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When Everything Beyond the Walls Is Wild: Being a Woman Outdoors in America (The Seventh Generation: Survival, Sustainability, Sustenance in a New Nature) (Paperback)
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In When Everything Beyond the Walls Is Wild, Lilace Mellin Guignard draws from emblematic moments and relationships in her own life to explore issues of gender, recreation, and environmental conservation. Born into a suburban family, Guignard wanted to get up close and personal with iconic American landscapes, but social pressures and cautionary tales told her that these spaces were not meant for her as a woman.
Reflecting on the ways our culture socializes women to remain indoors, Guignard shares her own struggles with finding her place outdoors. Refusing to stay indoors and “safe,” Guignard drove cross-country with her dog, worked as a river guide, and set out to climb Mount Whitney. She recounts navigating outdoor interactions with male friends and strangers that range from wonderful to awkward to frightening. Now that she is settled with her own family, Guignard writes about how it is still more difficult for women than men to prioritize outdoor recreation time. These stories expose how cultural messages about women shape their experiences and interactions when backpacking, paddling, rock climbing, and bicycling. They broaden readers’ notions of what adventure is, what places are considered wild and worth our care, and what types of people enjoy the outdoors.
Drawing upon the art of the memoir—and informed by analysis from women’s studies and ecological literature—Guignard makes an impassioned case for why women and marginalized members of society should have the opportunity to experience nature. The self-reliance and connection with the natural world that outdoor recreation fosters are qualities we all need in order to do the work required by the environmental challenges ahead.
About the Author
LILACE MELLIN GUIGNARD is an award-winning poet; her published collection is titled Young at the Time of Letting Go, her work has appeared in Poetry magazine, and she wrote A Field Guide to the Norton Book of Nature Writing. She is an instructor of creative writing, outdoor recreation leadership, and women’s studies at Mansfield University. She resides in Wellsboro, Pennsylvania.
“Lilace Mellin Guignard's new book on women's experience of wilderness (and wildness) is a refreshing combination of personal experience and feminist research, one that tells a compelling story while simultaneously grounding that story in the context of larger local and global issues. A compelling new take on women's environmental literature and experience, it is a must-read for every girl and woman who has ever dared to combat the gendered privilege of men going ‘into the wild’ and crafting that experience as a new, interrelational paradigm that presents new models for prosociality and the importance of everyone's having a personal relationship with wildness, outdoor spaces, and the biosphere.”—Leslie Heywood, editor of Third Wave Agenda: Being Feminist, Doing Feminism, and The Women's Movement Today: An Encyclopedia of Third Wave Feminism
— Leslie Heywood
“An intimate journey through wildernesses of place and self with a savvy guide. Anyone who wants to know America’s wild beauty from the eyes of a woman who loves it should read this book.”—Sheryl St. Germain, author of The Small Door of Your Death
— Sheryl St. Germain
“This feast of a book by Lilace Mellin Guignard vividly relates her adventures from a lifelong love-affair with wildness and climbing and includes powerful, extended reflections on gender and race and on changing attitudes toward women’s roles in mountaineering. . . . Honest and generous, occasionally stern but always high-spirited, Guignard is the kind of guide one wants to follow into bracing terrain.”—John Elder, author of Reading the Mountainsof Home and The Frog Run
— John Elder
"Her personal insight, paired with a multitude of historical references, give the reader a complete and captivating look into what it feels like to be a female active in the environment... By incorporating her personal expeditions in nature, her love life, and her family life, she simultaneously creates a comfortable and visual space for her audience to learn about being a woman in the outdoors of America."—Journal of the Botanical Research Institute of Texas
— Keely Smith
"...many women will find their own enjoyment of hiking, rafting, cycling, and rock climbing reflected in this book."—Choice
— H. Corbett
When Everything Beyond treads the established path deeper, illuminating essential scholarship through artful and witty memoir. Following Guignard’s firm foot-steps, readers get a grounded understanding of the landscape American women enter when they seek adventure...and emerge better equipped to navigate complex questions about who benefits from American wilderness, and how.”—ISLE: Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment