Golden Baker grew up in Washington state, a Bigfoot-sighting hot spot. Writing about Bigfoot in his final grad school research paper at the University of Southern Maine was enticing, but not so practical.

He pivoted slightly to researching hundreds of years of “wild man” stories in literature. In a public talk next Thursday at the Harraseeket Inn in Freeport, he’ll share his findings and circle back to the big, elusive cryptid just a little.

“I was always terrified and also in love with the creature as a kid,” said Baker, 38, who lives in New York City.

He’ll graduate from USM’s Stonecoast master of fine arts program July 1.

Golden Baker Submitted photo

Baker said he explored Sumerian writing, Greek mythology, the medieval period, early science fiction and the Bible looking at the use and evolution of wild men in stories.

“The one thing I found very interesting in research is that early forms of very popular characters like Merlin from King Arthur’s court,” he said. “In the earliest version, he’s a hairy wild man. The next version, he’s a human who lost his brothers in war and he descends into madness in the wilderness and grows hair all over. The hairy ape-man with the club becomes the bearded prophet with a staff becomes … the wizard with the wand. That trajectory is pretty interesting to see.”

The transformation took place over 400 to 500 years of writings, according to Baker, and it’s one of many he’ll explore, along with the symbolism and what he believes is at the root of many of the stories.

His talk is from 8:15 to 9:15 a.m. Thursday.

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