Inventing a Language of Wilderness: A Cultural Study of Yosemite and Surrounding Areas

Jessica Pizzagoni : Geography

Mentor: Proffesor Paul Groth

John Muir once stated, “Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.” California's National Parks, renowned for their beauty and history, draw visitors from around the world and reflect John Muir’s sentiment. Yet, each person has their own ideas and perceptions about the parks and their personal definitions of wilderness. Can Bourdieu's "cultural capital", or preferences associated with class differences, help explain these distinctions? With the use of ethnographic interviews, Jessica will connect how people visit these parks with their individual perceptions of nature. Her hope is to contribute to a deeper understanding of the cultural, economic and historical implications of the park system, as well as to efforts to preserve the parks.