Our focus for this course will be upon how literature represents 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, in part by the effect of these texts, 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 from the 18th to the 21st centuries, including fictional narratives, non-fictional essays and journalism
Course goals include: 1) developing the analytical reading skills appropriate to different kinds of literary texts, 2) learning how to uncover the supporting logic and stakes of specific attitudes toward the natural world, 3) understanding how environmental issues are linked to other social and cultural concerns, 4) seeing how those linkages are affected by particular historical and political conditions, and 5) working on how to formulate and sustain critical arguments in writing. The course will contain a significant writing component, both regular informal writing assignments and several short analytical papers; it counts 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; a reading packet, and one additional text to be determined by class vote the first week (from among: Silko, Ceremony, Lopez, Arctic Dreams, Ghosh, The Hungry Tide)..