Western Oregon University Professor to present on recent expedition to Antarctica

Pictured: Henry Hughes

Written by Maureen Brakke

MONMOUTH, Ore. –  Western Oregon University Professor of Literature and Writing Henry Hughes, Ph.D., recently returned from an expedition to the Falkland Islands, South Georgia Islands, and the Antarctic Peninsula to experience, study, and report on wildlife, ocean conditions, ice, climate change, travel culture, and ecotourism.

An Oregon Book Award-Winning published author and poet, Hughes travels the globe searching for inspiration for new literary projects, always with a connection to water and fishing. Growing up on Long Island, NY, Hughes shares that fishing and boating are big themes in his writing. He adds that being out on the water fishing offers a time to think about life and culture. He also lived in Japan for three years and in China for two which helped create a more informed global consciousness, helping to guide him in the way he thinks.

Hughes has written and published many poems and stories with seafaring/maritime themes and draws his influence from notable writers such as Herman Melville, Ernest Hemingway, and Annie Proulx. Hughes actively contributes articles to outdoor journals such as Anglers Journal and The Flyfish Journal, among many others. He has also published his autobiographBack Seat with Fish and edited three collections for the Penguin Random House Everyman’s Library.

Hughes also actively writes for and manages The Write Place, which is a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating and supporting literary and artistic projects that examine human relationships with the natural environment. Hughes’ recent experience is logged on this website. One of his English students, Jasper Beck co-edits for The Write Place. Beck won the Peter Sears Poetry Prize last year at Western, which recognizes the best poem written by an undergraduate at Western.

On February 22 at 4 p.m., Hughes will share his experience on his recent Antarctic expedition and lead a discussion on ecotourism in the age of climate change. This event is free and open to the public at Western Oregon University in Room 101 in the Richard Woodcock Education Center (RWEC).

During the 18-day expedition, Hughes and The Write Place Board Member Eugene Jones conducted and participated in onboard seminars and workshops in history, literature, oceanography, glaciology, meteorology, and zoology. They reported on avian flu mortality in South Georgia, ice formations in the Southern Ocean, and humpback whale migration. They also took hundreds of photos and hours of video, filled notebooks, talked, listened, and conducted interviews with passengers and crew members. Read the complete travelogue on the Write Place website.

Hughes notes that one of their guides, Eloisa Berrier, an Argentine biologist had asked them how they felt about Antarctica, and how they felt about the world and themselves. He writes that the experience happened, but “responses to those questions are still evolving.”

Next to his passion for travel and writing, Hughes loves teaching writing and literature at Western and appreciates the small class sizes and the down-to-earth students. He shares that he enjoys watching his students find themselves and that he’s been part of their journeys. “I can see that writing and literature helped guide many students,” Hughes says.

Learn more about Henry Hughes and learn more about the English Studies Department at Western Oregon University.


About Western Oregon University

Western Oregon University, established in Monmouth in 1856, proudly stands as Oregon’s oldest public university. Hosting around 4,000 students, Western embodies a mid-sized, NCAA Division II institution, with approximately 80% of its students hailing from within the state. Notably, its diverse student body comprises individuals from underrepresented backgrounds, veterans, and non-traditional learners. Western stands as the preferred campus in Oregon for those pursuing an enriching education within a nurturing, student-focused environment, characterized by faculty-led instruction Together we succeed.

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