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Home on the Range


Hamilton’s Adirondack Program, set to begin in fall 2015, has a home.  The program will be based at The Mountain House in Keene, N.Y., in the heart of the High Peaks, near a popular trailhead for Hurricane Mountain, as well as Big Crow and Little Crow.

The new program, modeled after Hamilton’s academic programs in New York City and Washington, D.C., is a semester-long learning experience that combines rigorous academic study with the skills and understanding gained through field experience in the Adirondack Park with local organizations and in wilderness contexts. The focus is on local, interdisciplinary environmental issues with global implications. 

Visiting Assistant Professor of English and Creative Writing Janelle Schwartz ’97 has been named general director for the Academic Program in the Adirondacks.  Schwartz explained, "My motivation and goal for creating this program is in large part due to its potential to create a sustainable community between Hamilton and what we often call our 'backyard resource':  The Adirondack Park. Just as our students will live and learn actively within a rural, wilderness landscape," she said, "they will work to contribute to the well-being of the local peoples, plants, animals and lands that make up this unique region."

The Mountain House, originally built in 1890, takes advantage of the Park's spectacular mountain views. It has been a favorite food and lodging locale for generations, and has recently undergone a thorough and thoughtful renovation to preserve the property's long history for the 21st century.

The program’s home site is centrally located to both everyday amenities and field component resources. The site is about 14 miles from Lake Placid and 20 miles from both the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) and the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Regional Headquarters. The Mountain House also boasts quick access to a variety of outdoor leadership opportunities and recreational activities, such as hiking, ice and rock climbing, cross country and downhill skiing, boating and fly fishing.

The property is approximately 35 acres and includes plenty of green space and open porches, a trout stream (Gulf Brook), wireless Internet access, and three main structures in which students will live, eat and study.

After graduating from Hamilton, program general director Janelle Schwartz lived in Alaska and then taught English and environmental studies at Loyola University, New Orleans.  She returned to Hamilton in 2011 to teach comparative literature, English and environmental studies. Schwartz has published articles, essays and blogs on literature and ecology, cabinets of curiosity and pedagogy.

She is also the author of Worm Work: Recasting Romanticism (2012, University of Minnesota Press), which focuses on the intersection of invertebrate zoology during the 18th and 19th centuries with the poetry and prose of Romanticism. Schwartz's next research project involves literary polar landscapes, and she is currently working on her first travel narrative, Land and Sky and Chocolate Milk, which in part examines the relationship between her solitary long-distance running, the contemplative moment, and land use in the Adirondack Park.

Professor of English Onno Oerlemans will serve as the program’s 2015 faculty-in-residence, leading the program Wilderness, Culture, Science: Reading the Adirondacks.  He has published articles on the form and function of lyric in Whitman, Milton and Wordsworth, on literary theory and Henry James, and on animal rights and taxonomy in romanticism.

Oerlemans’ book Romanticism and the Materiality of Nature (University of Toronto Press, 2002) examines the many ways in which romantic-period authors explore and represent the physical presence of the natural world. He has recently published articles on the representation of animals in Coetzee and Gowdy, the romantic origins of environmentalism, and architecture in romantic period writing. Oerlemans is currently writing a book about the representation of animals in the history of poetry.

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