Kristin J. JacobsonOct 8, 2020
The American Adrenaline Narrative
University of Georgia Press 2020
Kristin J. Jacobson In her new book, The American Adrenaline Narrative (University of Georgia Press), Kristin Jacobson considers the nature of perilous outdoor adventure tales, their gendered biases, and how they simultaneously promote and hinder ecological sustainability.
To explore these themes, Jacobson defines and compares adrenaline narratives by a range of American authors published after the first Earth Day in 1970, a time frame selected as a watershed moment for the contemporary American environmental movement. The forty-plus years since that day also mark the rise in the popularity and marketing of many things as "extreme," including sports, jobs, travel, beverages, gum, makeovers, laundry detergent, and even the environmental movement itself.
Jacobson maps the American eco-imagination via adrenaline narratives, surveying a range of popular and lesser-known primary texts by American authors, including best-sellers such as Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air and Aron Ralston's Between a Rock and a Hard Place. She also covers lesser-known novels as well as stories found in all types of media ranging from magazines, feature-length and short films, television shows, amateur videos, social media posts, advertising, and blogs.
Jacobson argues for recognizing adrenaline narratives as a distinctive genre because, unlike traditional nature, travel, and sports writing, adrenaline narratives sustain heightened risk or the element of the "extreme" within a natural setting. Additionally, these narratives provide important insight into the American environmental imagination's connection to masculinity and adventure––knowledge that helps us grasp the current climate crisis and see how narrative understanding provides a needed intervention.
Kristin Jacobson is a professor of American literature, American Studies, and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies at Stockton University in New Jersey. She completed her Ph.D. at Penn State, her M.A. at the University of Colorado-Boulder, and her B.A. at Carthage College in Kenosha, WI.
Carrie Lynn Evans is a PhD student at Université Laval in Quebec City.