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2018 John Muir Symposium

"The Practical John Muir"

University of the Pacific, Stockton, CA,
March 23-24, 2018

University of the Pacific's John Muir Center will host its ninth conference focused on John Muir at the Stockton campus of University of the Pacific on March 23 - 24, 2018. - 14 min.

Radio Interview - University Of The Pacific Honors 150th Anniversary Of John Muir's First Visit To California - Capital Public Radio, "Insight" (March 7, 2018). Professors Bill Swagerty and Mike Wurtz discuss Muir's impact on California's environmental movement and what's expected at this year's symposium. The 2018 John Muir Symposium will be held on March 23-24, 2018. This March marks the 150th anniversary of John Muir's travels to California and pioneering trip in Yosemite. The outdoorsman and author is considered by many to be a pioneer of the environmental movement in the Golden State. The University of the Pacific in Stockton holds a massive collection of Muir's letters, journals, drawings and photographs from his time in California. This month, they're opening the collection the public and hosting a trip to Yosemite that follows in Muir's footsteps.

Questions? Email Dr. Bill Swagerty or Professor Mike Wurtz


Friday March 23 -- All day field trip to Yosemite National Park Leave by motor coach from the University of the Pacific at 8 a.m.
Muir enthusiast and reenactor Frank Helling will discuss the history, geology, and natural history of the Central Valley, Sierra Nevada, and Yosemite. Once in Yosemite, "John Muir" will lead us on a walk to the base of Yosemite Falls and tell stories of his adventures in the Valley. Lunch included. Return to Pacific around 5:30 p.m.

Friday evening 5:30 p.m. - 7 p.m. -- Welcoming Reception in the University Library, home of the John Muir Papers. Drinks and hors d'oeuvres. Welcome by Pacific Provost Pallavicini and University Librarian Somerville
Demonstration of virtual Hetch Hetchy game.

Saturday, March 24 - Symposium the University of the Pacific's Grace Covell Hall
Check-in begins at 8 a.m. with coffee and scones. Presentations by Robert Hanna, Matt Blessing, Peter and Donna Thomas, Lee Stetson, Bob Hare, Dean King and Langdon Moss, Bill Youngs, and student scholars of Muir. Lunch included. Symposium ends at 5 p.m.

Detailed Program

The Practical John Muir
March 23-24, 2018

On the 150th anniversary of Muir's arrival in California, University of the Pacific will host a symposium exploring Muir's life and legacy as advocate of the practical. Inventor, explorer, mountaineer, orchardist, nut rancher, correspondent, lecturer, and family-man-Muir lived a fascinating life beyond his better-known environmental activism and philosophical writings.

Gathering in Stockton, Muir scholars and guests will explore aspects of this other side of Muir, following his footsteps on a day-trip to Yosemite on March 23 and convening in Grace Covell Hall on the 24th for papers, presentations and discussion.

John Muir Symposium Grace Covell Hall at University of the Pacific

Saturday, March 24, 2018

8 a.m. Registration Check-in. Coffee and Scones.

8:30 a.m. Welcome from University of the Pacific President Eibeck

9 a.m. Robert Hanna: The Many Sides of John Muir. Muir's great-great-grandson will take us through a very up-close and personal look at Muir's life as can only be told by his family.

9:45 a.m. Matt Blessing: "The Inventions, though of Little Importance, Opened All Doors for Me" Wisconsin Historical Society State Archivist will offer a visual presentation of John Muir's wizardry wooden contraptions - some of which dazzled visitors at the 1860 Wisconsin State Fair.

10:30 a.m. Break

10:45 a.m. Peter and Donna Thomas: A Month in Yosemite for Only About Three Dollars - The Story of John Muir's First Trip to Yosemite in 1868. The Thomases, known for their fine press and artist's books will share a close look at Muir's first year in California and how they discovered the story.

11:30 a.m. Lunch/Keynote Lee Stetson:: John Muir Live. World-renowned Muir reenactor, Stetson will take us back in time to meet Muir.

1 p.m. Bob Hare: Following John Muir into Wild Yosemite: Up the Merced and Down the Tuolumne. Hare, a retired curator/ranger/biologist will saunter with Muir up the Merced Canyon and down the Tuolumne Canyon where he has rephotographed many of Muir's drawings from Muir's 1873 and 1895 trips to those areas and breaking the code on many of his personal names for landscape features.

1:45 p.m. Dean King and Langdon Moss: An Ecstasy of Water & Ice. Award-winning author King and writer Moss will focus on Muir and his intimate link to the giver and shaper of life: water.

2:30 p.m. Break

2:45 p.m. Student Presentations

  • Sara Segantin, University of Trieste: THE RANGE OF LIFE from Words to Steps: Sauntering with Muir through Creeks & Crags from Yosemite to the Dolomites 
  • University of the Pacific Fall 2017 Media X students: Legacy is a short film demonstrating how Muir has touched many lives.
  • Students from Dr. Swagerty's: John Muir's World: The Origins of the Conservation Movement will offer a poster session of their research for the class: Fruit, Nuts, and Vegetables produced on the Strentzel-Muir Ranch; Inventions of John Muir; John Muir Place Names; Public Lands Set Aside through the Influence of John Muir.  

4 p.m. Bill Youngs: "I Should Like to Invent Useful Machinery:" John Muir, Henry David Thoreau, and Alexander von Humboldt - Wilderness Appreciation and Practical Mechanics. Eastern Washington University Professor of History, Dr. Youngs will explore Muir's "practical mechanics" and sum up the day's discussion.



Past Conferences


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