ENGL 200 C: Reading Literary Forms

The Natural Environment in the Late Twentieth Century

Meeting Time: 
MTWTh 1:30pm - 2:20pm
Location: 
DEN 211
SLN: 
13771
Instructor: 
Edward Schaumberg

Syllabus Description:

This course will examine the idea of “the natural environment” in the late twentieth century, and more specifically, the way literary texts (both fictional and non-fictional) represent human relationships with that environment. By reading about different concepts of environment, examining them in literary texts, and writing about those concepts, we will enter into the robust scholarly conversation about how human beings inhabit their surroundings. More specifically, we will examine some key ways conversations about the environment are moving to cover expanding geographic, cultural, and philosophical terrain. Three or four key ideas will guide the reading we do in this course:

 

  1. What qualifies as natural? To what extent is the idea of “the natural world” socially constructed?
  2. With that in mind, how does human presence figure into the natural? How do representations of human inhabitation reflect cultural values and understandings of the environment?
  3. How can these discussions take into account the breadth of cultural positions across the planet and the ways in which those cultures do not experience “the global environment” in the same ways?
  4. To what extent do humans control their environment? Is that control equally distributed among human beings and cultures?

Our course texts address these issues both directly and indirectly, and while we will certainly not reach definitive answers to any of these questions, our class discussions and papers will help provide the vocabulary necessary to discuss them while opening up further questions and lines of inquiry about the environment and the way it is represented and discussed. From a writing perspective, this course is designed to both introduce some of the key conventions of academic writing in the humanities, and provide opportunities to practice those conventions in both shorter and longer forms. The hope is that, by the end of the quarter, you have had a chance to come up with careful analyses of specific passages within course texts, connect those analyses to each other and to outside scholarship, and use that evidence to make a focused argument about a specific question pertaining to representations of the environment in literature.

 

 

 

COURSE TEXTS AND MATERIALS

 

Scholarship

 

William Cronon – “The Trouble With Wilderness”

Frederick Turner – “Cultivating the American Garden”

Ramachandra Guha – “Deep Ecology Revisited”

Timothy Mitchell – “Can the Mosquito Speak?”

 

Primary Texts

Annie Dillard – Pilgrim at Tinker Creek (selections) (150 pg)

Ernest Hemmingway – The Old Man and the Sea (140 pg)

Leslie Marmon Silko – Ceremony (262 pg)

Karen Tei Yamashita – Through the Arc of the Rainforest (207 pg)

Additional Details:

This course will examine the idea of “the natural environment” in the late twentieth century, and more specifically, the way literary texts (both fictional and non-fictional) represent human relationships with that environment. More specifically, we will examine some key ways conversations about the environment are moving to cover expanding geographic, cultural, and philosophical terrain. Three or four key ideas will guide the reading we do in this course:

1. What qualifies as natural? To what extent is the idea of “the natural world” socially constructed?
2. With that in mind, how does human presence figure into the natural? How do representations of human inhabitation reflect cultural values and understandings of the environment?
3. How can these discussions take into account the breadth of cultural positions across the planet and the ways in which those cultures do not experience “the global environment” in the same ways?
4. To what extent do humans control their environment? Is that control equally distributed among human beings and cultures?

Course Texts:
Annie Dillard – Pilgrim at Tinker Creek
Ernest Hemmingway – The Old Man and the Sea
Leslie Marmon Silko – Ceremony
Karen Tei Yamashita – Through the Arc of the Rainforest
Course Packet (to be picked up at Ave Copy Center)

Catalog Description: 
Covers techniques and practice in reading and enjoying literature in its various forms: poetry, drama, prose fiction, and film. Examines such features of literary meanings as imagery, characterization, narration, and patterning in sound and sense. Offered: AWSp.
GE Requirements: 
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Writing (W)
Other Requirements Met: 
Status: 
Active
Last updated: 
March 16, 2016 - 11:20am