Valuing Nature: Literature and the Environment
Our focus for this course will be upon how literature deals with the environment, i.e., how literary texts represent environmental issues and why it matters that they be represented in this form. How, that is, do literary sorts of texts help shape the social framework within which environmental issues get discussed and environmental decisions made? How do we come to value nature, and nature in relation to (or in competition with) human society? We will be considering a range of prose texts, including fictional narratives, non-fictional essays and journalism, primarily texts written or set in the Americas. Course goals include: 1) developing the analytical reading skills appropriate to different kinds of literary texts, 2) working on how to formulate and sustain critical arguments in writing, 3) learning how to uncover the supporting logic and stakes of specific attitudes toward the natural world, 4) understanding how environmental issues are linked to other social and cultural concerns, 5) seeing how those linkages are affected by particular historical and political conditions. The course will contain a significant writing component, both regular informal writing assignments and several medium-length analytical papers; it can count for W-credit.
Texts include Defoe, Robinson Crusoe; Faulkner, Go Down, Moses;McPhee, Encounters with the Archdruid; Abbey, Desert Solitaire; Appleman, Darwin; Butler, Wild Seed; Barry Lopez Arctic Dreams; and a reading packet.