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ISBN: 978-1-62557-052-9
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North Country: A Pedagogical Almanac

Publication Date: February 2023


North Country: A Pedagogical Almanac is a memoir-in-essays about teaching and family life in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The book follows the cycle of seasons in this remote and beautiful place by the waters of Lake Superior during the years in which the author finds a place there. It’s also a look at higher education on the razor’s edge at a tiny and struggling liberal arts college. Above all, the memoir is about a life lived alongside books and what they might teach us about how to love, parent, mentor, and care for others.



Carolyn Dekker has crafted the most original of books, tangling up memoir with literary criticism, nature writing with social critique, regionalist poetics with profound meditations on love, life, and justice. North Country gives new life to the oldest words in the trade—you can’t put this book down—for it asks readers to linger and to savor, slow-longing for the next words, the ones that tenderly knot keen observation to brilliant insight.

—Phil Deloria, author of Playing Indian and American Studies: A User’s Guide

At once a bracing portrait of place, a radically honest accounting of the self, and a delicate excavation of the crisis landscape of higher education, Carolyn Dekker’s North Country: A Pedagogical Almanac illuminates the power of tenderness in a broken world. How might a moment of encounter—with a student, a lover, an animal, a landscape scarred by its industrial past—function as an act of repair? How might our time in the literary worlds we share fortify us and orient us toward beauty and justice? Dekker dares to take up these questions, and the book she creates is a place we should linger. I will be pressing North Country into people’s hands for years to come.

—Rachel Feder, author of Bad Romanticisms and Birth Chart

North Country is layered with celluloid universes where figures from Lord Byron to Naomi Alderman reside, each vignette a breathtaking tour of place and time grounded in the Upper Peninsula. In this “pedagogical almanac,” Carolyn Dekker asks us to interrogate the plight of first-generation college students, see that socioeconomic status separates the cowboy from the equestrian, and feel the beauty in blue collar work. Her discomfort in “our need to be inserted as eyewitnesses,” rockets this construction worker’s daughter turned professor from Atwoodian musings to bailing young mothers out of jail—and teaches education as lifelong activism.

—Kasey Perkins, author of When the Dead Get Mail

Whether examining sexual harassment in martial arts, the history of Arabian horses in the Western world, or class disparities in higher education, North Country traverses rhetorical territory as confidently as Carolyn Dekker describes herself crossing natural landscapes by foot, on horseback, or on skis. This far-reaching essay collection treats its many subjects with care and compassion, rooting every argument in the author’s fundamental connections to home, family, and community. We should all have teachers who care about stories and people as deeply as Carolyn Dekker.

—Lindsay King-Miller, author of Ask a Queer Chick

About the Author

Carolyn Dekker

Carolyn Dekker is the author of North Country: A Pedagogical Almanac (Black Lawrence Press, 2023). She holds a BA in Biology and English from Williams College and a PhD in literature from the University of Michigan. She lives in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Since the demise of Finlandia University, she has been teaching at Michigan Technological University and leaning into her role as a local eccentric. Her creative nonfiction has appeared in Identity TheoryUp North Literary Journal, and Waccamaw. She has published scholarship on Jean Toomer, Leslie Marmon Silko, Willa Cather, and Emily St. John Mandel, and edited Jean Toomer’s A Drama of the Southwest for the University of New Mexico Press.

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