ABSTRACT

Listening to wolf howls as both material object and socially constructed metaphor highlights the contested relationship between nature and culture. The author conducted field research on Isle Royale National Park from 2011 to 2015, from which data he offers a narrative wherein citizen-scientists who listen for the howl literally “lend their ears” to a wolf biologist who has led the longest continuous predator-prey study in the world. The theoretical framework of this essay extends acoustic ecology, first theorized by R. Murray Schafer, to include environmental history and cultural theory, which problematizes definitions of “nature” and “natural.” Ultimately, this introduction describes a nuanced form of participatory, situational environmental music that plays out in the everyday lives of those listening on this remote, roadless island on Lake Superior.

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