Walter Harper: Bridge Between Two Cultures

Oct 26, 2017

Walter Harper
Credit Yvonne Mozée Collection, Accession Number 2002-98-13, Alaska and Polar Regions Collections and Archives, Rasmuson Library, UAF.

In Ancient Greece, heroes often did not last long. Achilles comes to mind, but there are others. For the Greeks, there was something almost enviable about the hero whose life ended at the zenith, at the peak of physical and technical prowess. I couldn’t help reflecting on that when I was talking with historian Mary Ehrlander. She has a new book out on the first person to summit Denali, Walter Harper. Not long after his history-making achievement, Walter and his young wife perished in a maritime disaster. Mary is also director of the Arctic and Northern Studies Program in the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. She believes Alaska lost a potential leader for his people and all those living in the territory.

Also on the show, I got to indulge, in a big way, two passions: science and science fiction. Mary Beth Leigh is a microbiologist at the University of Alaska Fairbanks she was one of the mavens to come up with a film festival that catered to my nerdish delights: The Science of Science Fiction. The festival is being hosted at the University of Alaska Museum of the North. I got to talk with Mary Beth and the insect curator at the museum entomologist Derek Sikes about the science tackled or missed by the two films on offer.

One of the terrific additions to the series was the commentary offered by visiting scholar Michael Lee, of the University of Oklahoma. Lee, as you’ll hear, provides wonderful details on the movies, but he’s a composer who also shares insights on music's power in film and other dramatic arts.

And podcast listeners will have to excuse something of a repetition. Until this episode, KUAC listeners haven’t been able to experience the joy of Chris Lott’s katexic clippings. So, I recycled my introduction to his offering this episode: triffid.

You can hear the entire episode at Northernsoundings.com.