2012-13 Catalog

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Offering Description

Nature Writing: Classic and Contemporary


Spring 2013 quarter

Matthew Smith political science
Fields of Study
American studies, environmental studies and writing
Preparatory for studies or careers in
American studies, environmental studies and writing.

Today as we move into the second decade of the 21 st century, environmental issues are in the mainstream. Everything from the food we eat to climate change, from the philosophy of the nature to the nature of our communities, from economic policy to our understanding of earth and human history is being rethought. This program provides an opportunity for students to read and respond to some of the best new environmental writing and ideas in the context of classic texts in the field. We will trace the origins of nature writing, the twin traditions of exploration and romanticism as they emerge and develop in the early 19 th and early 20 th century. Authors including Thoreau, Walden; Emerson, Nature; and Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac will form the background for our reading of contemporary nature writing and environmental thinking. We will read contemporary writers including Gary Snyder, Practice of the Wild; Freeman House, Totem Salmon; Terry Tempest Williams, The Open Space of Democracy; John Vaillent, The Golden Spruce: Timothy Morton, The Ecological Thought; and Barbara Kingsolver, Flight Behavior. We will supplement our work with poetry, articles and essays. 

We will read and discuss each text carefully. We will maintain a reader’s journal in which we reflect upon the text and themes that have emerged in our reading. Students will be expected to write short formal essays, an extended piece of nature writing, and a research essay dealing with a particular topic, writer, or theme that has emerged from our work. Each student should anticipate becoming the resident expert in the work of at least one of our authors or one major issue.

The program is designed to give students an opportunity to read a variety of important pieces of environmental literature and to work on their own writing. We will share our writing with peer and faculty support and will expect all students to participate regularly in all phases of the program. Our work will offer opportunities for serious conversation, focused research, and reflection on personal and collective understandings of environmental ethics and action.

Online Learning
Enhanced Online Learning
Greener Store
Offered During

Program Revisions

Date Revision
December 5th, 2012 New program added.