English R1A

Green Reading

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
11 Fall 2009 Legere, Charles
Legere, Charles
TTh 8-9:30 222 Wheeler

Other Readings and Media

Henry David Thoreau, Walden; Justin Kaplan, ed., Walt Whitman: Poetry and Prose; Aldo Leopold, Sand County Almanac; Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek; The Birds of Western North America, Jon L. Dunn and Jonathan Alderfer; and, a course reader with excerpts from Thoreau’s Walden, David Owen’s “Green Manhattan,” John Steinbeck’s Sea of Cortez, Wendell Berry, William Cronon, Emily Dickinson, Robinson Jeffers, Juliana Spahr’s Gentle Now, Don’t Add to Heartache, and Wordsworth’s Prelude


The aims of this course are ecological literacy and clear argumentative prose. On a field trip to the UC Botanical Garden, and as homework, you will begin by observing and naming birds, trees, and flowers. You will keep an environmental journal to practice articulating the qualities of these fauna and flora precisely. As exemplars, we will look at what other writers—Thoreau, Leopold, Steinbeck, Dillard—have written about their own environments, and we will go see the Berkeley Art Museum’s exhibition “Human/Nature: Artists Respond to a Changing Planet.” You will learn about the carbon cycle, trophic structures, disturbance regimes, ecosystem services, bioremediation, and the sublime. In the meantime, in a series of short papers, you will practice synthesizing your own observations into ecological hypotheses, and revising and perfecting these arguments in response to peer review and criticism. Ultimately, you will be encouraged to reflect on your own place in nature: at the end of the semester, you will present a final paper on “The Future of Nature” at an in-class conference. The focus of this course will be on writing sentences with ascribable agency and active predication. By the end of the term, you will also be able to tell a Red-Tailed Hawk from a Turkey Vulture from half a mile away.

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