Feeling My Way From the University Into the Wilderness and Back Again


  • Robert Kull Royal Roads University


embodied research, embodied writing, autoethnography, wilderness, solitude, interdisciplinary


This narrative essay unfolds in two parts. Part 1—Feeling My Way into Embodied Research—reflects on my doctoral fieldwork, which involved living for a year in complete solitude in the remote wilderness of southern Chile. The life events that shaped this experience, including childhood, education, early career, and graduate studies, laid the physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual groundwork for the project. A key challenge was to develop a methodology appropriate to the unusual context of my study. My methodology was grounded in mindful observation layered with analytic introspection, loosely based on autoethnography. Part 2 Feeling My Way into Embodied Writing—recounts the process of transforming my 900 page wilderness journal into a doctoral dissertation that was both academically rigorous and accessible to audiences. I abandoned the traditional academic approach of using a conceptual framework to organize the work in favour of a first person narrative, punctuated with analytic essays. Rather than write a dissertation about solitude, I let the voices of solitude speak directly to readers and evoke for them the actual experience as I had lived it.

Author Biography

Robert Kull, Royal Roads University

Robert Kull is currently an associate faculty member at Royal Roads University in the Environmental Education and Communication Program. When I was 19, I dropped out of university after one term. It took me 20 years and a motorcycle crash to return to my undergraduate studies at the age of 40. For my doctoral research I explored the physical, psychological, emotional, and spiritual effects of deep wilderness solitude from a first person, lived experience perspective. My book, Solitude: Seeking Wisdom In Extremes, tells the story of my year alone in the wilderness. I still spend a month camping and fishing alone in the wilderness each year. For more information, please visit my websites: www.bobkull.org and http://bobkullphotography.weebly.com




How to Cite

Kull, R. (2016). Feeling My Way From the University Into the Wilderness and Back Again. Journal of the Canadian Association for Curriculum Studies, 14(2), 6–13. Retrieved from https://jcacs.journals.yorku.ca/index.php/jcacs/article/view/40316