Book provided in class].

Engaging with Sources

In this activity, we will examine a scholarly article to determine how a scholar critically engages with their sources.

Henderson, David Graham. “The Possibility of Managing for Wilderness.” Environmental Ethics, vol. 31, no. 4, 2009, pp. 413–429.


Read pages 413-416 (stop at “The Paradox of Management”) and the conclusion on page 429. Scan the footnotes throughout the article.

Working in your group, answer the following questions and be prepared to report to the class:

  1. Where is this article published?
  2. What is the author’s motive for this research? What is their research question?
  3. What is the author’s thesis or claim? Can you find a sentence that best encapsulates the author’s argument? 
  4. Look at the all the references to authors or publications on pages 413-416. How does the author use each of these sources to support their thesis?‚Äč
  5. Which academic fields does the author draw from for their research?