Posted by: Loren Coleman on February 20th, 2008
Today, Wednesday, February 20th, I journey north to give a 1:10 pm to 2:00 pm lecture in a classroom at the DP Corbett building at the University of Maine at Orono. This event serves as a contemporary example of how cryptozoology and Bigfoot studies are being used in colleges, universities, and, yes, in secondary and elementary settings.
Do you think this college class is being given in the anthropology or zoology department? Actually, neither.
The course involving the subject of 50 years of my passionate research interest is English 101, an introductory composition course required of all first year UMaine students.
Instructors Nick Mohlmann and Michelle Allen have designed this class so students will become involved in critical thinking. The students are required to read two books that present different view points on an issue. For their classes they are using my book Bigfoot! The True Story of Apes in America, Jeff Meldrum’s Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science and Nick Redfern’s Three Men Seeking Monsters.
Mohlmann told me: “The students are reading about Bigfoot and writing papers on Ray Wallace, the Patterson-Gimlin film, the depiction of a cryptohominid in The Legend of Boggy Creek, and whether they find the biological or paranormal explanation of Bigfoot more plausible. Dr. Pat Burnes who runs the composition program here fondly remembered a lecture you gave here at UMaine some years back when grad students were teaching a similar pairing of books. ”
That’s when Mohlmann, hearing he had a live cryptozoologist and author only a few hours away, contacted me and arranged my lecture there today.
This week, the students in the class are “working on papers dealing with the Patterson-Gimlin film. Students will be examining the film and reading yours and Dr. Meldrum’s take on the film as well as some other articles to construct arguments as to whether the film could have been hoaxed or if a hoax seems unlikely,” Mohlmann writes.
Mohlmann continues: “I’ve been interested in cryptozoology since I was in kindergarten and remember a book I would continually check out of the school library called Bigfoot: Man, Monster, or Myth.”
All in all, this university English course serves as another great example of how cryptozoology can be and is being employed in classrooms around the country. Nick Mohlmann’s casual observation about his kindergarten days illustrates how it all can be begin, in elementary school libraries.
And speaking of libraries….
For another lecture forthcoming, I’ll be delivering the “Brown Bag Lecture” at noontime, at the Portland Public Library in downtown Portland, Maine, on March 5, 2008. I will be talking about The Field Guide to Bigfoot and Other Mystery Primates (NY: Anomalist Books, 2006) and Cryptozoology A to Z: The Encyclopedia of Loch Monsters, Sasquatch, Chupacabras, and Other Authentic Mysteries of Nature (NY: Simon and Schuster, 1999).