Penn State

Rachel Smith - associate professor of communication arts and sciences, Penn State University Park

Book Title: Encounters with the Archdruid

Author: John McPhee

Book Description:

I remember being drawn into this book from the premise: nonfiction author John McPhee took three adventures, including white water rafting, with two people who represented completely different perspectives about the environment. The stories in this book chronicle rich, passionate debates in the presence of the debates’ topics: the natural world itself. This book inspired me to think critically, to observe carefully, to question everything, to remain humble, and to stay fully engaged in practice. In addition, beyond simply chronicling the debate, McPhee takes readers along through the dramatic twists and turns as the three men together try to make it through their adventures, such as getting down the rapids in one piece. (It is fun to read!) Over the years I have found myself in different roles: as a vocal theorist, as the archivist of opinions, and as the instigator of risk-taking "moments." At the end of the day, as a scholar, I hope to leave behind a few essays that engage readers, encouraging them to argue, consider, and challenge themselves and the points of view along the way—while always leaving them to wonder what will happen next.


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