Seeger Chapel steeple against an orange sunset

Milligan to host book release for Dahlman’s ‘A Familiar Wilderness’

MILLIGAN COLLEGE, Tenn. (March 27, 2019) — S. J. ‘Jim’ Dahlman, professor of communications and humanities at Milligan, recently published “A Familiar Wilderness,” a nonfiction book documenting his journey along Daniel Boone’s Wilderness Road. A book release will be held on Thursday, April 4, from 3-4:30 p.m. in Milligan’s Welshimer Library. The event is free and open to the public.

Dahlman will provide a brief reading, answer questions and sign books. Copies of the book will be available for purchase through the Milligan Bookstore.

For Dahlman, the concept for the book emerged in 2012. While traveling home from Ohio, he stopped along the Cumberland Gap for a short hike, and a sign for the Wilderness Road deeply resonated with him.

“While I’ve hiked around the Cumberland Gap many times, that day I was struck by the road’s history and its role in opening the West to settlers,” recounted Dahlman. “I also recognized that while the trail has a great history, it still has a story to tell today.”

A month later, Dahlman began the Master of Fine Arts in nonfiction program at Goucher College where he was required to complete a book. In conversations with his advisor, he decided to hike the Wilderness Road in its entirety and document his experiences on the trail.

In connecting his encounters on the trail to the road’s historical significance, Dahlman discovered the central theme for his book: finding home.

“I moved around a lot in my life,” acknowledged Dahlman. “I began this book after having settled in the Tri-Cities for 13 years. Yet, deep down, I still wondered if I really belonged here and if I could call this home. While hiking, I connected my personal search for home with the early settlers’ search for new homes west of the mountains.”

In writing “A Familiar Wilderness,” Dahlman discovered that his concept of home was being redefined. Instead of a physical location, Dahlman recognized that home can be found where we invest our lives.

“I’m beginning to wrap up my 20th year at Milligan. A large part of my life has been invested in Milligan, and a large part of Milligan has been invested in me, professionally and personally,” said Dahlman. “In completing this book, I want to extend a note of appreciation to my colleagues and students. They have all been very encouraging, and it made the process much more pleasant and easy.”

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Posted by on March 27, 2019.